Monday, May 20, 2013

Review: THE LONG LEGGED FLY by James Sallis

The Long-Legged Fly (Lew Griffin, #1)“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 from one case to another slowly evolving into those he is entrusted to guard against the seemingly innocent and/or victimised against. I love the way the cases are fragmented by time yet linked by some deftly placed plot threads. Spanning four distinct periods, 1964, 1970, 1987, and 1990, PI Lew Griffin is as shady as the streets he stumbles, side stepping blood splatter throughout the underside of New Orleans. Surviving fist fights, alcoholism, and segregation, THE LONG LEGGED FLY is as much about Griffin’s battle with his personal demons as it is the missing people he’s tasked to find – I couldn’t read this fast enough, a must read for fans of raw and realistic detective fiction.

The book blurb:

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 modern-day New Orleans, black private detective Lew Griffin has once again taken on a seemingly hopeless missing persons case. The trail takes him through the underbelly of the French Quarter with its bar girls, pimps, and tourist attractions. As his search leads to one violent dead end, and then another, Griffin is confronted with the prospect that his own life has come to resemble those he is attempting to find; he is becoming as lost as the frail identities he tries to recover. Waking in a hospital after an alcoholic binge, Griffin finds another chance in a nurse who comes to love him, but again he reverts to his old life in the mean streets among the predators and their prey. When his son vanishes, Griffin searches back through the tangles and tatters of his life, knowing that he must solve his personal mysteries before he can venture after the whereabouts of others. The Long-Legged Fly is exciting, visceral entertainment that takes the reader into a corner of society where life is fought for as much as it is lived. James Sallis has written a compelling novel that succeeds both as detective fiction and worthy literature.

The Lew Griffin Books The Long-Legged Fly (New York: Carroll & Graf Publishers, 1992. Harpenden: No Exit Press, 1996). Moth (New York: Carroll & Graf Publishers, 1993. Harpenden: No Exit Press, 1996. New York: Walker & Co, 2003.). Black Hornet (New York: Carroll & Graf Publishers, 1994. Harpenden: No Exit Press, 1997. New York: Walker & Co, 2003.). Eye of the Cricket (New York: Walker & Co, 1997 & 2000. Harpenden: No Exit Press, 1998). Bluebottle (New York: Walker & Co, 1999. Harpenden: No Exit Press, 1999). The Long-Legged Fly/Moth Omnibus Edition (Harpenden: No Exit Press, 2000). Ghost of a Flea (New York: Walker & Co, 2001 & 2000. Harpenden: No Exit Press, 2001).


  1. I've been meaning to read this one, I enjoyed Drive (not so much Driven) but there are just so many books out there to read

  2. This is the first book in the Lew Griffin PI series and it's off to a great start. Interestingly I didnt like Drive when I read it 4 years ago - might have to go back to it.