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September 18, 2008



I was lucky to get an hour with him in the hotel bar at Chicago's Bcon. He got up to leave for an Ian Rankin panel, but came back because it was too full and they turned him away. So he told us crazy stories.

Guy was one of my heroes.

Jenny Siler

Despite what his hard-boiled writing style might have led one to believe, Jim Crumley the man was one of the sweetest, most generous, most approachable people I have ever known. Unlike most writers, who work in solitude, Crumley kept his computer smack dab in the middle of living room, and was most at ease when surrounded by a steady stream of fellow dreamers. He and Martha were consummate hosts, providing food, shelter and friendship, even when their own resources were in short supply. Crumley's unflagging willingness to offer encouragement and support to aspiring writers like myself was proof of just how much he loved his life's work. Thank you, Jim, for your wisdom, sly humor, and true grace. I will miss you.

Stacey Cochran

How sad... I remember meeting James Crumley at Bouchercon Chicago. And I remember seeing him hovering over a table in the hotel bar with an intensity to his glare and a drink in his hand.

That's how I will remember him.

John Williams

Oh no. What Jenny said is just right. It was a privilege to have known Jim. and a terrible sadness that I won't see him again. Nor his like.

FWIW the interview Sarah has linked to is not actually the Into The Badlands one, but an earlier magazine piece. I have now posted the ITTB interview here - http://www.backtothebadlands.com/missoula-jamescrumley

Mark Troy

This is really a sad day. When I first began writing, a mentor told me before writing anything ready "The Last Good Kiss." Reading it was an epiphany. One of the best evenings I spent was with him and several other writers at the bar at Conmisterio in Austin. Mystery fans have lost a great voice.

Jeanne Ketterer

Oh, I am so sad to learn this. My condolences to his family and close friends.

His Last Good Kiss is always nearby. I discovered his work when I first began writing crime fiction and he's been a strong influence.

Ayo Onatade

I am really sad to hear this. I saw him when I went to Chicago but I was to shy to go up and talk to him. His book The Long Good Kiss is one of my favourite books. It is difficult to imagine the loss of such an influential author.


Terrible news - I was priviliged to meet Mr Crumley at B'con Las Vegas in 2003 - and took a few photos of him with various people, he was the special guest


Rest in peace


Martyn Waites

Aw fuck. That's it, really. Fuck.

Levi Stahl

What a sad day. Rest in peace, Mr. Crumley. I hope there's good drinks in the afterlife.


I met him briefly at ConMisterio in 2006 - I'm kicking myself for being to starstruck to talk more - and he seemed to be in poor health then. I remember seeing him at dinner the opening night and being secretly pleased that I had something in common with such a great writer - we'd both dribbled Mexican food onto our shirts.

Tim Maleeny

Crumley was unafraid, willing to just put it out there on the page. Huge loss to us all.

Tim Bazzett

I've been a Crumley fan for nearly 40 years, ever since I found One to Count Cadence, his novelistic tribute to the hard-drinking guys of the ASA in the early sixties. I was an ASA-er too and bought up a dozen copies of that book back around '71 or so and passed them out to army buddies. OtCC is a cult classic by now, particularly among old ASA-ers. And we are getting old, no question. I never met Jim, but did talk with him on the phone a couple times a few years ago after I published my ASA memoir, Soldier Boy: At Play in the ASA. I'd sent him a copy of my book and he was nice enough to tell me how much he'd enjoyed it, and even contributed a blurb for my website. I was so shocked and flattered that this guy would even notice my work. I just learned of Jim's passing from Mark Busby down at Texas State U, where all Jim's papers are housed. I am so saddened at the news. He was a terrific writer and I will miss him. - Tim Bazzett, Reed City, MI

Scott Phillips

Any crime writer with literary aspirations (or pretensions) owes Crumley big time. To quote James Durham, in his dedication to Jim for his novel "The Dark Window": "A king in a world that no longer needs kings; a lion in a world that will always need lions."

Goodbye, Jim. Goddamnit.

Phil Patterson

One of my favourite writers and `One to Count Cadence' is a fantastic book. And I echo Mr Waites's suitably Crumley-esque epitaph above. Aw fuck, indeed.


Steve Allan

Very sad, indeed. I don't think I can handle any more of my heroes dying.

Mark Sullivan

I hung my head when I heard Jim had passed. He looked rough, he wrote tough, but he was absolutely one of the kindest people I've ever met in the crime fiction business. My wife, Betsy, and I met Jim and Martha at a writer's conference in Billings and I was in awe. I'd read The Last Good Kiss in the Sahara desert while I was a Peace Corps volunteer and it had occupied a place of honor in my library ever since. I figured he'd be one of those stand-offish sorts, but nothing could be further than the truth. He was always "so damn glad to see you." He was always the smartest guy at the table. And the funniest. One of my favorite memories of Jim, and one of the highlights of my writing life, was sitting at a bar in Bozeman with him, Martha and Richard Price, listening to them trade war stories. Jim, I'll be raising many a toast to you at Bouchercon this year. You will be sorely missed. Martha, our prayers are with you.

