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Eye of the Cricket (Lew Griffin Mysteries) Hardcover – November 1, 1997


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Editorial Reviews

Amazon.com Review

His fourth book in the Lew Griffin series proves once again that James Sallis is one of the most death-defying writers working in the mystery genre. Readers who have the persistence to untangle a twisted time line and go with the peculiar flow of Sallis's unique prose will find many rewards. Griffin, a New Orleans-based, 50-ish African American novelist, teacher, and occasional detective, dots his twisting tale with dozens of references to the act of writing, plus verbal samplings of everyone from James Joyce to Emily Dickinson. Griffin is obsessed with searches for missing children: a 15-year-old boy named Delany who has dropped into a dangerous world of drugs; the somewhat older son of Griffin's best friend, who also seems determined to destroy himself; and David, Griffin's own, long-gone son. Looking for a connection to David, Griffin abandons his hard-won sobriety and sets out on a drunken quest through some of New Orleans's seediest sectors. There's not much mystery in this long section, but it leads to an ending that will have you on the edge of your seat. Previous books in the Griffin series available in paperback include Black Hornet and Moth.

From Library Journal

Series protagonist Lewis Griffin (see Black Hornet, LJ 9/1/94), fiftyish writer, part-time college instructor, and sometimes sleuth in New Orleans, searches for a client's missing son. He also hunts for a briefly hospitalized man who claims to be Lewis (though without the writer's block). Neighbors, meanwhile, ask him to look out for the teenagers who have been terrorizing the area. After stumbling across several murder victims, Lewis wonders about his own long-lost son as well. The author's quiet skill shines forth in the vibrant surroundings, literate prose, and skillful and diverse characterizations. Highly recommended.
Copyright 1997 Reed Business Information, Inc.
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Product Details

  • Series: Lew Griffin Mysteries
  • Hardcover: 196 pages
  • Publisher: Walker & Company; First Edition edition (November 1, 1997)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0802733131
  • ISBN-13: 978-0802733139
  • Product Dimensions: 9.3 x 6.3 x 0.9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.1 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (7 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #612,521 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

Everytime I read another Lew Griffin book I'm left wanting more....
frans@erols.com
The words and tone are spot-on, and many scenes are so wonderfully illustrated that I found myself smiling with satisfaction after reading them.
Chris Greenwood
He has a fine feel for my favorite city to visit: New Orleans, and gives a sound psychological sense to his characters.
neubauer@ptinet.net

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

10 of 10 people found the following review helpful By neubauer@ptinet.net on June 30, 1998
Format: Hardcover
Am a regular reader of mysteries. How I'd missed Sallis I don't know. I am pleased to "discover" him and his wonderful characters. He has a fine feel for my favorite city to visit: New Orleans, and gives a sound psychological sense to his characters. Even the minor characters stand out as people I would be interested to know. I took several quotes from the book and introduced them to a class I was teaching on Human Identity. The words just fit right into the context of the class. Now I've read Black Hornet and am waiting for more.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By Untouchable on March 16, 2004
Format: Paperback
This is the 4th book in the exceptionally dark Lew Griffin series. Before heading between the pages of this series it would really be a good idea to work out how susceptible to depression you are. If you prefer happy, light-hearted mysteries then believe me, this book will not be for you.
EYE OF THE CRICKET is an example of southern noir or, to be more precise, it's New Orleans noir told from the first person perspective. Lew Griffin is a black man who teaches French and English literature in between occasional flurries as the author of several novels. He is also known to be quite adept at finding missing persons and so he moonlights as a sort of private detective. He is a man who seems to care a great deal for others, to the point where he has difficulty saying no to people's requests, often to his own detriment.
It is in his capacity as a teacher that he is approached to act as a private detective by a student who had heard of his ability at finding people and asks Griffin to try to find his half-brother. Griffin immediately agrees to help, no questions asked, a typical response.
What is revealed is that Griffin himself has a son that is missing and the tragic irony is, although he is able to find other people's missing loved ones, he can't seem to find his own son, not even a clue of where he might be.
That is, until a vagrant is brought into a hospital emergency room and the only item in his possession that might identify who he is, is a copy of one of Griffin's books - a book he had inscribed for his son. Suddenly he feels he might have the clue that he needs to continue his search.
Although the storyline seems straightforward enough, it is littered with flashbacks, dreams and memories, all of which managed to keep throwing me completely off balance.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Cary Watson on February 9, 2012
Format: Paperback
This is the first I've heard of James Sallis, although it turns out the film Drive was based on his novel of the same name. And he's written a sequel called, naturally enough, Driven. I'm guessing the third in the series will be called Driving. Anyway, Cricket is one of seven novels Sallis has written featuring private detective Lew Griffin. Griffin is black, a resident of New Orleans, and in this novel a part-time university prof teaching modern literature and French. Reading between the lines it would seem that Griffin was once more of a full-time private dectective.

Cricket presents the problem of the crime writer who doesn't appear to be all that interested in writing about crime. In this novel Griffin investigates a couple of missing persons cases in a laidback sort of way that involves a lot of eating and drinking in colourful New Orleans eateries while asking questions of obligingly talkative friends and acquaintances. In this way we get an engaging tour of the city, but there isn't really any detection going on. And the final 40 or so pages have Griffin living on the street in order to find his son who disappeared in New York several years previously. The missing son portion the story is poorly developed and makes for a limp, saccharine finale.

Sallis isn't the first crime writer to lose interest in crime. Michael Dibdin's series of mysteries featuring Comissario Aurelio Zen eventually became mood pieces with a bit of crime on the side. American mystery writer K.C. Constantine hit the wall after nine books about Mario Balzic, the Chief of Police of Rocksburg, PA.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Chris Greenwood on April 30, 2008
Format: Paperback
Eye of the Cricket is the 4th Lew Griffin novel and begins similarly to the others with Lew attempting to locate a missing person. Although Lew has no real vested interest in finding the brother of one of his students, Lew naturally takes on this role even if it interferes with his job as a college professor. The irony is that Lew's own son is missing, and he has no clues where to look until a bum appears at a local hospital with one of Lew's books that he'd given to his son years ago.

As with the other Lew Griffin novels, the focus is not on the mystery but more on the inner struggle that Lew goes through, having dealt with the loss of so many loved ones and trying to reconcile. This book is really more of a social commentary, and the noir feeling to it beautifully highlights the struggles that Lew and all of us have to deal with. Lew just allows himself to sink to lower depths than most people would ever consider, giving him a different and well-rounded perspective.

The writing here is outstanding. Occasionally I'd have to pause in my reading just to bask in the perfection. For lack of a better word, it's just so poetic. The words and tone are spot-on, and many scenes are so wonderfully illustrated that I found myself smiling with satisfaction after reading them. Sallis doesn't waste any words yet still conveys the emotions and impressions of his characters so well. These novels leave such an impact that I'm always left wanting to read the next one.
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