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Black Hornet (Lew Griffin #3)

3.92  ·  Rating Details ·  223 Ratings  ·  29 Reviews
A sniper appears in 1960s New Orleans, a sun-baked city of Black Panthers and other separatists. Five people have been fatally shot. When the sixth victim is killed, Lew Griffin is standing beside her. He's black and she's white, and though they are virtual strangers, it is left to Griffin to avenge her death, or at least to try and make some sense of it. His unlikely alli ...more
Paperback, 160 pages
Published January 1st 2003 by Walker Books (first published January 1st 1994)
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(showing 1-30)
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Richard Vialet
With Black Hornet, I'm realizing that the Lew Griffin series is entirely the written memories of an older man looking back on and contemplating major events in his life. While the first novel, The Long-Legged Fly , jumps around in time to study a changing man through different decades and the second novel, Moth , expands more on the 1990's part of his life, in Black Hornet, Lew remembers more events from the 1960's, expanding on the first part of Fly. What struck me, was how much the book actu ...more
Sep 22, 2012 Tfitoby rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: black-as-night
“Mostly what you lose with time, in memory, is the specificity of things, their exact sequence. It all runs together, becomes a watery soup. Portmanteau days, imploded years. Like a bad actor, memory always goes for effect, abjuring motivation, consistency, good sense.”

Black Hornet, the third memoir of black, New Orleans based, some time PI Lew Griffin. From his comfortable garden apartment in an unspecified "now" mentioned in Long-Legged Fly, enjoying the fruits of his genre writing success and
Feb 17, 2015 Karl rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This is a re-read, originally read in 1995.

In this the third installment of James Sallis's noir series about Lew Griffin we are taken back to an earlier stint in his exploits in New Orleans. Back to the early sixties when the tide of race relations between black and white were beginning to come to a boil.

Something that Mr. Sallis does in this series is bring us, the reader, an awareness of other books and literature to awareness. There are a couple of pages dedicated to Chester Himes visiting on
Mar 16, 2010 Adam rated it really liked it
The third Lew Griffin book steps back in time and follows Lew in the sixties. This is my favorite of the volumes as it introduces all the characters and provides the usual literary references (Himes and Borges), and mix of intimate character study and existentialism but married to an evocation of the era and a consistent plot involving a sniper (that most existential and terrifying of all mass murderers.). Could be good for first timers to this strange and wonderful series. How much of this seri ...more
Dec 26, 2013 Jim rated it it was amazing
Shelves: mysteries, noir
A real find! It was a sales clerk at a long closed bookstore that recommended James Sallis to me, and I casually picked up a copy of Black Hornet. Now, some years later, I read Sallis story about Lew Griffin's attempts to track down a sniper in mid-Sixties new Orleans.

There's something different about this book: At the same time, it's hard-edged like Chester Himes (who actually makes a guest appearance in the book) and yet literate as all get-out. Griffin reads some really good stuff while he's
Mar 07, 2010 Mohammed rated it really liked it
Another brilliant mix of noir and existentialism,character study. Reading this series is reading great Noir but also is like reading a Camus novel at the same time.

