The Long-Legged Fly (Lew Griffin, #1)
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The Long-Legged Fly (Lew Griffin #1)

3.79 of 5 stars 3.79  ·  rating details  ·  356 ratings  ·  54 reviews
Take a little James Lee Burke, a touch of Ross Macdonald, and a dash of Raymond Chandler, the conventions of the classic American detective story and the fine, thoughtful writing of an original new talent - and you still don't quite have The Long-Legged Fly. This is a smart, tough novel teeming with life and always on the verge of igniting from its own energy. In steamy m
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Paperback, 200 pages
Published October 1st 2001 by Walker & Company (first published 1992)
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Greg
Lately I've been on a crime fiction jag. I have a giant stack of read but not reviewed books sitting next to my computer, and I better get cracking at reviewing them, most of them are library books and they have to get back soon. I think I might be over-dosing a little on the genre, the stories will soon start blending with one another. I don't know if I can call myself a 'fan' of crime fiction, I certainly enjoy it, but I feel like I have to be reading it for a lot longer than I have been to sa...more
Algernon

My first James Sallis book, and it qualifies as a 'discovery' of a major talent that goes beyond genre borders to write a detective story that is an existentialist meditation on race and relationships, a prose poem dedicated to the city of New Orleans and its exhilarating mix of beauty and darkness, a blues album coming straight from the soul of a man repeatedly knocked down ( Robert Johnson's hellhound was nipping at my heels ). I've been thinking about the title, and I guess it refers to 'how...more
Melki
If you're a private dick, and potential clients need to track you down in a bar in order to hire you...that's probably NOT a GOOD thing.

It seems to work out okay for p.i. Lew Griffin, however, because he has a real knack for finding people.

In 1964, he is hired by a black militant group (not the Panthers), to find a missing female activist (not Angela Davis). The book then follows Griffin through the years to 1990 as he searches for the vanished. He's an interesting fellow with little tolerance...more
Tfitoby
“In the darkness things always go away from you. Memory holds you down while regret and sorrow kick hell out of you. The only help you'll get is a few hard drinks and morning.”

This memoir of Lew Griffin, private detective, occasional drunk, crime writer and professional citizen of New Orleans, is the debut novel from James Sallis and no amount of superlative praise can do it justice. Sallis has written introductions for books from Derek Raymond, Charles Willeford and James Lee Burke and he wears...more
Adam
James Sallis’s Lew Griffin books are enigmatic and move at their own peculiar logic. Sometimes poetic, sometimes willing to linger on an exquisite slice of life, at points terrifying and existential(lots of disappearances and eerie phone calls), and always filled with literary references(Queneau, Bernhard, Robbe-Grillet, Beckett, Chester Himes). Where Le Carre and Greene get accused of writing “spy novels” as opposed to thrillers these books could be accused of being “detective novels”, as they...more
Mohammed
Aug 16, 2010 Mohammed rated it 4 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Fans of serious crime fiction and great writers in general
A poetic,complex story about PI Lew Griffin who is a great character,so well realised,so human,real.

One of few contemporary serious,masterful crime books i have read. I liked that also that you had think what the writer was trying to say with his story. Not a simple crime book about plot this one.

James Sallis is one of the best living authors i have read. Looking forward to read every work he had done.
Josh
“Maybe the best parts of out lives are always over. Maybe happiness, contentment, are things we only recollect through filters of time, elusive ghosts forever behind us.”

THE LONG LEGGED FLY is on par with the great American detective novels which embody and define noir down to its seedy and desperate core (think James Crumley). Drowning sorrows, starving the soul of oxygen, Griffin is the true tainted protagonist. Seeking love and ones lost, solace and a time to mean something, Griffin meanders...more
THOMAS
Devastating. I can't believe more people don't talk about James Sallis. I bought a copy of this book in 1998 as an example of a crime novel cover, before I really even read crime novels, for an illustration class. I filed it away, never read it, never looked at it. Forgot it. Then I found this at my folks' house RIGHT after reading my first novel of his. Shit is a REVELATION. Darkly poetic, at times excruciatingly painful and tragic. The Lew Griffin character encompasses all of the rage and alie...more
Spuddie
#1 Lew Griffin mystery set in New Orleans. The book travels through time from 1964 when Lew was a young private eye to the 1990's when he's an older author of mystery novels and sometimes "looks into things" on the side. Lew Griffin is a tough black private eye and even in the 1960's he was cynical and world-weary, drinking too much and barely scraping by, alternating between apathy and rage with little in-between. Self-educated and sensitive underneath it all, his drinking problem develops into...more
Martin
I hated it, not to put too fine a point on it. I found it a completely pointless book: all it is is a series of episodes stretching from 1964 to 1990, in none of which anything actually happens except the hero realizing his life sucks. Not once but twice we get treated to an aseptic description of him falling into alcoholic squalor terminating in coma and hospital treatment, from which he returns to normality each time with no real transition period.

