James Sallis has been my reading companion for years, from his Lew Griffin noir series, through the stunning “Drive” and “Driven” pair, to his increasingly oblique recent lit-noir offerings. He writes with a wonderful literary yet spare style. “Sarah Jane,” his latest, promises plenty with its tale of a female sheriff with a baroque past investigating her ex-boss’s disappearance, but alas, the reputational allure is misplaced. Sallis’s last half dozen books have increasingly had skating, baffling plots (baffling, even, I have to say, to someone who loves to be mentally tested). “Sarah Jane” is a plot mess and although I revelled in the poetic language, the storyline flopped again and again and again. For completists only.