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EBOOK ë Dancing Bear ⚶ Detective Milo Dragovitch spends too much time boozing until he gets caught up in a case involving two bit criminals and an old lady on the runHis friends call him Milo No one has ever called him Bud except his father, long dead, and now Sarah Weddington, stirring painful memoires and offering him his first case since he abandoned his private practice and took a job marking time on the night shift for Haliburton Security The case seems almost too easy, hardly worth the large fee, just to satisfy this old woman s curiosity But things are soon exploding all over the place and Milo is turning up grenades, machine guns, a kilo of marijuana and a bag of coke and suddenly Milo is on the run I heard their voices but not the words, and they seemed far away, as if we all stood in the brilliant salt air haze of some Mexican Pacific beach, paralyzed by the sun and the softly pounding surf, reduced into an infinite languor, language lost in the muffled, sun struck crash of the waves in the throbbing air I have been afflicted by the curse of often finding books that are promising and captivating at the beginning, and then deteriorate into incoherent or implausible mess I have even beguI heard their voices but not the words, and they seemed far away, as if we all stood in the brilliant salt air haze of some Mexican Pacific beach, paralyzed by the sun and the softly pounding surf, reduced into an infinite languor, language lost in the muffled, sun struck crash of the waves in the throbbing air I have been afflicted by the curse of often finding books that are promising and captivating at the beginning, and then deteriorate into incoherent or implausible mess I have even begun suspecting that maybe the fault lies with me being too excited about a new book at the beginning and then too fussy about details as the plot progresses But no, I have checked quite a number of my reviews of crime novels and similar genres and only about a third of them exhibit the deterioration of quality as the plot develops Alas, James Crumley s Dancing Bear 1983 is a prime example of that unfortunate category.The novel begins strongly the Native American tale about a dancing Brother Bear, the description of the narrator s fight with the hapless mailman, and the banter with Gail are captivating The setup of the plot, where the narrator is hired by an elderly woman, Sarah, with whom he had been boyishly in love 40 years ago, is really excellent The reader will even find snippets of beautiful prose like the passage quoted in the epigraph above which show Mr Crumley s literary gifts But then shooting and killing begins Killing and shooting Geysers and rivers of blood Ludicrous, contrived, gratuitous.Anyway, the narrator is one Milo short for Milton Milodragovitch , a late middle age burnt out PI and rent a cop for a private security company, a heavy coke addict and alcoholic who stays sober by drinking only peppermint schnapps that he hates Milo is waiting for his father s ton of money that he will inherit when he turns fifty two, which event can t come soon enough for him Sarah, who happens to be his father s ex lover, hires him to investigate strange going ons in her neighborhood In the meantime, his boss in the security company gives him a tailing job Naturally, as required by a clich literary device, the two cases eventually merge Yet shooting and killing begins earlier The reader is offered geysers of blood His left leg was gone below the knee, his right above, and blood gushed from the nerve on his cheek, and most of his fingers were stubs, the pink, pork chop flesh not bleeding yet Wait there sI made sure the dead were really dead Nobody at home in Blondie s head, the little guy swallowed his tongue, choked on his own blood, and the actor s buttocks jiggled like jelly when I shook them with my foot The plot takes place in western Montana and neighboring states the author masterfully depicts the rugged landscapes and the tough people of the land The prose is full of dark and rather grim humor being a sworn enemy of private gun ownership I laughed out loud when I read the following passage a private investigator by the name of Shepard, when asked by a journalist if he carried a gun in his work, replied, Hell, no If somebody wants to shoot old Shepsy, they re gonna have to bring their own gun So, despite the utterly ridiculous plot, despite the incessant shooting and killing and gushing blood, I can offer a very marginal recommendation For the setup, for Montana landscapes, and dark humor.Two and a half stars Private detective Milo Milodragovich could share the old Pinkerton s motto of We Never Sleep , but in Milo s case that s probably because of all the cocaine he does.Actually, at the beginning of this one, Milo is keeping a reasonably low profile following the events of The Wrong Case He s working as a low level rent a cop for a security agency run by Colonel Haliburton and is staying relatively clean and sober by restricting his chemical intake to peppermint schnapps However, after a nasty i Private detective Milo Milodragovich could share the old Pinkerton s motto of We Never Sleep , but in Milo s case that s probably because of all the cocaine he does.Actually, at the beginning of this one, Milo is keeping a reasonably low profile following the events of The Wrong Case He s working as a low level rent a cop for a security agency run by Colonel Haliburton and is staying relatively clean and sober by restricting his chemical intake to peppermint schnapps However, after