The Magazine for Crime & Mystery



Val McDermid Interview

Nevada Barr on writing HUNTING SEASON plus an excerpt

Paul Doherty's short story THE KYRIE MAN

Stark Contrasts Michael Carlson examines the pulp fiction of Richard Stark

Have you got what it takes to be a Writer? by Fiona Shoop

It Could Only Happen in Hollywood

Final Country

James Crumley

HarperCollins £12.99

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Reviewed by Russell James

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James PI Milo Milodragovitch reaches sixty, but in his latest case still manages to bed at least four different women - two at the same time - to get shot, two-timed and arrested, and to survive fist fights so savage they'd make a round with Mike Tyson seem a welcome break. He drinks, drives fast and, in this book, snorts more cocaine than a London DJ might in a lifetime. And in case you were picturing Milo as a regular kind of hero, he lives off a huge stash of off-shore cash he stole in a previous book from the contrabandistas. He also lives now, against his better judgement, in sun-dried Austin Texas, host city for this year's Bouchercon. If you've not met Milo before you'd be forgiven for deciding there wasn't a lot to like about the guy (or maybe you'd think there was everything to like about him) and to be honest, his suit is not advanced by his having all that money. He starts this latest case for kicks and ends it for revenge. Along the way he is able to buy some expensive favors. But then, if you're up against the incestuous, murderous, scheming gangsters who, Crumley says, run Texas - and if you're approaching sixty - you'll need some help.
The case? Oh, the usual impossibly complex warring family tangle concerning land rights, missing wives and daughters, oversize hoodlums, and any number of well-armed killers (and I'm not just talking about the women). There are a lot of tough-guy writers around today but they don't come tougher than James Crumley. The plot takes fifty pages to sort out where it's heading but once it does, it delivers an unstoppable, bleakly atmospheric, coming of old age odyssey, culminating in a more than usually pain-wracked climax. It'll make you think twice about stepping outside at night at Bouchercon.

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