James Crumley. The Last Good Kiss (1978) 259 pp.
When I finally caught up with Abraham Trahearne, he was drinking beer with an alcoholic bulldog named Fireball Roberts in a ramshackle joint just outside of Sonoma, California, drinking the heart right out of a fine spring afternoon.
Author Abraham Trahearne has a habit of wandering across the country, going from bar to bar, and drinking to excess. His ex-wife hires Montana private investigator C.W. Sughrue to find him and bring him home. Following his trail from Colorado, Sughrue finally catches up to him in a bar in Sonoma. While there, he agrees to spend a few days looking for Betty Sue Flowers, the daughter of the bar owner, who disappeared in San Francisco ten years earlier. The trail leads Sughrue—with Trahearne in tow—from Haight-Ashbury, where he discovers that Betty Sue had converted her amateur theater experience into a career in pornography, to a former hippie commune in Oregon, to a violent pornographer in Denver, and finally to a haven for lost animals and wayward girls where he learns that she has died. But the search does not end there, as Sughrue becomes obsessed with uncovering the truth about Betty Sues life, disappearance, and death—and the mysterious connection between her and Trahearne.
Setting: San Francisco (Haight-Ashbury); Sonoma; the American West