I have the next novel in the series but i cant read it now, being so real in human emotions makes them a heavy emotional read despite the books are less than 200 pages. I need something lighter in tone after this.
Owain Lewis
Feb 26, 2017 Owain Lewis rated it it was amazing
As expected, Sallis slays it again. Race riots, snipers, heat, coffee, booze and characters called things like Doo-Whop, Hosie and Papa. Book three hits the ground in1968, tensions are high in New Orleans and Lew finds himself in the middle of the chaos. Sallis's genius is that he gives us an account of events in the form of a memoir, which means that Lew's meditations and wanderings down life's weird paths are really what these novels are about - one man's daily struggles adrift in the sea of h ...more
Dec 02, 2014 Roybot rated it it was amazing
Sweet Jesus, this book. Set in the 1960s in the city of New Orleans, Black Hornet introduces Lew Griffin, sometime PI (technically, this is the third book of the series, but it's set prior to the first two, and it's the first one I picked up, so... introduces it is). Sallis is seriously channeling Chandler at times on this one, and it's brilliant. Griffin is narrating the story from the future, looking back at the case and trying to make sense of it all, a conceit that works excellently here, wh ...more
Tim Niland
Aug 02, 2010 Tim Niland rated it it was amazing
Shelves: 2010-reads
This is a prequel of sorts to the two previous novels in the Lew Griffin series, Moth and The Long Legged Fly. But time is relative in these stories and Sallis tends to jump around a bit. Lew Griffin, and African-American debt collector and sometimes private investigator is leaving a blues club in the company of a white female journalist. When she is shot to death standing beside Griffin, she becomes another casualty for a serial sniper stalking New Orleans. Griffin vows to get to the bottom of ...more
Jul 18, 2008 Charles rated it really liked it
One of James Sallis's Lew Griffin mysteries. Griffin is a black detective in New Orleans and is one of the most original hard boiled characters in the mystery/noir field. Griffin is a flawed character but with a lot of sympathetic elements. These are, to some extent, literary mysteries, and are as much of an exploration of character and setting as they are mystery. I highly recommend them. My favorite mystery series, next to the Travis McGee series.
Aug 18, 2009 Johnny rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
The third book in the series takes us back in time to Lew Griffin's earlier years, in some ways offering the reader an origin story and insight into the beginnings of some of his continuing relationships.

As always, the writing is beautiful both in its content and its execution. The story is simple, the characters complex.

Another gem.
Guy Salvidge
Feb 22, 2017 Guy Salvidge rated it liked it
About as close to run-of-the-mill as Sallis ever gets, which isn't all that close.
Tyler Collison
Jan 13, 2012 Tyler Collison rated it really liked it
Years ago, I read The Alchemist, a book which prompted me to not ignore omens. After a recent sifting-through of some books, I'm wondering whether they've been pursuing me, or if I'm just that hip to them.

A necessary anecdote: A friend of mine recently lent me This Side of Paradise after I'd mentioned offhandedly a desire to one day read it. Feeling prompted to read it and give it back, I dove right in. Problem is, it's been a slow dive, as I'm in the middle of editing a manuscript, and the clas
“Mostly what you lose with time, in memory, is the specificity of things, their exact sequence. It all runs together, becomes a watery soup. Portmanteau days, imploded years. Like a bad actor, memory always goes for effect, abjuring motivation, consistency, good sense. ”

I have been listening to James Sallis’ tales for several years. Just recently, I finished his series about Turner, a former cop, psychotherapist, and convict turned sheriff’s deputy. I am now halfway through his series about Lew
Bridget Weller
Aug 11, 2012 Bridget Weller rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: crime
This is, what, my third Lew Griffin? I'm still chasing down the feeling that there is something special going on here...not quite sure what, apart from a smattering of clever clever self-reflexive narrative and some very impressive literary references. (Guess who's a lit teacher in his spare time..?)

