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The Long-Legged Fly: A Novel Hardcover – August 1, 1992

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 200 pages
  • Publisher: Carroll & Graf Pub; First Edition edition (August 1992)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0881848107
  • ISBN-13: 978-0881848106
  • Product Dimensions: 8.2 x 5.9 x 0.8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 14.4 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 3.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (6 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,674,973 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Poet and short story writer Sallis creates a lyrical, unconventional suspense novel that reads like variations on a blues riff. In four sections, set in 1964, 1970, 1984 and 1990, black New Orleans detective Lew Griffin moves from his feisty mid-20s to successful middle age as a writer. He carries with him the requisite burdens of the hardboiled PI--memories of his days as an Army MP, a son and an ex-wife, excessive reliance on alcohol and tobacco--and he also quotes, poetry, literature and philosophy. Although some characters appear throughout, each section of the novel is virtually self-sufficient, with Griffin trying to find a series of missing persons. He wins some and loses some: he finds a black female activist trying to pass as white; he fails to save a teenage runaway from drugs and porn films. The richest (and longest) section traces how Griffin escapes loneliness and comes to understand himself through his relationship with the British nurse he meets at a detox center; he realizes he has filled himself with bourbon and the blues for too long. In the end, he recognizes the improvisational nature of his life, "moving closer and closer to the truth" in the conclusion to this haunting debut novel.
Copyright 1992 Reed Business Information, Inc.

From Kirkus Reviews

Black detective Lew Griffin skips his father's final illness (New Orleans, 1964) when he's hired to find a missing person--well-known black leader Corene Davis. Successfully finding Davis, he repeats the trick three times--searching for runaway teenager Cordelia Crayson in 1970, his friend Jimmy Smith's kid sister Cherie in 1984, and finally his own long-unseen son David in 1990. The searches are understated, variously successful, and seasoned with increasingly elegiac glimpses of Lew's erratic home life (his unlikely romance with British nurse Vicky, his repeated return to his obliging friend LaVerne); and readers waiting for first-novelist Sallis (the story collection A Few Last Words, 1970) to drop the connections among them will wait in vain. But an unexpectedly poignant sketch of the detective emerges through the apparent holes in the plot. Not so much a detective story as a story about a detective, then- -but one that exploits the conventions of the genre with quietly distinctive power. Likely target audience: people who think James Lee Burke's moody Dave Robicheaux novels are overplotted. -- Copyright ©1992, Kirkus Associates, LP. All rights reserved.

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Customer Reviews

3.7 out of 5 stars
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

17 of 18 people found the following review helpful By David Montgomery VINE VOICE on March 1, 2001
Format: Paperback
African American detective Lew Griffin first appeared back in 1992 in this novel by acclaimed, although largely unknown, author James Sallis. The story follows Griffin as he investigates four cases of missing persons. His success varies and even when he locates the people he's looking for, he never actually finds the object of his search.
This mystery is not really a mystery at all. Rather, it's the story of thirty years in the life of a hurting, flawed man trying to live a quiet existence in New Orleans. Rather than being epic in its sweep, though, "Fly" is minimalist. Sallis is a poet in addition to being an author and it shows in this book.
I suppose it's understandable that Sallis hasn't enjoyed wider success in the genre--his books certainly don't grab you in the same way that most mysteries do--but it's definitely a shame. Readers who are interested in more than simply solving a mystery will definitely find something to admire in this book.
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16 of 18 people found the following review helpful By G. Smith on December 29, 2002
Format: Paperback
If novels were "branded" at point-of-sale not only by genre but also by target demographic -- in a way analogous to the way in which many cable channels work to "brand" themselves as the first choice among their own target audience -- then this series by James Sallis would almost certainly belong "on PBS".
I had hesitated to sample this series because -- with no just cause -- I had concerned myself with the possibility that this series may play better on "The WB", and I encourage you not to make my mistake.
Lew Griffin is a fully-fleshed character -- unusually multidimensional in comparison to any other fictional detective I have had the pleasure of knowing. If I were any other author of the genre I would envy Sallis greatly for his ability to make a character feel so real, so likeable, and so constantly interesting -- more so when I stop to consider that objectively, and only in retrospect, the plotting here seems pretty simple -- its best and perhaps primary feature simply being the means by which new facets and depths of Lew's character are revealed.
But PBS? Well, I also don't want to scare you off by virtue of whatever negative opinions you may have about that. If you want a hard-boiled detective, I don't think they come much harder than Lew Griffin. By the end of the second novel in this series (Moth) Lew has bashed, been bashed and gotten smashed with the best of them. And yes, there are women in his life. Interesting women!
... So, check it out and in so doing, encourage Sallis to provide us with many more additions. These are solid gold.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Peter on March 16, 2012
Format: Paperback
The Long-legged Fly is the debut of Lew Griffin, a tough black private eye in New Orleans. This book takes place over four different time periods and each one gives us a glimpse at the life of Griffin.

It is a detective novel but not really a detective novel, as there is no crime solving going on, it is more a story of a man and his issues.

The novel is not badly written at all and it does have moments of quality but I just feel that it was lacking a coherent storyline. Maybe the author was trying to be too brief (about 180 pages), but I found myself thinking that James Sallis is a quality writer but the book was quite ordinary.
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