Black Hornet

Black Hornet - James Sallis With Black Hornet, I'm realizing that the Lew Griffin series is entirely the written memories of an older man looking back on and contemplating major events in his life. While the first novel, [b:The Long-Legged Fly|176381|The Long-Legged Fly (Lew Griffin, #1)|James Sallis||1098952], jumps around in time to study a changing man through different decades and the second novel, [b:Moth|176383|Moth (Lew Griffin, #2)|James Sallis||1872980], expands more on the 1990's part of his life, in Black Hornet, Lew remembers more events from the 1960's, expanding on the first part of Fly. What struck me, was how much the book actually did feel like a memory, even more so than the previous stories. Lew's narration seems to be unstuck in time, paralleling the past and present, cross-referencing not only things that have happened, but events to come and filling in some of the blanks between events that we are aware of from the previous books (maybe this is material for the later novels in the series?). All of this gives a great sense of an old man looking back on life with waning memory.

This story focuses on the younger Lew of the 1960's section of Fly, a raging drinker and debt collector, who is still far away from the best-selling novelist, professor, and sometime private detective that we know from the 1990's. He meets Esmé Dupuy in a bar, a white journalist who he has a drink with but who is soon gunned down right in front of him, the latest victim of a sniper that's been terrorizing New Orleans shooting white people. Lew is set on tracking the man down (an event that is alluded to in Moth). And in doing so, we get to witness Lew meeting different people that we know will be important friends in the times to come.

This book has a very different atmosphere from the previous books in the series. There's more of a focus on race and racial identity and protest, probably coming out of being set in the racially-charged and political '60's. Lew finds himself adrift in this world, bumping into militant groups like the Panthers, and even meeting and rubbing shoulders with a socially-angry [a:Chester Himes|4392029|Chester Himes|] at an event for the author, a scene that turns out to be a great homage to one of Sallis's inspirations. Although the book is pretty short, I took my time with it and soaked in Sallis's passionate prose, enjoying yet another great book in a series focusing on identity and memory.