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Streets on fire
John Shannon
Adult Fiction SHANNON

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From Publishers' Weekly:

The specter of racial armageddon raises its ugly head in this extended diatribe that's more racial polemic than mystery novel, the fifth Jack Liffey caper after 2001's acclaimed The Orange Curtain. Shannon's rough-edged private dick is searching the L.A. streets for Amilcar Davis, the adopted son of a noted black civil rights activist of the '60s. Amilcar and his white girlfriend (from Simi Valley, so Shannon can drag in the Rodney King affair) have been missing since a run-in with a motorcycle gang. Even more ominously, the city is bracing for a racial confrontation since the choke-hold death of a prominent Black Muslim in a violent imbroglio with police. The result, not surprisingly, is a full-scale riot, from which Liffey barely escapes with his life. The author isn't much concerned with crime solving that's basically an afterthought what he's interested in doing is stirring up the pot. To do this, he tediously and irrelevantly mixes everything skinheads, the Christian Right, white supremacists and black separatists into an indigestible porridge with little regard for racial equanimity or, indeed, for truth. It goes far beyond mere didacticism: the tone is hysterical, the outcome preordained and unbelievable. (The only worthwhile diatribe is one against the long-forgotten Dr. Wertham, the Freudian psychologist who went after Batman and Robin in the '50s for being gay.) Critics have likened Shannon to Raymond Chandler, but based on this poorly plotted performance, he doesn't rate comparison with the forgotten Harry Stephen Keeler. (May 3) Forecast: With rights sold to Britain, France, Germany and Japan, this title should do just as well as The Orange Curtain, despite its weaknesses. Shannon will need to return to form in book six, though, if he's to keep building his audience. (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved

From Library Journal:

The Orange Curtain, Shannon's fifth Jack Liffey novel, garnered high praise from critics and drew readers' attention to an intelligent and literate hard-boiled crime series. In his sixth outing, Liffey, a former aerospace worker who tracks missing children for a living, has been hired by Bancroft Davis, a prominent black civil rights leader of the 1960s, to find Davis's missing adopted son and his white girlfriend, who disappeared after a run-in with a skinhead motorcycle gang. While Liffey's search takes him to reactionary Simi Valley, home to some white supremacist groups, the rest of Los Angeles is caught in a wave of unrest, stirred by the brutal police attack (shades of Rodney King) on Abdullah-Ibrahim, a black Muslim and the new star pitcher for the Dodgers. Unbeknownst to Liffey, his teenage daughter, Maeve, decides to play Nancy Drew (having just discovered the books) by also looking for the missing pair. Although the plot lines don't run as seamlessly as in the previous book, Shannon's latest is still full of memorable, fully rounded characters and richly detailed scenes of L.A. life at its most strange and bizarre. Strongly recommended. Wilda Williams, "Library Journal" (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

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