Part five of James Sallis' sequence of novels featuring Lew Griffin
As Lew Griffin leaves a New Orleans music club with an older white woman he has just met, someone fires a shot and Lew goes down. When he comes to, Griffin discovers that most of a year has gone by since that night. Who was the woman? Which of them was the target? Who was the sniper? Somewhere in the Crescent City - and in the white supremacist movement crawling through it - there's an answer to the questions left by that shot that echoed through the night. But to get to it, Griffin is going to have to work with the only people offering help, people he knows he should avoid.
'Poetic, complex and multidimensional, James Sallis' crime novels about New Orleans detective Lew Griffin… are unlike any you are likely to crack open'
- Los Angeles Times
'Sallis's voice is unique among mystery writers, and this novel, like previous ones in the series, is unforgettable.'
- Publishers Weekly [read the full review]
'it is hard to think of another contemporary writer who has so brilliantly captured the shifting sand that is memory'
- Gerald Houghton, The Edge Magazine [read the full review]
'The New Orleans backdrop - gumbo, okra and the strains of jazz circa the 1960s - all add up to a rich gumbo of its own, nicely set off by the odd Lew Griffin and the quirky jumps in time.'
- MGS, Barcelona Review [read the full review]
Lew Griffin wakes up blind in a hospital bed. It seems the black private investigator had left a club with an older white woman and then was shot. Was the bullet for him or her? The memory of the event slowly comes into focus, along with his eyesight, but it is now almost a year after the event. Fortunate to have an army of friends at his disposal, Griffin is able to quickly get an angle, but to really sort it out he needs to call in a favour or two from hoods who don’t really like blacks. The New Orleans backdrop - gumbo, okra and the strains of jazz circa the 1960s - all add up to a rich gumbo of its own, nicely set off by the odd Lew Griffin and the quirky jumps in time.
This is the fifth, but my first, Lew Griffin book and although it does stand alone, threads go back that may have needed a bit of explaining here. The first part of the book was, for me, rather confusing, but it helped set the scene of Griffin’s own confusion as he’s coming round from his injuries. Once the reader gets the hang of the time shifts, it works quite well. Griffin is telling the story now and holes in his memory form part of the telling, as do the time leaps that reveal the very well-read Griffin once wrote a book and is/was an alcoholic. A faded image of a man’s life appears behind the ongoing investigation, with events - like his lover leaving him - coming into sharp focus. One wonders how much more the other books or future books reveal, but in this particular novel Griffin is a little difficult to fix.
At 154 pages Bluebottle serves as a taster and I wish it had been packaged with another Griffin book, which proves I must have enjoyed it.
MGS, Barcelona Review
'Richly atmospheric, haunting, utterly compelling, the Lew Griffin novels are really cool. James Sallis is an outstanding crime writer - an outstanding writer period'
- Frances McDormand
'James Sallis is a superb writer '
- The Times
'Sublime, soulful, and essential'
- Mike Stafford, Bookgeeks [read the full review]
'If Camus wrote pulp, he'd read like Sallis'
- Andrew Donaldson, Times South Africa [read the full review]
'Sallis is a fastidious man, intelligent and widely read'
- Iain Sinclair, London Review of Books
'Sallis is an unsung genius of crime writing'
- Mark Timlin, Independent on Sunday