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, James Sallis continues not only to unravel Griffin's past but to map his future . . . and our own.
As Lew Griffin leaves a New Orleans music club with an older white woman he has just met, someone fires a shot and Lew goes down. When he comes to, he discovers that most of a year has gone by since that night. Who was the woman? Which of them was the target? Who was the shooter? Somewhere in the Crescent City—and in the white supremacist movement crawling through it—there's an answer. But to get to it, he is going to have to work with the only people offering help, people he knows he should avoid.
The multi-talented Sallis writes not only mainstream literary fiction (Renderings) but also books about jazz, science fiction and French literature. Most notably, though, he's the author of the splendid Lew Griffin mystery series (Eye of the Cricket, 1997, etc.). Griffin is an African American writer, occasional PI and New Orleans college teacher. His fifth outing takes readers back to an earlier, more troubled time in his life, when he was drinking heavily. But, as in the earlier novels, time moves back and forth (sometimes abruptly and disconcertingly) as Griffin tries to make sense of his own personal history. The story opens with Griffin recovering from gunshot wounds. He is temporarily blind and can't remember any details about the night that he was shot. All he knows is that he and a white woman, Dana Esmay, were leaving a seedy bar when they were gunned down. As Griffin, aided by his old friend Don Walsh, looks for the truth about who shot him and why, he undertakes a parallel search for a missing writer who has been researching a group of white supremacists. In this haunting tale, Griffin's first-person narrative abounds with literary quotes and allusions as readers are transported on a tide of evocative language into an impressionistic story of the year that Griffin spent recovering from his wounds. Sallis's voice is unique among mystery writers, and this novel, like previous ones in the series, is unforgettable.