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Palos Verdes Blue - Review

PALOS VERDES BLUE is the 11th entry in the Jack Liffey series. Jack is not a PI by trade, his skill is in finding missing kids. Mr. Shannon is an author that came to my attention about year ago. Like most Crime Fiction readers I am fascinated by Los Angles. Robert Crais and Michael Connelly cover contemporary LA better than anyone. While James Ellroy's LA Quartet maybe the City's document of the past. This doesn't even begin to cover writers like Chandler, MacDonald, et.al.

So where has John Shannon been all my life. An 11 series run is nothing sneeze at as publishing firms collapse in on themselves and the mid-list author is frozen out in the cold. Even before this blog found its way in to creation I liked to think I keep an eye out for 'talent.' John Shannon just shows the incredible amount of talent that exists in crime fiction. A writer, even a well established one, can be discovered every day.

As a 'series' reader it goes against my mild case of OCD to pick up an author this late in the game. Almost as an experiment it was intriguing to me, one that left me wondering if all of Mr. Shannon's books are this way. The missing child is a teenage girl that has already been gone for a week as PALOS VERDES BLUE opens. Jack is hired by the mother to find her.

I'm not giving anything away by saying that a resolution comes, but not in the way any other book has delivered it. And by that I don't mean in a narrative sense, I mean structurally. The book is filled with letters from two people. One set of letters comes from a boy who was involved with the missing girl, the other set of letters from an illegal immigrant worker. The letters are not referenced in anyway within the story. They exists as a kind of flashback, but they also further the story. Eventually Jack finds that the key to the girl's disappearance lays with her relationship with the illegal Mexican laborers who inhabit the homes of the rich beach dwellers. It is here that Mr. Shannon really turns his attention to how the Mexican underclass survives in a country that can barely stand to look them in the eye. The message is never heavy handed, but Mr. Shannon definitely has an agenda. While Mr. Shannon's focus maybe elsewhere he deftly weaves the larger threads of the disappearance through the novel. I am struck by the sneaking suspicion that this is the work of a master. Mr. Shannon's ability to leave the 'mystery' behind, but still create one that engages the reader is very special.

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