Damn it. I had to find out he'd died through Facebook. Not that I wanted a direct line, but you hate to hear about death that way, a casual note from people who knew him personally, especially when he loomed pretty large in your writing life. Here's one remembrance.
As that linked remembrance says, you can go along way toward learning to hook a reader by reading his openings, and his opening sentences in particular. My favorite books include The Last Good Kiss and the Mexican Tree Duck. If you think Dennis Lehane's stuff is cool (and it is) and maybe you also like the country noir stylings of Give Us a Kiss-era Daniel Woodrell, you can do no better than going to their daddy or granddaddy, James Crumley. Take my word for it.