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A retrospective: The Last Good Kiss by James Crumley

Joseph Knobbs is the crime buyer for Waterstones stores across the UK and, next year, will be publishing his first novel Sirens under the name of Joseph Knox. Here he talks about how discovering a battered old copy of The Last Good Kiss – a classic mystery by crime-writing giant James Crumley – sparked a life long love of the genre.

The Last Good Kiss is the book.

The Last Good KissThe book that made me fall in love with crime fiction and fall further in love with reading. I found a battered, American copy spine-on in the crime section of Waterstones Deansgate, my first year there, and it’s gone on to change the course of my life.

Seeing it brought back into print is probably the most exciting sight of my bookselling career to date – and I can’t wait for everyone else to read it…

It’s been called a lot of things: The last good mystery, a friggin’ masterpiece, an unholy blend of Hunter S Thompson and Raymond Chandler.

It has, unfortunately, never been called a bestseller.

It’s the best kept secret in crime fiction. It’s brash, boisterous and surprisingly moving. It has the best opening of any crime novel I’ve read, a passage only bettered by its incredible, heart-breaking ending.

C. W. Sughrue, a private investigator more likely to commit crimes than solve them, winds up in a bar following a missing person. But when the landlady begs Sughrue to look for a daughter who vanished ten years before, it sends him through a nightmare of personal discovery and loss, towards a truth he doesn’t want to know.

Simply the best crime novel I’ve ever read.”

road trip reads
road trip reads
Joseph Knox

Joseph Knox was born and raised in and around Stoke and Manchester, where he worked in bars and bookshops before moving to London. He runs, writes and reads compulsively. Sirens is his first novel.

Follow Joseph on Twitter.

1 Comment

    Last Good Kiss: better than Chandler and Hammett (who are way overrated & over-hyped) put together. Just might be
    the finest private eye novel ever written. Read it way back in the mid 1980s & have
    never forgotten it. Derek Raymond’s I Was Dora Suarez is another great crime novel. Better than anything Ellroy
    ever put out.

    Kirk Alex, author of the thrillers Throwback and Backlash currently out as eBooks. |

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