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Black Hornet (Lew Griffin #3)

3.92 of 5 stars 3.92  ·  rating details  ·  161 ratings  ·  24 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 & Company (first published January 1st 1994)
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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
“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
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
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
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
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.
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
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
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.
Tyler Collison
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
Bridget Weller
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
Christopher Patrick
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.
Matthew Fray
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.
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
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
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
He's just so good, ya know?
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.
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.
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.
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.
Andrew Neal
My review of Moth (the second book in the series) sums up how I feel about the Lew Griffin books. (No spoilers):
I will be back for more.
RATING: 3.25
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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)
Drive (Drive, #1) Driven (Drive, #2) The Long-Legged Fly (Lew Griffin, #1) Cypress Grove (Turner, #1) The Killer Is Dying

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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. ” 11 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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