a nasty incident on the security job and a meeting with the elderly mistress of his late father, Milo finds himself working two cases that soon have him back on the bottle and tooting coke like a character on Miami Vice.What should be a couple of routine matters soon turn ugly and in true Crumley fashion, Milo s method of working a case involves many miles of driving around with lots of guns and drugs and there sthan a little drinking going on It s glorious This one is pretty typical of the Crumley crime novels with one of his two main characters getting in way over his head and trying to cope with it through drug abuse, excessive violence and black humor It s been said many times, but it bears repeating that these books are like a mix of Raymond Chandler and Hunter S Thompson.It s frantically paced noir with a cynical world view that s a helluva lot of fun to read The idea that Milo is working for a security company owned by a guy named Haliburton made me laugh repeatedly as I thought about this joke from 30 Rock After the first two books, Crumley s Milodragovitch series appears to be the most underated noir series of all time Dancing Bear is absolutely brilliant, the prose and the atmosphere is unparalleled but it is probably not meant for mass consumption Ironically Christmas is probably the worst time to read it It stands against everything that Christmas celebrates hope, happiness, human defency.Crumley has never been about plot and though this one is his best one yet, it is still not without ho After the first two books, Crumley s Milodragovitch series appears to be the most underated noir series of all time Dancing Bear is absolutely brilliant, the prose and the atmosphere is unparalleled but it is probably not meant for mass consumption Ironically Christmas is probably the worst time to read it It stands against everything that Christmas celebrates hope, happiness, human defency.Crumley has never been about plot and though this one is his best one yet, it is still not without holes and coincidences Milo has made some changes after the events of The Wrong Case He has substituted booze with cocaine and he is a security guard instead of a PI So he stays stoned longer and works less That ratio was skewed in the wrong direction to an alarming degree in the first book To get lower than that is an achievement in itself His father s old mistress asks him to follow a stranger which gets Milo involved with a bunch of really nasty guys The overall narrative is not that important The plot isabout great individual scenes The setting is sadder than a two dollar whore s diary andsordid than a child s cry that has not eaten for days The situations however are absurdly funny and completely ridiculous This dichotomy creates a sort of surreal atmosphere as if the story is a drunkard s retelling of facts.For example, Milo goes on a stakeout and gets mistaken for a TV repairman by a curmudgeon Milo later recruits him to spy on killers Milo takes Simmons as backup who is a bigger junkie than him There are crazier diversions when Milo becomes a drug dealer and when Milo tries to drink himself to death Sounds like a shit book Right But take my word for it Crumley makes it work at least tonally.The women characters are problematic All of them are sexpots and all of them sleep with Milo at the drop of a hat There is a genuine in story reason for that, so I will let it skate While this will be a shameless male wish fulfillment fantasy elsewhere, that is not the case here because of lines like this Ignorance might not be bliss, but too often knowledge took the fun out of some part of life Milo s words after he sleeps with a man s wife who is madly in love with her Then this one Nothing to do with love or sex or even comfort, but two frightened, befuddled animals seeking a warm place to weep I have readtragic books but nothing that treats hopelessness in such a matter of fact way It is sad because Milo is never going to change and hopeless because he will never bother to try The healthy dose of black humor still works which shows how good Crumley is.Milo is the perfect protagonist for the story He has only two emotions reserved for himself contempt and self pity Hold a gun to his head and tell him to come up with just one reason to keep himself alive, he will still be blank This is not really a book for happy people However if you are a full time underachiever or someone who does his drinking alone and in excess then you might find Crumley knows you better than your shrink or spiritual leader The only artist as unique as Crumley might be Tom Waits, neither of them are conventional but both undoubtedly possess a hint of the genius At times Dancing Bear does not even feel like a crime story It is a farce where we see a man self destruct where the journey is as funny as it is bleak Will it work for most people Hell no For me it was one of the best books of the year Rating 5 5Somemotivation for wrist slitting I went inside like a man on his way to his own funeral It seemed that laughter had gone into hibernation for the season Maybe just my drunken laughter, my cocaine giggles. Detective Milo Dragovitch is working as a security guard when an old family friend hires him to look into a curious case Of course, the mystery only deepens and takes its twists I like Mr Crumley s fiercely, lyrical prose style, and his hard nosed P.I from Montana who casts a jaundiced eye at the seamy underbelly of the U.S government There s something to take away from his novels, and something meaty to think about long after you ve reached the end Good stuff.