James A. Crumley (born 12 October 1939 in Three Rivers, Texas) is the author of violent hardboiled crime novels and several volumes of short stories and essays, as well as published and unpublished screenplays. His novels The Mexican Tree Duck, The Last Good Kiss, and The Right Madness feature the character C.W. Sughrue, an ex-army officer turned private investigator. The Wrong Case, Dancing Bear and The Final Country feature a PI named Milo Milodragovitch. Bordersnakes brings both characters together.
The Mexican Tree Duck won the 1994 Dashiell Hammett Award, given by the North American Branch of the International Association of Crime Writers for the best literary crime novel. (However, despite claims made on a number of websites, Crumley does not seem to have been either a winner or a nominee for a Mystery Writers of America Edgar Award for The Last Good Kiss or any other novel.)
Crumley co-wrote the screenplay for the film The Far Side of Jericho, which was in post-production in April 2006. He worked on a number of drafts of the screenplay for the adaptation of the comic strip Judge Dredd, though none of his ideas were used in the film itself. His commissioned but unproduced screenplay for the film The Pigeon Shoot was published in a limited edition.
Crumley's book Whores contains short stories, and his Muddy Fork and Other Things has short fiction and essays.
Crumley grew up in south Texas, and was a grade-A student and a football player in high school. He attended the Georgia Institute of Technology on a Navy ROTC scholarship, but left to serve in the U.S. Army from 1958 to 1961. He then attended the Texas College of Arts and Industries on a football scholarship, where he received his B.A. degree with a major in history in 1964. He earned a Master of Fine Arts degree in creative writing at the University of Iowa in 1966. In 1968, he signed the “Writers and Editors War Tax Protest” pledge, vowing to refuse tax payments in protest against the Vietnam War. His master's thesis was later published as the Vietnam War novel One Count to Cadence in 1969. Crumley served on the English faculty of the University of Montana at Missoula, and as a visiting professor at a number of other colleges. He has lived in Missoula, Montana since the mid-1980s.
The detective "Crumley" in Ray Bradbury's trilogy of mystery novels (Death Is a Lonely Business, A Graveyard for Lunatics, and Let's All Kill Constance) is named in tribute to him.
It is believed that Crumley finds a lot inspiration for his novel at Charlies Bar in Missoula, MT. A regular there, he has many longstanding friends who have been characters in his books.