Friday, September 9, 2011




Reading James Sallis is a like listening to bebop jazz – there is a certain disjointed nature to the prose/music which can be off putting to the casual reader/listener, but ultimately rewarding to those willing to look deeper and explore the words/sounds and find themselves.

There are passages in Bluebottle that play like jazz riffs – interesting on their own, but on first look/listen having little to do with the story/music as a whole, but patience is rewarded with a dawning of wonder as everything comes back around to complete the whole.


As Lew Griffin leaves a New Orleans music club with an older white woman he's just met, someone fires a shot and Lew goes down. When he comes fully to, Griffin discovers that most of a year has gone by since that night.

What happened? Who was the woman? Which of them was the target? Who was the sniper? There are too many pieces missing, too few facts, and a powerful need to know why a year has been stolen from his life.

Weaving Griffin's search for identity – one of the recurring themes in this magnificent series of novels – with a sensuous portrait of the people and places the define New Orleans, Sallis continues not only to unravel Griffin's past but to map his future…and our own.

Somewhere in the Crescent City – and in the white supremacist movement crawling through it – there's an answer to the questions left by the shot that echoed through the night. But to get it, Griffin is going to have to work with the only people offering help, people he knows he should avoid: allies if he can trust them, and worse trouble for him if he can't.

Bluebottle continues the mysterious journey begun in Sallis's The Long-Legged Fly and continues, too, to show the growth and mastery of one of America's finest crime fiction stylists.

James Sallis is an acquired taste – hardboiled bebop is not for everyone, but for those who want to go beyond Chandler, Hammett, and those who dutifully followed, Sallis will challenge you, give you a different perspective, and take you to a different landscape beyond tradition.

1 comment:

Todd Mason said...

Well, some of his 1970s science fiction went beyond that to free jazz. As a Sallis fan since back when, I should eventually catch up with this one...