The Long-Legged Fly

The Long Legged Fly 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 ta

  • Title: The Long-Legged Fly
  • Author: James Sallis Carol Lea Benjamin
  • ISBN: 9780802776204
  • Page: 314
  • Format: Paperback
  • 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 moTake 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.

    One thought on “The Long-Legged Fly”

    1. Collections of shorter work by authors known for novels have never sold, which make sense when you think about it. If you are known for one thing and you veer off into something else--even if it’s related by format or is a different aspect of the same art form--you’re going to lose followers. Publishers are aware of this, obviously. Sometimes they’ll bury a collection in a list of novels by changing the heading from “Novels by . . .” to “Books by. . . .” Or, if the collection leans [...]

    2. 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. 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 f [...]

    4. "In the darkness things always go away from you. Memory holds you down while regret and sorrow kick the hell out of you. The only help you'll get is a few hard drinks and morning."This book is unlike any other detective novel I've read. You know how in all detective stories you get the sense that the case our hero is investigating is a stand-out case for him amongst all of his smaller, regular assignments? That it's a a mystery that he'll probably remember forever and is worth dedicating a book [...]

    5. I wish I discovered Jamis Sallis earlier He is truly an unsung genius of crime writing. This first book of the Lew Griffin. A black detective who lives in New Orleans. The streets are dark the walks are fast the bars are darker. A walk into the Louisiana wild side. Fine prose with moral struggle. Lew across three different decades evolving and looking for some lost souls who some are found and some are tragically lost to the world. Sallis in my opinion a master of American Noir. He is authentic. [...]

    6. This is an odd book, but I liked it. It is not so much a private-eye novel as a private-eye symphony in four movements, each tied to a particular year (1964, 1970, 1984, 1990), that show us four cases in the life of investigator Lew Griffin and how he—and the city he loves, New Orleans—flow through a quarter century into the fullness of time. It’s title comes from a line in a poem of Yeats (“Like a long-legged fly upon the stream/His mind moves upon silence”), and the book is narrated [...]

    7. 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 [...]

    8. If you're a private dick, and potential clients need to track you down in a bar in order to hire youat'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 for t [...]

    9. “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 w [...]

    10. “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 or Ken Bruen with a sprinkle of George Pelecanos). Drowning sorrows, starving the soul of oxygen, Griffin is the true tainted protagonist. Seeking love and ones lost, s [...]

    11. Poet and translator of Oulipian lit, James Sallis goes the distance with his debut novel,The Long-Legged Fly, a private eye mystery that manages to bring a fresh approach to a well-established and sometimes derivative genre. Narrated by Lew Griffin, an autodidact African American PI operating out of the neon rain-slicked streets of New Orleans, the novel spans over three decades and is divided into four episodic parts that, rather than conforming to one over-arching mystery, instead paint the sw [...]

    12. This is a difficult book to review and rate. The book has some good things to it, but there’s also some glaring weaknesses that ultimately made it more than a little frustrating to me. Unfortunately, I had high expectations from the beginning, so the disappointment was particularly acute. The cover blurb quotes several glowing reviews from The Los Angeles Times, Publishers Weekly, and The Washington Post Book World. The Times quote states “An extraordinary first novel….justly compared to J [...]

    13. “The Long-Legged Fly” by James Sallis the first in the series of Lew Griffin books is like sipping some fine wine. This is my second time reading this book, the first reading was about fifteen years ago, and I must say the book has aged better than I remember it.What Mr. Sallis gives us in the book are four views of Private Detective Griffin’s life through the span of some years. The common thread in the stories is the need for the detective to find a missing person. All the events take pl [...]

    14. 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” [...]

    15. Storylines, etc are detailed at my online reading journal's crime page while in this space I'll just leave my impression. This is an absolutely super book, and something entirely different. Rather than having an entire series follow a main character's arc, James Sallis manages to put it into one book. There are five books which follow this one in his Lew Griffin series which I haven't read, but The Long-Legged Fly covers a span of time from 1964 through 1990. Set in New Orleans, each section of [...]

    16. 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.

    17. Lots of things I like here: Louisiana, detectives, dark tales of wrong doing - yeah, it's my kinda story. If it weren't for the fact I found it hard to follow the strands of the story & knit them together (I'm still not entirely sure what they add up to) I'd have rated it higher.

    18. 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 [...]

    19. 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 [...]

    20. 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 [...]

    21. #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 [...]

    22. It is always refreshing to read a book so tight and readable you can get it done in a day. This author really knew how to edit his story so the reader gets only the important facts and a full story emerges, without all of the flowery nonsense that some writers indulge in. That isn't what good crime novels are about. They're about men of few words, men of action, men who don't dwell on the menial details of their lives in fear of going crazy. Lew Griffin is a private detective in New Orleans, a c [...]

    23. Lew Griffin is one of those tough-guy detectives who, in a way, epitomize the manly values of knowing what to say and how to act in order to get by in cruel world while keeping the pain and confusion deep inside. Sometimes the inside breaks out, but he keeps it dulled most of the time with booze, intellectualism and gallows humour. If you like to read detective stories for plot you might want to look elsewhere, but for tone and character this is damn good.

    24. “Jesus, Lew. Sounds like you reached for your hat and got the chamberpot instead.”The Long-Legged Fly tells a series of stories about Lew Griffin. It spans four periods between the 1964 and 1990 and traces Lew’s life as he sinks into alcoholism and bounces between drunkenness and sobriety over the years.It’s an interesting book in lots of ways. It opens as a private detective novel, but as it progresses the investigations take a back-seat as his reflections on life and his attempts to ge [...]

    25. 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 [...]

    26. 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 [...]

    27. Much like John Updike in his Rabbit novels, ‘The Long Legged Fly’ checks in with its central character at roughly ten year intervals. Except instead of a former high-school sports star gone to seed, we follow the life of a New Orleans private detective who’s damned good at finding missing persons. There are some interesting elements here: for example, the way that (until the final one) the cases are pretty interchangeable, raising questions of how much character really matters in detective [...]

    28. 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.

    29. This noir mystery by James Sallis features Lew Griffin, a New Orleans Private Eye. The novel is structured in four inter-connected parts, each taking place in a different year. The first part takes place in 1964, the second in 1970, the third in 1984 and the fourth in 1990.Lew's specialty is finding missing people. His best friend and occasional lover is a hooker with a heart of gold. When Lew is down and out he stays with her. The cases are interesting but I would have liked to see more charact [...]

    30. I liked this book, albeit with some trepidation. I'm always concerned about white writers writing from the perspective of black characters. I'm not sure Sallis navigates it well (the first vignette had some cringeworthy moments, mostly because of a character who wasn't the protagonist) but maybe well enough. Otherwise, this is a very good book, soaked in the atmosphere of New Orleans (I felt like I was back in the city). Sallis has a good gift with dialogue and I liked how the cases enmeshed wit [...]

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