Author: James Sallis

Information about the author.

Works

Book:The Killer is Dying

The Killer is Dying: A Novel

James Sallis

A hired killer on his final job, a burned-out detective whose wife is dying slowly and in agony, a young boy abandoned by his parents and living alone by his wits. Three people, solitary and sundered from society.

In what is at one and the same time a coming-of-age novel, a realistic crime novel and a novel of the contemporary Southwest, The Killer Is Dying is above all the story of three men of vastly different age and background, and of the shape their lives take against the unforgiving sunlight and sprawl of America’s fifth largest city, Phoenix.

The detective, Sayles, is looking for the killer, Christian, though he doesn’t know that. Christian is trying to find the man who stepped in and took down his target before he had the chance. And the boy, Jimmie, is having the killer’s dreams. While they never meet, through the course of the novel, all find community.

Book:Eye of the Cricket

Eye of the Cricket: A Lew Griffin Mystery

James Sallis

Lew Griffin is a survivor, a black man in New Orleans, a detective, a teacher, a writer. And he is a man subject to all of the frailties to which we are heir. Having spent years finding others, he has lost his son…and himself in the process.

Now a derelict has appeared in a New Orleans hospital claiming to be Lewis Griffin and displaying a copy of one of Lew’s novels. It is the beginning of a quest that will take Griffin into his own past while he tries to deal in the present with a search for three missing young men. Somewhere in the underbelly of the Crescent City, there are answers and more questions; there are threats and the promise of salvation; and there is a dangerous descent into the alcoholic haze that marked Griffin’s younger days as well as the possibility of rising from it redeemed.

Lew Griffin’s investigation is the hero’s journey, mythic and strengthening and thoroughly satisfying.

Book:Moth

Moth: A Lew Griffin Mystery

James Sallis

Lew Griffin has quit the detective business and withdrawn to the safety of his old home in New Orleans’ Garden District, where he copes with his past by transforming it into fiction. Following the death of a close friend, he returns to the streets—not only the urban ones he has conquered but also those of the rural South that he escaped long ago—to search for the runaway daughter he didn’t know that his friend had. Griffin discovers that we rarely know anyone, even those closest to us. And he now finds that he must also face two things he most fears: memories of his parents and his own relationship with his now-vanished son.

Moth is expansive, bursting with marvelous scenes and unforgettable characters, filled at once with the matter-of-fact violence of daily life and with redeeming human compassion.

Book:The Long-Legged Fly

The Long-Legged Fly: A Lew Griffin Mystery

James Sallis

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.

Book:Drive (James Sallis)

Drive

James Sallis

I drive. That’s what I do. All I do.

Much later, as he sat with his back against an inside wall of a Motel 6 just north of Phoenix, watching the pool of blood lap toward him, Driver would wonder whether he had made a terrible mistake. Later still, of course, there’d be no doubt. But for now Driver is, as they say, in the moment. And the moment includes this blood lapping toward him, the pressure of dawn’s late light at windows and door, traffic sounds from the interstate nearby, the sound of someone weeping in the next room….

Thus begins Drive, by James Sallis. Set mostly in Arizona and LA, the story is, according to Sallis, ‘…about a guy who does stunt driving for movies by day and drives for criminals at night. In classic noir fashion, he is double-crossed and, though before he has never participated in the violence (’I drive. That’s all.‘), he goes after the ones who double-crossed and tried to kill him.

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