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The Dark Streets: A Jack Liffey Mystery (Jack Liffey Mysteries) Hardcover – December 1, 2006

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Product Details

  • Series: Jack Liffey Mysteries
  • Hardcover: 304 pages
  • Publisher: Pegasus; First Edition edition (December 1, 2006)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1933648201
  • ISBN-13: 978-1933648200
  • Product Dimensions: 1.2 x 6.1 x 9.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.2 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (7 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #3,561,734 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

In the ninth Jack Liffey mystery (after 2005's Dangerous Games), Shannon once again skillfully dissects the sociocultural landscape of Los Angeles. When a young female film student and activist, Soon-Lin Kim, goes missing in Koreatown, Liffey discovers that Kim had been shooting a documentary about a group of former "comfort women," Korean-born women living in L.A. who had been forced into military brothels by the Japanese during the 1930s and '40s. Kim was at work exposing the shady wartime past of the conglomerate Daeshin, now responsible for evicting the elderly women from their downtown rooming house. Meanwhile, Liffey's 17-year-old daughter, Maeve, has fallen for a Latino gang member; his relationship with police detective Gloria Ramirez is suffering growing pains; and, frankly, he's just tired. When Liffey ends up abducted and imprisoned in a desert compound, Gloria has to step up to investigate his disappearance before a battle between the Feds and a militant Asian-American group erupts. This underrated series remains consistently provocative. (Feb.)
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

From Booklist

Jack Liffey is a walking conscience, a bruised crusader who remains an unerring advocate of doing things the hard way and on behalf of the little guy. His ninth adventure begins with a Korean American businessman's search for his missing daughter, a budding filmmaker who's documenting the plight of the "comfort women" forced into sexual slavery in World War II. Her trail leads Liffey to both a paranoid group of activists and some scary government contractors--and ultimately to a Waco-like standoff in the desert. There's a lot packed into this ambitious book, including examinations of both antiterrorist hysteria and the dangers posed by high-minded ideals. And while the intellectual journey is every bit as keen as we've come to expect, the storytelling doesn't gel quite as well as his previous bests, The Orange Curtain (2001) and City of Strangers (2003). A subplot involving Liffey's 17-year-old daughter, Maeve, stands too far apart from the story, and, finally, despite the quality of the conversation, it's a bit too talky. But fans of thinking-man's detective fiction will find much to ponder. Keir Graff
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved

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Customer Reviews

3.1 out of 5 stars
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

5 of 5 people found the following review helpful By TMStyles VINE VOICE on February 4, 2009
Format: Paperback
"The Dark Streets" is John Shannon's ninth novel but only the first that I have read featuring Jack Liffey, a street-wise sleuth who specializes in finding missing persons. The plot begins simply enough but soon gets convoluted as Jack's search for a missing Korean girl, Soon-Lin Kim, suddenly leads to his "disappearance" due to an over-zealous Homeland Security group (ISOC) and ultimately leads to a Waco/Ruby Ridge-like confrontation in the desert near El Centro.

I surmise that long time readers of this series know the characters in some depth and Shannon does seem to expend considerable effort in character development; however, I never became seriously attached to any of the characters and felt his 17 year old daughter, Maeve, in a ludicrous subplot, was a witless undisciplined dunce.

There is some nimble plotting involving several Los Angeles based cultures that come into conflict including Mexican gangs, Korean nationals, white suburbanites, and idealistic young revolutionaries. Some of this cultural conflict is juxtaposed within chapters that seem to compare the experiences of Koreans in wartime drama with Mexicans in current street war drama. The whole subplot dealing with the atrocity surrounding the Korean "comfort women" exploited by the Japanese army in WWII is well woven into the fabric of the plot. However, the Mexican gang life subplot involving Maeve hit this reader as hard-to-believe gullibility on the part of a "with-it" 17 year old.

This reader found the pacing to be somewhat slow and the plotting, in general, certainly without enough action or excitement to be classed as either action-packed or as a thriller of any kind.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful By Cardiff Camel on December 25, 2007
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
I read a positive review of Mr. Shannon's Jack Liffey Series in the New York or LA Times some time last year. I was sorry I had not come across the series before as I am very fond of mysteries that provide a strong sense of place e.g. Spencer and Boston. I began with the Liffey mystery Concrete River and then because I liked that one quite a lot bought the others - mostly going book by book through the series. I have been increasingly put off but the family stuff however. It just doesn't work for me. I am totally in favor of sub-plots (and like at least one or two to be included) but Mr. Liffey's ex-wife and his reckless obnoxious daughter just don't work for me. I inwardly groan every time they show up on the page. The Dark Streets is interesting and overall quite a good read, but the teen daughter's involvement with the Latino Gang-banger was disgusting and tedious. And now she is pregnant! (How dumb can this girl be!) I anticipate the (dumb obnoxious) daughter and her Gang-banger paramour to have an ever increasing presence in the Liffey series and perhaps their child will be included in the plot also. So unfortunately the Dark Streets and pregnant Maeve have ended my romance with this series.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By M. S. Butch VINE VOICE on April 21, 2009
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
I am normally a fan of mysteries and thrillers that are heavy on character development and that let me share in the main characters' life as it develops from book to book. In this book, however, the plot suffers - it seems to be a token side-issue compared to the story of Korean "comfort women" and of Liffey's daughter Maeve.

So -- the biggest problem, as has been noted vociferously by other reviewers, is Maeve. Maeve has generally been depicted as a smart, not particularly rebellious teenager. And this girl decides to turn herself into a gangsta moll? Puh-leeze. She must be aware that the lives of these gang members are going nowhere (unlike hers) and I can't see her longing to "fit in" with them. Furthermore, I can't imagine her being dumb enough to jump into a sexual relationship with one of them, and not use protection against pregnancy and AIDs. This isn't the '50s!

Although the passages about the Korean "comfort women" were interesting, they were left adrift in the text -- all they did was justify the work of the missing Korean teenager. I expected a lot more relating to the post-war actions of the Japanese and saving the residence hotel, but none of it was there. Just a tiny and ineffective group of kids.

I expected more.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By booksforabuck VINE VOICE on September 1, 2007
Format: Hardcover
Jack Liffey doen't get Korean clients very often, but when an eighteen-year-old Korean girl goes missing, Jack is hired to bring her home. Liffey has his rules--he doesn't bring anyone home to abuse--but he normally gets the job done. Only something goes very wrong with this job almost from the beginning. The girl, Soon-Lin Kim had been involved in protests against a Los Angeles development that would, she thought, eliminate housing for a number of older people. To add insult to injury, the company behind the development was a Korean conglomerate that had once been involved in supplying Korean 'comfort women' (forced prostitutes) to the Japanese armies of World War II. At least one of the residents was a former comfort woman.

While Liffey looks for a missing girl, his own daughter, only a year or so younger than Soon-Lin, is having a crisis of her own. Her hormones are running strong and she's attracted to the gang member who lives next door to Liffey. Liffey is too busy to see Maeve's danger signs and when his girlfriend urges him to talk to his daughter, he accepts her assurance that all is well.

As Liffey investigates, he falls into the post-9/11 world where a single word from someone can lead to being disappeared.

Author John Shannon writes compellingly of the multiple cultures whose uneasy mingling makes up the culture of Los Angeles. Mexican gangs, first and second generation Koreans, and cops who sometimes seem to form a gang of their own fill the pages. Jack Liffey himself is a memorable character. Although he projects an air of cynicism, it's clear that he still hopes to make a difference--if not to the world at large, at least for those young people whom he rescues.

THE DARK STREETS is an uncomfortable book.
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