Monday, May 31, 2010

Shannon Triumphant

A couple of weeks ago, I mentioned in my review of Gar Anthony Haywood’s Cemetery Road that his fellow Southern California author, John Shannon, has a new Jack Liffey detective novel due out from Britain’s Severn House. That book, On the Nickel, should arrive in stores next month--and it is one of the very best entries in a terrific series.

Booklist had this to say about On the Nickel:
Previous episodes in Shannon’s consistently engaging Jack Liffey series have moved about California, but this time the “finder of lost children” stays put--literally, at least in the beginning, as the trauma of being buried alive in a mudslide (Palos Verdes Blue, 2009) has left him without a voice and unable to use his legs (doctors feel the symptoms have a psychological basis). As in previous episodes, though, Jack’s high-school-age daughter, Maeve, steps in to help her dad (without telling him, of course).
Without giving away too much of Shannon’s great plot, I can say that it involves the search for a runaway 16-year-old, greedy downtown developers, and the conflict between Skid Row habitués who don’t have much money and thugs who haven’t much sympathy.

As usual, Liffey’s relationship with his daughter is a thing of beauty and anxiety--even though, throughout most of this new yarn, he can communicate with her only by the means of laborious printing.
Jack Liffey pointed to WHO CALLED on his master list. “Nothing important, Dad,” Maeve said. “You gotta get over thinking I’m always up to something.” It took him a while to scribble WHEN DID THE POPE STOP WEARING A DRESS?
To explain his new novel’s title, Shannon writes: “L.A.’s Skid Row is known locally as The Nickel because its east-west axis is Fifth Street. It’s a roughly fifty-block area of warehouses, missions, and nondescript brick buildings that in the late afternoon finds itself literally in the shadow of the modern glass-and-steel eighty-story skyline on Bunker Hill half a mile west. The Nickel has the largest concentration of homeless people in the United States: between 8,000 and 11,000 souls live here, many of them scrambling nightly for charity shelters, single-room-occupancy hotels or makeshift tents, plastic lean-tos and refrigerator boxes ...”

You can discover much more about this sad quarter of Southern California’s largest city, and about Liffey and his daughter, by taking a flyer on On the Nickel.

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