Black Hornet
James Sallis

Book cover image

Narrated By: G. Valmont Thomas

Duration: 4 hours and 20 minutes

What to expect

A sniper appears in 1960s New Orleans, a sun-baked city of Black Panthers and other separatists. Five people have been fatally shot. When the sixth victim is killed, Lew Griffin is standing beside her. He's black and she's white, and though they are virtual strangers, it is left to Griffin to avenge her death, or at least to try and make some sense of it. His unlikely allies include a crusading black journalist, a longtime supplier of mercenary arms and troops, and bail bondsman Frankie DeNoux. Yet it is the character of Lew Griffin that takes center stage, as in each of Sallis's highly praised books. He is by now, in this prequel, well on the way to becoming what he will be: violent, kind, contradictory, alcoholic. Both naïve and wise, he is a man cursed by unspeakable demons, yet seemingly encircled by redemptive angels awaiting an opening.


Crime and mystery fiction

Listen to a sample

“With two fine crime works in the tales of black operative Lew Griffin (Moth and The Long-Legged Fly), Sallis here delivers another: a prequel and a grim, utterly absorbing novel set in 1960s New Orleans…Sallis’ New Orleans sparkles gaudily even in the passionate economy of his prose, marked by such arresting images as that of twelve-string blues shot through with the amber from the dregs of a shot glass.”

Publishers Weekly

“Unlike Philip Marlowe and most of his brethren, whose cynicism is only trench-coat deep—a tough-talking veneer masking a moral purist—Lew Griffin is the real thing, a cynic out of Celine or the Hemingway of In Our Time…This is powerful stuff, not for those to whom ‘hard-boiled’ is just a matter of style.”


“Black tough guy/narrator Lewis Griffin inhabits the often murky streets of New Orleans in a not-too-distant past-the early 1960s…Not a historical mystery in the strictest sense, perhaps, yet a vivid, focused portrayal of crime and the underlying racial tensions that can accompany it.”

Library Journal

“Enjoy a detective whose personality is complex and out of the ordinary, and a plot which involves the reader in some unusual scenarios.”