by Terry Carroll
James Crumley, who recently died, is credited with one of the best opening lines in hardboiled fiction.
From The Last Good Kiss:
Crumley claimed it took him eight years to write that line.
It may have taken him eight years to polish the sentence.
The claim about eight years brings to mind a mystery I'm sure I'll die without solving: Of all the lines in a 65,000-word novel, why is the first one the toughest?