BORDERSNAKES by James Crumley


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Last heard from by way of The Mexican Tree Duck (1993), soulful and self-destructive p.i.C.W. Sughrue is here joined by his less poetical but even harder-living elder colleague Milo Milodragovich in a road odyssey that takes out colorful criminals north and south of the Rio Grande. The story involves Sughrue's extended revenge for his own near-murder, a quest that twists around and reinforces Milo's extended revenge against the lawyer who heisted his long-delayed inheritance. But these two booze-and-drug-maddened machismists shift motives with every hostile and come-hither look, and a reader's grasp of their convoluted tale is tested by repeated set-pieces of unleashed lust and sadism. Wonderful characters abound: ex-army good ol' boys, drug lords, movie directors, ranging in their behavior from decent down to unspeakable; most communicate in the uniform lingo of the western hero, whether they're from Montana, Mexico, Texas, or California. The women, ironic and vicious, have been hard-used by men a lot like Crumley's heroes. Only one, a movie-set virago named (among other things) Suzanne Kehoe, almost takes her pound of flesh raw. A brutal boil-up of a book that sacrifices much--narrative clarity, political correctness--to Crumley's penchant for excess. As for his famous, attention-grabbing verbal intensity--well, it's all over the map, but it's there.

Pub Date: Nov. 15th, 1996
Page count: 336pp
Publisher: Mysterious