I think the trick here is the writing is so well executed and the crime conventions sufficiently messed with for me to begin to expect things of Lew Griffin that I would usually be antithetical to m
Kathleen Hagen
Black Hornet, by James Sallis, b-plus.
This cassette book was borrowed from the Library for the Blind
This is a very short book, almost a novella, and it seems to center on one story, based in the 1960’s, during Lew’s early years in New Orleans. He takes on a job with a private security company to help catch a sniper. The plot is skimpy, but as usual his talent is in sketching characters. We learn more about his early relationships with some of the characters than we did in his first book in the s
Apr 19, 2010 Thomas rated it liked it
Another low-key Lew Griffin story, but it doesn't quite live up to the first two in the series. That said, it's still quite good. Sallis's descriptions are at times vivid and poetic, and his characters are distinctive -- the book is worth reading if only for a barfly named Doo-Wop who is part George Smiley (a very boozy one) and part Mr. Magoo. But the dialogue comes across as a little wooden at times, and the plot tends to slog, despite its brevity. But it won't keep me from picking up the next ...more
Sep 28, 2012 Margaret rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
I read this pretty quickly but that's mostly because it is not very long & I was on bus / train journeys.
I found it really hard to follow - it's set in New Orleans in the 1960s (I think) but the narrator keeps jogging back & forth in time & he & most of the other characters speak almost entirely in slang / dialect that I found mostly opaque. The protagonist gets shot / beaten up approximately every 3 pages & drinks prodigiously on every page but fortunately he has the constit
Oct 08, 2013 Baldurian rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: mystery, narrative
Mi è piaciuto il Lew Griffin meno riflessivo ma più detective de Il calabrone nero. L'indagine, degna dei migliori hard boiled, sulle tracce di un fantomatico cecchino risulta gratificante senza nulla togliere ai momenti più introspettivi (al solito, le pause chiaccherata-con-bicchiere-in-mano non mancano). Bello e convincente come giallo, con la marcia in più della poetica di Sallis.
Jan 31, 2011 Megan rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
It's a pleasure to read the rich descriptions of New Orleans (while in New Orleans!) and to get to know the thoughtful, interesting, wacky cast of characters. I'm sure I've missed a lot by starting with the third book, which is a flashback to the beginning of Lew's career amidst the racial tensions of the late 60s, but I am looking forward to reading the rest.
Rogue Reader
Dec 10, 2015 Rogue Reader rated it really liked it
Except for Sallis' biography of Chester Himes, this is my first read and a good read it was. Don't know why I waited so long. Love the New Orleans setting, politics and Lew Griffin. Want more, and glad to know there are.
Aug 16, 2010 Steve rated it really liked it
from the jacket "he shooter's sixth vfatality is cut down while she is walking at Lew Griffin's side. The victim was white. Griffin is black--a reluctant young P.I. whose poet's heart has already been hardened this was an airplane book for me. The Baltimore trip.
Christopher Patrick
Oct 11, 2014 Christopher Patrick rated it it was amazing
This is the best James Sallis book I have read (out of this, Drive, and Driven), and one of the best noir books I have ever read. The book has a tight plot packed into a surprisingly introspective story. I will be surprised if this isn't taught in literature courses in ten years.
Apr 19, 2016 Ed rated it liked it
#3 in the Lew Griffin series.

Lew Griffin series - black detective searches for a sniper picking off whites in racially polarized 1968 New Orleans.
May 21, 2010 Maddy rated it liked it
Shelves: 2007-reads
RATING: 3.25
Jan 27, 2015 Corey rated it really liked it
He's just so good, ya know?
Andrew Neal
Jan 07, 2013 Andrew Neal rated it really liked it
My review of Moth (the second book in the series) sums up how I feel about the Lew Griffin books. (No spoilers):
Matthew Fray
Mar 01, 2015 Matthew Fray rated it really liked it
A serious, well-written detective novel that has weight even though it is only 175 pages long. The 1960s setting and black protagonist also mark it out from the crowd and also it's intelligence.
Dec 03, 2012 Marty rated it really liked it
I will be back for more.
Cecil rated it really liked it
Aug 26, 2013
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James Sallis (born 21 December 1944 in Helena, Arkansas) is an American crime writer, poet and musician, best known for his series of novels featuring the character Lew Griffin and set in New Orleans, and for his 2005 novel Drive, which was adapted into a 2011 film of the same name.
More about James Sallis...

Other Books in the Series

Lew Griffin (6 books)
  • The Long-Legged Fly (Lew Griffin, #1)
  • Moth (Lew Griffin, #2)
  • Eye of the Cricket (Lew Griffin, #4)
  • Bluebottle (Lew Griffin, #5)
  • Ghost of a Flea (Lew Griffin, #6)

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“Mostly what you lose with time, in memory, is the specificity of things, their exact sequence. It all runs together, becomes a watery soup. Portmanteau days, imploded years. Like a bad actor, memory always goes for effect, abjuring motivation, consistency, good sense. ” 14 likes
“I was coming up on a cross street when a man wearing a filthy suit stepped out from around the corner of the building ahead and directly into my path. Bent with age, he turned bleak red eyes to me and stared. Pressed with his chest to both hands he carried a paperback book as soiled and bereft as his suit. Are you one of the real ones or not? he demanded. And after a moment, when I failed to answer, he walked on, resuming his sotto voce conversation.

A chill passed through me. Somehow, indefinably, I felt, felt with the kind of baffled, tacit understanding that we have in dreams , that I had just glimpsed one possible future self. ”
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