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Black Hornet

(Lew Griffin #3)

3.95  ·  Rating details ·  282 ratings  ·  37 reviews
Los conflictos raciales están convirtiendo Nueva Orleans en una olla a presión. A las tensiones entre segregacionistas y defensores de los derechos civiles, ha de sumarse ahora la aparición de un misterioso francotirador que ya ha abatido a cinco personas de ambas comunidades.
Pero el asesino ha cometido un grave error: su última víctima, una periodista de raza blanca, era
Kindle Edition, 160 pages
Published May 11th 2012 by No Exit Press (first published October 1st 1994)
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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 ...more
Sep 22, 2012 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 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 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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 ...more
Mohammed Abdi Osman
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.
Dec 26, 2013 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
Owain Lewis
Feb 26, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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' 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 ...more
Oct 09, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: crime, noir
In the Black Hornet, I met Lew Griffin again, a man who the word complex doesn’t go far enough to describe. In his life, he has been many things – soldier, private investigator, criminal, author – and trouble always seems to come knocking.
The Black Hornet can be read as a standalone, and if you do, you will know non of these things about Griffin because this book takes us back to the beginning, before he was anything but a former soldier trying to make a life in a city that doesn’t seem to care
Neil Fulwood
Sep 25, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A fairly traditional hard boiled narrative taken in unexpected directions by its genuine philosophical tone (as opposed to the quasi-philosophical noodling that often characterise the genre), a wealth of literary references, the occasional flash-forward (the protagonist, it becomes evident, is narrating a 1960s-set case from much later in life), and a focus on morality and compromise. That it clocks in at a compressed 180 pages adds to its weight.
Dec 02, 2014 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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, ...more
Jul 18, 2008 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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 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.
Rob Kitchin
Aug 25, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Black Hornet is the third book in the Lew Griffin series set in New Orleans. In this outing, it the early 1960s and a sniper is territorizing the city, killing random strangers. Griffin is pulled into the hunt for the killer when a white journalist he is talking to is shot dead. While the plot centres on Griffin’s search for the marksman, the heart of the story is the excavation of Griffin’s character, his philosophical musings on life, and what it means to be black in the Deep South. Griffin is ...more
Aug 21, 2017 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
I've read the Lew Griffin books in order, but I don't think I'll be reading any further. I've heard such good things about these books that I have persisted up to the third book hoping they would find their stride, or I would suddenly "get them", but it turns out they are not for me.
I don't care for Lew: he's (almost unbelievably) well read and he's also (luckily) rock hard at fighting. I like my protagonists a bit more flawed than this guy, who beats up the bad guys effortlessly then stares at
Jun 10, 2019 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Not as enjoyable as others of Sallis' books but still darkly engaging. I realized half way through that Black Hornet was part of a series, damnit, and I hadn't read the previous books, nor do I have the next ones haha...Oh well, will keep an eye out. I like the main character except that he seems to lumber from one horrible injury to the next....
Theodore Kinni
Aug 15, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Pretty much hooked on Sallis and Lew Griffin now. Lew takes some hellicious beatings this time out, but as usual, he gets his man in an entirely unsatisfying way.
Guy Salvidge
About as close to run-of-the-mill as Sallis ever gets, which isn't all that close.
Nov 02, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: favorites, crime
Sallis never let’s you down. Great writing and an understated gentle delivery. Philosophy and a great storyline on the same page. Creates characters who sometimes just stop you in your tracks and his dialogue is masterful.
Tyler Collison
Jan 13, 2012 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
“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 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
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
Sep 28, 2012 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
Bobby McCue
Sep 15, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This might be my favorite book of the series. It's been so long since I've read them, but this is the one which always stuck out in my mind. Re-reading it, I can definitely understand why (still have 4 others to re-read). The characters can only live in New Orleans. They are colorful and brilliantly drawn....Doo Wop....Papa...Don Walsh. The prose and dialog are insightful, humane, and poetic. Lew Griffen is a wonderful character who protects the little person and those who have been wronged. He ...more
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
Jan 31, 2011 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.
Aug 16, 2010 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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.
Rogue Reader
Dec 10, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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.
Christopher Steffen
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.
Dec 03, 2012 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I will be back for more.
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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.

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)
“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. ” 13 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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