From Publishers Weekly
In this morally complex and absorbing novel, Jack Liffey, who specializes in finding lost children, is recovering from injuries sustained on his last case (2003's City of Strangers
). Now his doctor, his daughter and his lady friend are all insisting he stop working for a while. But he's unable to resist a call for help from a childhood friend whose teenage son is kidnapped. It's only the first in a string of bizarre crimes, each punctuated with a Japanese playing card and a cryptic message. In a setup vaguely reminiscent of Mystic River
, the police lieutenant heading the investigation is a third childhood friend, now fighting his own demons, and the locus of the crimes is the working-class town where they all grew up and where a thriving Japanese community was obliterated by WWII internment camps. The book's emotional power comes from Shannon's beautifully developed theme of intergenerational family relationships. The perpetrator's diary, paralleling the investigation, shows true filial love and honor but also the twisted sort of vengeance that begets madness. Liffey himself is caught between protecting the bigoted father he despises and the wise, compassionate 16-year-old daughter he adores, and he's conflicted about the growing relationship between them. The story climaxes with a highly original escape scene and an upside-down ending that simultaneously surprises and feels just right.
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.
The seventh Jack Liffey mystery holds to the same high standard as its predecessors. Liffey, the finder of lost children, is still suffering the aftereffects of a bomb blast in City of Strangers
(2003) when he's reluctantly drawn into a case by Ken Steelyard, a childhood friend who's now a cop. A series of strange incidents--an abducted goth kid, a wrecked model-train layout, a sunken fishing boat--leads them to a crime in the past that's being avenged by an unusual perpetrator. The word mystery
seems unfairly limiting here. The folks in marketing might balk, but because Liffey's cases can't be cracked without examination of beliefs, behaviors, and ideas, subtitling the book A Jack Liffey Inquiry
might be more apropos. Terminal Island
really portrays the collision of two tragic figures, the unhappy Steelyard and an intellectually atrophied antagonist obsessed with honor and revenge. Liffey and Steelyard track clues, and there's a thrilling chase at the end, but the meat of the book is in Shannon's rumination on topics like race, warrior codes and human frailty, and responsibility for sins of fathers. A terrific hard-boiled series offering a blinders-off look at ethnic L.A. Keir GraffCopyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved