James Crumley novels are not for the weak of stomach the body count is high and the manner of death often gruesome. In his latest, The Right Madness, one woman inadvertently manages to decapitate herself with a rope, another voluntarily gives her hand to a band saw. If this seems graphic, bear in mind that I have spared you the pages of gory detail that accompany each of the aforementioned examples. Rough-and-ready private eye C.W. Sughrue, on hand for these and several other equally repellent scenes (and responsible for one or two more himself), must find out why Montana socialites are succumbing to violent and unnatural deaths. No stranger to violence himself, Sughrue is uniquely qualified to take his investigations to places forbidden to mainstream law enforcement officers. Author Crumley takes hard-boiled to a whole new level, easily surpassing genre icons Lehane, Pelecanos and Vachss; he is routinely cited as a major influence by up-and-coming crime novelists. His writing borders on poetry at times, not unlike the later works of Thomas McGuane, but with an acid-etched edge rarely matched in contemporary mysteries. The Right Madness is rated "hard-R" for egregious violence, unrepentant drug and alcohol abuse and lurid sexual situations. Don't miss it!

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