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3601 S. Congress off E. Alpine Penn Field under the water tower check our site for monthly calendar Ruin Nava International Headquarters Come Visit us for LUNCH! In addition to our organic coffee, pizzas, empanadas, pastries and pies, we now prepare made to order sandwiches, salads, and even black bean gazpacho. Crumley’s friend Zigal is a veteran of mystery-lit conferences, where fans of the genre get to meet the authors. He recounts that by the mid-1980s or so, Crumley had become a hero to a younger generation of hard-boiled writers. Zigal calls them the “noir boys,” and says Crumley was always polite, but puzzled, as they surrounded him at hotel bars. Perhaps he perceived that few of this group would have gone out for football at Mathis or Texas A&I. The noir boys wanted more books, and maybe because of financial exigencies, Jim Crumley obliged with four more detective novels. These were The Mexican Tree Duck, published in 1993, Bordersnakes in 1996, The Final Country in 2001, and The Right Madness in 2005. In The Mexican Tree Duck, Sughrue returns for the first time since The Last Good Kiss, and in Bordersnakes, Sughrue and Milo partner up. Milo has lost his $3 million inheritance and travels from Montana to El Paso to enlist Sughrue’s help, only to find that his old acquaintance has been shot and left to die by Chicano thugs. The rest of the book is consumed by a complicated, cross-country chase that involves Texas crime syndicates, the savings and loan scandal, and a sinister general who played a part in the Iran-Contra scandal. Some critics saw this as energetic plotting, and some saw it as a mess. The Final Country is set entirely in Texas, a homecoming of a sort. This is Milo’s book, and although it seems a little strange to see him plunked down in the Texas Hill Country instead of Montana, he’s the same partly gentle, partly violent cocaine-snorter as he was back in Dancing Bear. The plot doesn’t matter any more than it does in Chandler’s The Big Sleep \(Chandler famously couldn’t remember who done it when he consulted on the and the voice. If The Final Country was Crumley’s swan song to Texas, there was a coda of sorts titled The Right Madness, in which Milo says his last goodbye to a fictionalized Missoula. There was a tremendous outpouring of affection in Missoula upon Crumley’s death, which had been long foretold after years of heavy drinking and hard living. The town’s many writers remembered his loyalty and friendship and his surprisingly gentle nature. Crumley’s favorite Missoula bar set aside his favorite seat as a sort of shrine. Though Crumley had traveled to Austin frequently in his last years, the lasting memories stretched further back. Several friends remembered a party at my house when Jim was in town touring with The Mexican Tree Duck. Our neighbor across the street had been a student of Crumley’s at Reed, and some local mystery writers were there to see the great man. ‘What everyone remembers was a scene in the kitchen. Tom Zigal accidentally spilled a drink down Crumley’s shirt when he hugged him, and Crumley took the shirt off because it was wet. Stripped down to his undershirt, his large physique was truly impressive. On his right arm he was sporting a brand new tattoo of a duck Soon enough, Austin’s lovers of the roman noir were lined up in the kitchen, each one kissing the tattoo in turn. Crumley grinned a tight grin and tolerated the drunken homage. I guess he was used to that kind of thing. Dick Holland is a senior lecturer in the Liberal Arts Honors Program at the University of Texas. Starting in January, he is teaching a class titled “The Mississippi River From Mark Twain to Hurricane Katrina.” NOVEMBER 14, 2008 THE TEXAS OBSERVER 25