Reviews and Comment: The Concrete River (1996)


Michael Connelly, bestselling author of Bloodwork

"Tough and engaging. The Concrete River is my kind of L.A. novel--hard as nails with a soft spot in the middle. Philip Marlow would have been proud of his contemporary heir."


Kent Anderson, author of Night Dogs

"Shannon is a fine writer. Make no mistake, this is the real L.A., real people, some of them the kind you cross the street to avoid, looking everywhere but at them. Take a walk with Jack Liffey, a brave and decent man. Take a look at Raymond Chandlerís mean streets at the millennium."


Michael Harris, Los Angeles Times, June 2, 1996
By Keir Graff

"Call them whydunits--mystery novels with a progressive political slant.

"In the Concrete River, John Shannon writes of a contemporary Los Angeles with rainy winter skies, abandoned plants, idle fishing boats, 'a slum that rivaled South Africa" and residents infected by a 'grievance they can't put their finger on, a disease of anger.'

"Shannon's hero, Jack Liffey, thinks he knows why: In the 199os, he muses, 'nobody gives a damn, nobody was putting anything but token effort into fixing things, as a sort of social entropy carried a whole country down into chaos. The poor suffered, the rulers turned their backs, and the rich retreated into armed enclaves."

"Liffey is a 50-ish, laid-off aerospace worker, divorced and recovering from a bout with drink and drugs. He scratches out a living in Culver City as a private eye who specializes in finding missing children. Murder cases aout of his league.

"But when a Latina activist is found drowned in a strom drain, her mother hires Liffey to investigate. The trail leads him to the barrios of Cahuenga (East L.A.), to romance with an ex-nun turned social worker, Eleanor Ong, and to a showdown with a BMW-driving, cornpone-joking killer called the Cowboy.

"Shannon ("The Taking of the Waters") writes stories with a bleak, European, existentialist feel, mixed in this case with absurdist touches: Foam plastic cups and tennis balls