PALOS VERDES BLUE
Dear Editors, Reviewers and Readers,
In a world where books have become “product” and the ones called mysteries are too frequently indistinguishable, I take immense pride and pleasure in having been the remarkable John Shannon’s editor for almost a decade. Palos Verdes Blue (April), now in your hands, is the eleventh Jack Liffey title and, like each of its predecessors, it defies simple description.
A finder of lost children, though not a licensed p.i., Jack Liffey begins each case on a note of confident uncertainty. He knows what he doesn’t know, but is always curious, always willing to learn. And the vast Los Angeles sprawl into which he sets forth each time quickly reveals itself as a microcosm of our own even more unknowable world. Like us, Jack must continually struggle to come to terms with his humanity in the face of the many differences and self-interests that initially confound him, eventually threaten him and often violently impede his progress.
The joy of the series -- which is, in equal measure, comic, existential and action-packed -- is being along for the ride. (Note, please, that in PV Blue, it’s an especially bumpy one.)
But what I really want to say --- besides read this book and help make John Shannon the household name he deserves to be --- is that, even before November 2008 showed that the U.S. was ready to embrace diversity, Shannon and Jack Liffey together were mapping the American mosaic, a single vibrantly empowered community at a time: among them, Vietnamese (The Orange Curtain, 2001); African-American (Streets on Fire, 2002); Arab-American (City of Strangers, 2003); Japanese-American (Terminal Island, 2004); Native-American (Dangerous Games, 2005) and Korean-American (The Dark Streets, 2006).
Never not politically engaged, John Shannon last year -- as the Bush era, one could only hope, was drawing to a close --- gave us The Devils of Bakersfield, in which he purposefully, and thrillingly, sent Jack Liffey head-on into territory controlled by the Christian right. Thus, with the publication of Palos Verdes Blue,* I’m seizing the opportunity to proclaim John Shannon and Jack Liffey what they’ve earned the right to be: the quintessential mystery writer and mystery hero for the Age of Obama.
With thanks for your attention --- and please feel free to contact me if you’d like to ask questions about John Shannon or the history of the Jack Liffey series,
* In PV Blue, Jack Liffey must earn the trust of a clutch of Mexican-American migrant workers and also of a few disaffected affluent suburban teens, at the same time knocking heads with a bunch of career surfers.
Copyright © John Shannon 2009. All rights reserved.