Mystery Books for Sale

[ Home ]
[ About | Reviews | Search | Submit ]


by James Crumley
Penguin, August 2006
304 pages
ISBN: 0143037307

Buy in the UK | Buy in Canada

I never start a James Crumley book late in the afternoon because I know if I do I'll never get any sleep. Either I'll stay up until I finish the book or my subconscious mind will keep working on the part of the book I haven't finished while I sleep.

CW Sughrue is living in Montana with his wife and son, working as a PI and staying reasonably clean and sober. For those of you who remember Sughrue from THE LAST GOOD KISS, any one of those would be a pretty major accomplishment.

Sughrue takes on a job for a friend of his, a shrink who is convinced someone has stolen patient information from him. Dr William MacKinderick pays Sughrue a whopping chunk of change to figure out which patient has swiped the information, and he wants it done discreetly.

This is fine, until the patients Sughrue is following start dying. One woman decapitates herself all over Sughrue, under the mistaken belief that he is her husband. Another woman falls off a balcony. Yet another woman cuts her hands off. Suicides? Accidents? Murders.

Sughrue has an adversarial relationship with the local chief of detectives, Johnny Raymond. The messy deaths do not improve this relationship. Sughrue's marriage is in trouble; his wife Whitney has taken a job in Minneapolis and Sughrue has chosen not to go with her and their son Les. Absence doesn't help this marriage. Neither do most of the women that Sughrue encounters in THE RIGHT MADNESS.

Crumley writes about the nastiest happenings, the cruelty that people gladly bestow on one another, the banality of evil in this world. What makes it possible for me to read this is the way in which he writes. I can't pull out one sentence here or a phrase there to show this; he uses two or three paragraphs early in the book to describe Mac (the shrink) and I have a visual image of the man which never fades for the rest of the book. Not just of the physical man but the persona he shows to the world.

THE RIGHT MADNESS is as much about Sughrue picking that persona apart as it is about the crimes and the detecting. I don't always enjoy what Crumley writes about; his world is bleak and unpleasant with little hope of redemption. I truly am amazed at how he writes this world of his, the craftsmanship and quality of the writing.

Reviewed by P. J. Coldren, September 2006

[ Top ]



Contact: Yvonne Klein (ymk@reviewingtheevidence.com)

[ About | Reviews | Search | Submit ]
[ Home ]