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Streets on Fire: A Jack Liffey Mystery Hardcover – Apr 16 2002


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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 240 pages
  • Publisher: Carroll & Graf (April 16 2002)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0786710187
  • ISBN-13: 978-0786710188
  • Product Dimensions: 23.1 x 15.2 x 2.5 cm
  • Shipping Weight: 567 g
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (10 customer reviews)

Customer Reviews

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By Untouchable on June 10 2004
Format: Hardcover
In the 5th book of the Jack Liffey series, John Shannon has created dual plots that start off as two completely separate incidents, but become extremely significant to each other and to the outcome of the story. His control of these plots is very effective, never letting one storyline take over the other. Instead, he just reminds us occasionally that there is "another danger" out there.
Jack Liffey is an unofficial private detective who specialises in finding missing children. In this case, the plot that has Liffey's attention is an investigation into the disappearance of a black boy and his white girlfriend. There is a strong suggestion that their disappearance may have something to do with an earlier altercation with a bike gang.
In the course of his investigation, Liffey crosses paths with the aforementioned bike gang, has a major run-in with an unusual but extremely dangerous religious group and meets Ornetta, the delightful shining light of the story. Ornetta is an 11-year-old girl who has an incredible gift for storytelling. She steals every scene in which she appears, which is fortunately many.
The wider storyline running in parallel to the Liffey focus is a wave of rioting that has broken out throughout L.A. on the back of the knocking unconscious of a black baseball star by a member of the LAPD. The riots are triggered when the officer involved is acquitted of any wrongdoing. The ongoing riots play a major part in the story as Liffey is caught up in them in a desperate race against time while crossing from one side of the city to the other.
A much larger role in this book compared to earlier books is given to Maeve, Jack's 15 year old daughter.
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By John Bowes on June 30 2002
Format: Hardcover
It's well written and literate, but its passive protagonist and children as heroes/victims just don't engage the reader. Why are these kids wandering around the middle of an urban riot? How does our hero so easily find a child stolen by bikers, who really aren't so bad after all?
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Format: Hardcover
Apocalypses of all sorts--from earthquakes to toxic clouds--frame the vision of
Los Angeles shown in the blunt and brilliant crime novels of John Shannon, so
when his Jack Liffey notices "dark columns of smoke rising up and then shearing
off westward at several points in South Central, offerings unacceptable to the
gods" quite early in this fifth book in the series, you know that fiery hell is soon to
break loose.
Michael Connelly's best-selling L.A. cop is named after painter Hieronymus
Bosch, but Shannon's backgrounds are straight out of Goya: savagely sardonic
comments on the quirks of life. Watching a parade of blacks protesting police
brutality, Liffey is amazed to see the marchers suddenly break step and execute
a perfect pair of Zulu war kicks. "Even here in the world of cell phones and MTV,
the Zulu strut carried a kind of bizarre menace, as if thrusting onlookers into a
dimension where ordinary defenses might not work."
Liffey, who specializes in finding missing children, knows from the start that the
two lost young people he has been hired to trace this time are almost certainly
dead: The black college student and his white girlfriend have disappeared after a
run-in with a racist motorcycle gang called the Bone Losers--so far down on the
mental food chain that they can't even spell their chosen name right. But the
young man is the adopted, much-loved son of a famous activist couple in South
Central, and Liffey's detective friend Ivan Monk (on loan from Gary Phillips'
excellent series) recommends Liffey for the job.
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Format: Hardcover
When a young interracial couple vanishes, private detective Jack Liffey is hired to investigate. It isn't a good time for Jack--he's worried about his girlfriend and his daughter, and it isn't a good time for Los Angeles, racked by racial tension and riot, but Liffey goes to work. The police and even the FBI have muddied the waters but the missing man's niece gives him his biggest clue. Now if Liffey can stay along long enough, he may learn the truth. Unfortunately for him, staying alive is difficult when a well armed and determined group of Christian extremists are after you.
Author John Shannon delivers an emotionally compelling and satisfying mystery. Liffey's attempts at detection are bounded at one side by his daughter's attempts to help--which end up creating any father's ultimate nightmare--and at the other by the riots that threaten to send Los Angeles into flames. Clinging to his much abused moral code, Liffey must survive both white extremists and African-American gang bangers.
Shannon brings a left-wing slant to his writing, but this doesn't keep him from delivering an exciting and fast-paced adventure.
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Format: Hardcover
Streets on Fire. What's all the controversy about? This is a great book that elevates the mystery genre. It challenges, provokes, and informs the reader. One will not find a better rendering of the contemporary L.A. landscape anywhere. The plot is well-known by now: Jack Liffey, existentialist gumshoe, sets out to find two missing college students against a backdrop of heightening racial tension. And he winds up in a wheelbarrow, where suspense and absurdity mix in equal parts. This book is inventive, funny, and socially redemptive. Any fan of mysteries, Los Angeles, and American history should not miss it.
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