I just heard from my father that James Crumley is dead. He hadn’t been well for quite some time, so it wasn’t a surprise, but it’s still a blow. The Wrong Case (1975) and Dancing Bear (1983) inspired me to try my hand at writing crime fiction–it’s a good thing I hadn’t read The Last Good Kiss (1978) yet, or I might have been too intimidated to try.
From the Missoulian, my hometown paper (“Local author James Crumley dies at 68“):
Missoula author James Crumley, 68, died Wednesday afternoon at St. Patrick Hospital after many years of health complications.When he died, Crumley was surrounded by family and friends, including his wife, Martha Elizabeth, and Missoula author and county emergency services director Bob Reid.“We were friends in the fullest sense,” Reid said. “I admired him for many things. He always kind of had this off-kilter way of looking at things – different than what you would imagine. He had a real hard-nosed exterior, yet at the same time he was patient and understanding of many different things and many different people.”
Missoula author Neil McMahon said of Crumley: “A huge man in terms of his heart and soul. He influenced me greatly and many others. He has a tremendous fan base and admirers all over the world.”
Read Bill Ott’s review of The Right Madness, Crumley’s last novel.
Update: Crumley’s friends tell stories (“Friends recall Crumley’s life, writing,” by Vince Devlin, The Missoulian):
In about 1978, McMahon says he was in the Eastgate Lounge one night when the door “plunged open and Jim comes lurching in, all wild-eyed. His shirt was gone, and he had blood all over him.”
Update: The obituary (“James Crumley, 1939-2008,” The Missoulian):
“I was truly born at the wrong time, conceived in a tent, raised in a shack, and brother, look at me now,” Crumley wrote to his friend Michael Koepf last year. “Stay the hell out of dangerous places, old man, so we can at least have one more drink.”