The only real hook for the book that I can se...more
Tim Niland
Lew Griffin is an African-American private investigator in New Orleans. In this book (the first in a five book series) we follow him through four inter-connected stories set roughly a decade apart each. In the beginning we see Griffin as something akin to a traditional private eye, complete with shabby office and requisite drinking problem. As the stories progress, things deviate from the traditional detective story. He still acts as a "finder" looking for missing people, but the focus of the bo...more
Mary
This is James Sallis first novel, the front cover reads "crime novel", but it is much more than that. He has that gift of prose like James Lee Burke, and also like him makes the characters so real they come to life off the pages. Lewis Griffin is a black man,well read, private eye in New Orleans who has an occasional serious drinking problem. It starts in 1964, and this short book ends in 1990. You just keep reading and turning the page, and then it ends and you want more.
Carol
This book was so different from his John Turner books that I thought I'd picked up another writer by the name of Sallis. This story brought to mind the works of Brett Halliday/Michael Shayne whom I use to read in my teens (1960's) while others were reading more approved books. ..This was the first in the Lew Griffin series. Griffin a black P.I. working in New Orleans tells the story of his life through a few of his cases starting in 1964 and ending in 1990. There are ups and then rock bottom for...more
Chrisbeacham
There are rare writers of mysteries who succeed beyond the trappings of the genre. James Sallis is one of the best. What makes a great mystery?

A focus on place. While a mystery deals typically with crime, the crime/event takes place in time and place. Within "The Long-Legged Fly" you can smell, feel, and taste New Orleans.

A focus on character. One doesn't have to like the protagonist and here Lew Griffin is full of warts, an acerbic sometimes recovering drunk who is prone to letting people dow
...more
Patty
I wanted a new author to try as an audiobook. Sallis had two things going for him - We have the whole series on talking book and at least the first one is short. Sometimes I get lost in long talking books because it takes me awhile to listen to them.

Lew Griffin, the protagonist, is a black man reviewing his life from the 60's through the 90's. This is not necessarily a good time to be African-American and it is definitely not a good time to be Lew Griffin. He is angry, frustrated and an alcoholi...more
Jim
A rather enjoyable noirish tale of intelligent, troubled, soft-hearted black detective Lew Griffin in New Orleans who sometimes goes on terrible benders requiring mental-health incarceration, who it seems takes on mostly missing-person's cases. The structure of the novel is of four "cases" spread out over twenty plus years, each giving insight into the main character and his relationships (especially an on-going BFF with benefits). Not particularly challenging from a mystery point of view, but a...more
Rick
This novel about the life of a down and out but well read PI in New Orleans does a great job of capturing the grittiness that is the dark underside of the Big Easy. It treats those at the bottom of the social ladder with respect without cutting them any slack for their weaknesses and failings. The story itself is sometimes weak and largely incomplete but it doesn't seem to matter. This book is not about the story; it's about the characters and life at the bottom. The writing is inconsistent, som...more
Johnny
I don't know why it's taken me this long to read James Sallis, but this book is right in my wheelhouse. I liked the atmosphere and writing so much, I immediately bought the next three books in the series.

While personally, I think calling this a novel is a stretch. But while the four short stories that make up THE LONG-LEGGED FLY could easily stand on their own, the loose thematic links make me glad that they are together.

