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Issue 45 - Liquor, lawlessness, and loose, loose ladies

Whisky Magazine Issue 45
January 2005


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Liquor, lawlessness, and loose, loose ladies

Jefferson Chase gets in to frontier territory with hard-boiled crime writer James Crumley

Think hard-boiled crime fiction, and probably one of the last settings you'd imagine is Montana. Big Sky Country is usually more of a place for logging boots than gumshoes, but wherever there's a frontier, there's liquor, lawlessness and loose women – three main ingredients of the noire genre.

James Crumley – a native Texan who's long made his home up north – has been described as “the bastard son of Raymond Chandler,“ “a heavy drinker“ and an “amoral moralist.“ All accolades for a hardboiled writer.

And he imparted these qualities to his alter ego, detective Milo Milodragovitch, in his debut potboiler The Wrong Case from 1975. The down-at-the-heels son of one of the state's leading political families, Milo alternates between being a hell of a nice guy and a drunken jerk.

This becomes clear when an attractive female client shows up at his office, looking for both her missing brother and some early afternoon refreshment.

I had had some strange requests in my office. Husbands who wanted me to do obscene things to myself when they found out that their wives were exactly the sluts they supposed them to be... Wives had made their share of indecent requests too. Usually concerning my fee. They tried to take it out in trade, and sometimes when they discovered I'd take it out but wouldn't trade it for
anything... But I'd never been asked to whip up a whiskey sour.”

Milo fulfills this request by ordering takeaway service from his local watering hole, describe...

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