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James Crumley Obituary

HELENA, Mont. (AP) — James Crumley, a crime novelist whose hardened detectives worked cases in dingy Montana bars and other rough hangouts around Big Sky Country, died Wednesday after years of poor health. He was 68.

Crumley died at a hospital in Missoula, where the former Texan made his home, said William Kittredge, a longtime friend and writer.

He was perhaps best known for "The Last Good Kiss," which Men's Journal last year ranked No. 12 among its Top 15 Thrillers of All Time. The book takes readers into the life of C.W. Sughrue, a Montana investigator who works in a topless bar, is hired to track down an author and ends up searching for a girl missing in San Francisco's Haight-Ashbury district.

Crumley wrote "hard-boiled detective" books but made them poetic, said Kittredge, who taught in the University of Montana writing program for 29 years. Crumley was on UM's English faculty soon after he earned a master of fine arts degree at the University of Iowa in 1966.

Besides "The Last Good Kiss" and "One Count to Cadence," his books include "The Wrong Case," ''Dancing Bear" and "The Mexican Tree Duck," all published by Random House. Viking published "The Right Madness" in 2005. Chatham's Clark City Press published a Crumley anthology, "The Muddy Fork and Other Things: Short Fiction and Nonfiction," in 1991.

Copyright © 2008 The Associated Press
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