If there's a flaw, it's that the book doesn't know how to end. But that fac...more
Stas
It's meta-noir. The drinking and the looking for lost people, the sex and the violence are there, but are not the point. The main drive of the book is the sense of loss (of losing something, or of being lost) that is at the heart of so much noir fiction.
Curiously, blurbs on the back are from Gene Wolfe, Samuel Delany, and Harlan Ellison. Sallis (not to be confused with James Salter) did work with Michael Moorcock in the British Sc-fi renaissance.
Sallis hero is Chester Himes, apparently. Time...more
Roberto
Stunner. Stripped-down dreamlike molassic noir full of bar-room poetry, ruminations, New Orleans, night, coffee, heat, violence and blues. And chicory, which I'm considering taking up. Nothing you could accuse of being a plot, just a series of jags, investigations, failed relationships, recollections spanning decades that may, or just as likely may not, connect in some abstract way. It works. And by the end Sallis even throws in a little post-modern twist to add to the mystic soup.
Bridget Weller
Not your average crime tale at all. My first encounter with Sallis, and I have tucked him into the little appreciative corner occupied by crime writers who take the well-trodden path of noir-ish crime novel and nudge it along into somewhere unexpected. (Derek Raymond is another if slightly more twisted example) Note to self: Read more Sallis. There's something going on in there somewhere which might, just might, turn out to be kinda profound.
Charles
This is the first of Sallis's Lew Griffin mysteries. A wonderfully realized character written in luminous prose. Sallis is one of our best living writers.
Jure
Not about whodunnit at all. It's masterclass in writing, characterization, atmosphere creating, treating people (and readers) honesty and with respect. Clever and thoughtful stuff that - at least for me - was hardly a page turner. Quite opposite in fact as I've read it slowly in the evenings with a cup of tea and not on the bus on my way to work. Just wanted to enjoy it as long as possible, absorb it and let it sink under my skin.

So my only complaint about it would be that it's too short.

More he...more
Tom V
This first in the Lew Griffin pantheon is a terrific appetizer, full of mingling flavors melding into a delish concoction. The only problem is: how to stop gorging on the appetizer when the entrée is still to come.

This tale is a concert of movements, over a period of decades; the world-weary private eye morphing into something more soul than self, more remote than redeemed. His quest for answers about the missing, the loved, and the loveless, in a universe hidden, secret, and unknowable, leads...more
Flannery
Really good. As always, I didn´t start to read the book after I bought it - it lay on my stack a couple of weeks. But when I started it, I was hooked right from the start. Sallis is a very philosophical and lyrical writer, at the same time he writes kind of hard boiled crime, which isn´t really a contradiction. The book has four parts, linked to certain years, and starting with a wholly new situation in Lew Griffins life, a private eye. The changes in his live are not really told, but you can gu...more
Tsam
Whew, this one is sweltering. Sticky atmosphere, booze soaked prose and some simply fantastic writing at work here. Sallis is a true genius of contemporary noir, set down in good ol' New Orleans this is everything (and more) that you'd expect of a P.I. style thriller which is so dark that it has its own shade of black.
Cateline
Well done detective story told in episodic fashion that take place over a period of 26 years, 1964-1990. Sallis had New Orleans down pat, both the place and people. A brutal beginning, in 1964 addresses many of the racial prejudices of the time. Following episodes take place in 1970, 1984, with the final episode taking place in 1990. Those episodes are detective stories, but also address the racial divide, and the divides tearing down.

Sallis has a marvelous way with description, and creates muc...more
Stephanie Barnes
“Maybe the best parts of out lives are always over. Maybe happiness, contentment, are things we only recollect through filters of time, elusive ghosts forever behind us.”
Robin
Beautifully written crime novel and one that steps away from the usual structure and form of the genre. This is book one in the Lew Griffin series. Griffin is a private detective in New Orleans and the novel is his story, rather than a mystery yarn. He is a damaged and lonely man who gets caught up in missing person cases in the 60s, 70s, 80s and 90s, falling foul of the law and booze, but eventually finding some equilibrium in the company of a Scottish nurse who has cared for him after a specta...more
Wayne Simmons
Can I give it 10 stars? 20? In short: a stunning work of neo-noir. Full review to follow soon...
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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...
Drive (Drive, #1) Driven (Drive, #2) Cypress Grove (Turner, #1) The Killer Is Dying Cripple Creek (Turner, #2)

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“In the darkness things always go away from you. Memory holds you down while regret and sorrow kick hell out of you. The only help you'll get is a few hard drinks and morning.” 3 likes
“I wondered then: what was it that started a person sinking? Was that long fall in him (or her) from the start, in us all perhaps; or something he put there himself, creating it over time and unwittingly just as he created his face, his life, the stories he lived by, the ones that let him go on living.” 2 likes
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