MILO MILODRAGOVITCH is an alcoholic, redneck good ol' boy sometime private eye who hails from Meriweather, Montana, with a taste for mind-altering substances, high-powered weaponry and a definitely non-linear approach to detective work.
Gee, doersn't that sound a lot like Crumley's other Meriweather gumshoe, C.W. Sughrue. In fact, although they never appear in the same novel until 1996's Bordersnakes, they both frequently mention a former, nameless partner and now-and-then drinking buddy. It's not too hard a stretch to believe they're referring to each other here. And Crumley himself admits that C.W. and Milo "are friends, actually," in the Winter 1994 edition of The Armchair Detective. You could look it up...
Still, there are differences. Both are veterans, but Milo did his time in Korea, whileSughrue did his stint in Vietnam. Sughrue was court-martialled for unintentionally killing an entire Vietnamese family. Where Milo is a basically a kind, generous guy, a bit smarter, a bit gentler, a bit less inclined to violence, Sughrue is pretty much an SOB with a bad case of the nasties, a loaded weapon with a natural-born mean streak. Crumley acknowledges, "Milo is my good side, Sughrue's the bad."
Crumley's books are among the most-respected private eye novels of the last thirty or so years and Crumley has earned a reputation as today's foremost writer of private-eye fiction. The Last Good Kiss, featuring C.W., is pretty much considered a classic of the genre now, and The Mexican Tree Duck, also featuring Sughrue, received the 1994 Dashiell Hammett Award for Best Literary Crime Novel.
Still, Milo has his defenders. The Wrong Case (1975) is, in my opinion, one of the best books on alcoholism and addiction I've read, a booze-soaked riff on Ross Macdonald's Lew Archer that ranks right up there with Block's Eight Million Ways to Die, and Dick Lochte, in our The 14 Best Private Eye Novels of All Time in 2012, said of Dancing Bear (1983), Milo's second case: "There's a dark humorous undercurrent running though this hardboiled novel that makes me prefer it and its cynical, coke-snorting, schnapps-slugging hero, Milo Milodragovitch, to what is generally accepted as the author's best work, The Last Good Kiss."
Report respectfully submitted by Kevin Burton Smith.
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