I just got some bad news. Otto Penzler, last of the old time publishers, wrote to say the James Crumley died today after a long illness.
If you're not familiar with Crumley's work, you might check Amazon or your local bookstore. Start with The Last Good Kiss and move on from there. Here's the opening sentence of TLGK:
"When I finally caught up with Abraham Trahearne, he was drinking beer with an alcoholic bulldog named Fireball Roberts in a ramshackle joint just outside of Sonoma, California, drinking the heart right out of a fine spring morning."
If that line doesn't make you want to read more, get off this blog.
The only time I met Jim Crumley was when I was touring for one of my crime thrillers, The Wake Up or Scavenger Hunt. I had a Halloween reading at Murder by the Book, a great independent bookstore in Houston, and the manager, David Thompson, had called a week earlier and asked if I minded if they made it a joint appearance, me and Crumley. I told him I felt like Tiny Tim being asked to do a concert appearance with Pavoroti.
When I arrive at the store that night, the place is packed. Overflow packed. Tall Texans standing in the doorway of the restroom packed. They were all there, of course, to see Jim. I looked around, ready to bolt, when this burly guy walks over to me, puts an arm around my shoulder, tells me his name is Jim Crumley and he's a huge fan of my work. My voice cracked when I thanked him. The readings go well. Crumley announces he won't sign any of his books unless the patron also has bought one of mine. I sign books until my hand gets tired.
Afterwards, we go out to a bar, drink beer and solve the mysteries of the universe. It was the best Halloween I ever had.
God better cut Jim Crumley some slack.