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Black Hornet: A Lew Griffin Mystery

Overview

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 allies include a crusading black journalist, a longtime supplier of mercenary arms and troops, and bail bondsman Frankie DeNoux. Yet it is the ...

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Overview

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 allies include a crusading black journalist, a longtime supplier of mercenary arms and troops, and bail bondsman Frankie DeNoux. Yet it is the character of Lew Griffin that takes center stage, as in each of Sallis's highly praised books. He is by now, in this prequel, well on the way to becoming what he will be: violent, kind, contradictory, alcoholic. Both naïve and wise, he is a man cursed by unspeakable demons, yet seemingly encircled by redemptive angels awaiting an opening.

The 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. And though he had only just met his unfortunate companion, Griffin knows it's up to him to find her killer--before a madman puts the final match to a volatile urban tinderbox.

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
With two fine crime works in the tales of black operative Lew Griffin (Moth and The Long-Legged Fly), Sallis here delivers another: a prequel and a grim, utterly absorbing novel set in 1960s New Orleans. Griffin, a boozer, freelance investigator and occasional saint to the poor, reads a lot, hangs out with his tender lover, a whore named LaVerne, and views the radical black movement with an anesthetized detachment. He gets a crash course in radical anger when he meets a prominent white woman journalist, then watches as she is gunned down, the latest victim of a black shooter, a pro gunman bound for either hell or glory. He becomes a pal to a white cop whose brother is another of the recently slain. Although most of Lew's waking hours are spent close to drunk and absorbed in books that help him reflect upon the demons that dog him, he nevertheless reaches a resolution that seems a perfect tying up of loose circumstances. Sallis's New Orleans sparkles gaudily even in the passionate economy of his prose, marked by such arresting images as that of 12-string blues shot through with the amber from the dregs of a shot glass. (Oct.)
Library Journal
Black tough guy/narrator Lewis Griffin inhabits the often murky streets of New Orleans in a not-too-distant past-the early 1960s. Griffin strikes back after an admired reporter acquaintance of his is killed right in front of him by a rooftop sniper. With the help of a white policeman, the "support" of his working-girl lady friend, and news gathered from various dives, Lewis gets dangerously close to the shooter. Not a historical mystery in the strictest sense, perhaps, yet a vivid, focused portrayal of crime and the underlying racial tensions that can accompany it.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781433230080
  • Publisher: Blackstone Audio, Inc.
  • Publication date: 1/1/2013
  • Format: CD
  • Edition description: Unabridged
  • Product dimensions: 5.30 (w) x 5.90 (h) x 0.70 (d)

Meet the Author

A writer of varied talents, James Sallis is a published poet, critic, translator, and novelist. He has been praised as “a fine talent, introspective, sardonic, a master of quick characterization and narrative compression” (Buffalo News) and as “a rare find…a fine prose stylist with an interest in moral struggle and a gift for the lacerating evocation of loss” (Newsday).
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Table of Contents

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Sort by: Showing 1 Customer Reviews
  • Posted January 11, 2009

    more from this reviewer

    RIVETING NARRATION OF A SUSPENSEFUL STORY

    James Sallis makes numerous contributions to the literary world - to date he has penned some 24 volumes among them are works of poetry, fiction, biography, translation, essays, and criticism. (He also writes a column for the Boston Globe's review section). Not the least recognized and appreciated among his works are the Lew Griffin series, crime stories. With these books he has created an intriguing lead character in Griffin, a complex, often violent, sometimes compassionate private investigator who happens to be black.<BR/><BR/> Black Hornet is set during one of 1960s hottest summers in New Orleans. Now, the heat isn't just reflected by the thermometer but by the escalated temperatures of the people - they're angry, hostile, riled by separatists and the Black Panthers. Not a good place to be when nothing and no one is cooling off.<BR/><BR/> Five people have been killed - randomly shot by a sniper. The sixth victim, a white woman, happened to be standing right by Griffin when she was shot. Too close for comfort and too much for Griffin to take so he sets about finding the crazed killer.<BR/><BR/> Sallis is a superb storyteller, an eloquent writer whose prose packs an even greater wallop in part due to its spareness. His writing is authentic and atmospheric, his wording taut as this novel races to an unexpected finish.<BR/><BR/> G. Valmont Thomas, a member of the acting company at the Oregon Shakespeare Festival delivers a riveting narration as Griffin wrestles with his private demons and chases down a killer.<BR/><BR/> Gail Cooke

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