Sam Gwynn

There were some crazy days with Crumley, but none crazier than the one on August 1970 when I helped Jim load up all of his possessions in a huge U-Haul (pulling the largest U-Haul trailer) for his move from Fayetteville to Missoula. It was a very hot day, and there were just the two of us doing the loading--no telling where everyone else was. About halfway through the job, Jim got a call from his agent telling him that the movie studio had decided to let the option on One to Count Cadence lapse. He had about $60k coming to him and was planning on living on it for the next couple of years. For the rest of the day, Crumely spoke only in rhymed couplets: "Don't be a grouch. Lift that couch," etc. We finally got the job done, had a good meal, and saw him off to the immediate future, such as it was. I wish somebody had filmed that day. Talk about reality tv!

Doug Midgett

I first met Jim at the Yellow Bay Writers' Workshop in 1990. I was in a "Personal Narrative" session with Bill Kittredge and Jim was doing a "Crime Novel" workshop. Did some drinking and card playing with Jim and subsequently made it a point to see him every summer when I returned to Missoula, where he was once living about a block from my mother's house.
In 1993 Jim was too come to Prairie Lights in Iowa City to read from The Mexican Tree Duck, just published. The bookstore owner, Jim Harris said, "You know Crumley, right?" I said I did and he asked if I would like to introduce him at the reading. I said of course, I would but, because I knew what he would read--from the first chapter of TMTD--I told Jim that it couldn't be broacast on state-wide Iowa Public Radio, as was the custom. Jim assured me that language could be altered to remove any George Carlin words. I said, "Read the first chapter and check back with me." A few days later he said I was right and there would be no mutilation of Jim's prose and no broadcast.
His passing is hard to take, but the memories are great.

Karl Kunkel

Mister Crumley was my creative writing teacher at the Univ of Arkansas in the Fall of 1969 (sorry, I just never knew him as "Jim"). One to Count Cadence had just hit the shelves, so I was happy to purchase a copy, which I still have (and which I stupidly did not get autographed). He was a teacher who gave us all a lot of rope so we could explore. Our text was "Writing Fiction" by R.V. Cassill, I believe. I think R.V. had taught him at the Univ of Iowa workshop.
I've collected most of his other published works over the years and tried to keep abreast of his career.
He had a full life and made a huge impact on a lot of people.
....Karl Kunkel, High Point, NC

phil norton

did he write any other novels not yet published? i thought i read a review a few months ago about a novel, DEATH CLOUD. if someone knows please advise. thanks

ramon garcia

News from Mr. Crumley`s death reached Europe on Monday this week, sending shockwaves through people who had more or less been in contact with him. He was revered, almost a sacred figure, in France, where all his books had been translated. Excellent Spanish translations are also available. I met him in Gijón, Spain, briefly, in 1996, where he was visiting a Crime Novel convention. I happened to come across "The Wrong Case", I started and I couldn`t stop, I was devoured by the book; I spent a whole night in a beach, reading it, to the sound of waves. It was the most intense reading experience I have ever had. The experience was repeated with One to Count Cadence, with Bordersnakes and other texts. James Crumley brought the genre, in my opinion, to unfathomable reaches, to new hights, where he is unreachable. He was funny and deep and poetic and son-of-a-bitch and compassionate, all at the same time. He was an enormous writer, I think a writer to count cadence in the pantheon of the best American novel, irrespective of genres and bordersnakes. Many people in Europe have also been horribly saddened by his death, and I would humbly take advantage of this post to transmit my deepest condoleances to his wife, family and friends. I don`t know if it is conceivable to have again, one day, another writer of this calibre. The loss for Literature is terrible and devastating. Our hearts are broken.

John H. Russell

I used to house-sit for Crumley. One of my favorite memories is that of him showing me where he kept his IBM Selectric typewriter--on a desk in his bedroom--and telling me that I could use it any time I wanted to.

I used to put his favorite dog, a Brittany spaniel named Beaner, in his old red Volvo and take her for a run along the river.

Thanks to him, "Chinatown" is my favorite movie (his too, I think), even though I never fully understand it. He introduced me to "Treasure of Sierra Madre" too.

He let me ride his Kawasaki KZ-550, and then tried to sell it to me. Now, of course, I wish I'd bought it.

He had Warren Zevon's name and personal number in his Rolodex. I didn't know anything about Warren Zevon at the time, but you can imagine how I wish I'd used that information.

I went to more parties at his house than I can remember, and he introduced me to more writers and private eyes than I can remember.

I wrote my best stuff under his tutelage.

My friend Heidi once said of him, "He makes a better role model than a teacher." I think I agree with that assessment, even though I've spent years trying to figure it out.

He was a great guy, especially kind to writers of less accomplishment. I'll miss him a lot, and try to fine-tune my remaining memories.


My favorite mystery writer if not my favorite of all time. I am very sad to hear that he is gone.

Selfish that I am, I certainly wish that he would have had more time to write a few more books.

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