Cover image for The orange curtain : a Jack Liffey mystery
The orange curtain : a Jack Liffey mystery
Shannon, John, 1943-
Personal Author:
First Carroll and Graf edition.
Publication Information:
New York : Carroll & Graf Publishers, 2001.
Physical Description:
230 pages ; 24 cm
Format :


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If you've not met Jack Liffey -- and every mystery lover should -- here's your chance. This taut new novel featuring author John Shannon's "brave and decent" hero also offers you the perfect opportunity to get hooked on this much-admired mystery series. Liffey's turf is the sprawling, deceptively open cityscape of greater Los Angeles with its forgotten suburbs, its volatile communities, its dangerous neighborhoods. To the anguished despair of parents and protectors, it's a city that holds lots of dark, secreted places for sons and daughters to hide. Or be hidden. Jack Liffey may have lost his job in the aerospace industry but he has found his calling -- tracking down lost children. His case in The Orange Curtain takes him deep into the Los Angeles Vietnamese community, where a beautiful young woman, Phuong -- her name means Phoenix -- has disappeared. The exotic realities and complex alliances of Little Saigon are not all that Liffey has to contend with, however. Beyond its boundaries there's a sad young man named Billy. Billy likes to watch people, and he has a relationship with his mother as strange as any in Hitchcock.

Reviews 3

Booklist Review

The mean streets trod by the knight-errant of the classic hard-boiled, private-eye novel seem perpetually dark and gritty. Still, the archetypal PI, Philip Marlowe, patrolled the sunny, palm-lined streets of the City of Angels. So does Jack Liffey, "finder of lost children." But Marlowe's L.A. looked a lot different than Liffey's turf, a massive sprawl of roiling ethnicities, cultures, and customs. In this fourth installment in the series, the disappearance of a bright and beautiful Vietnamese American college student named Phoung takes Liffey into the Vietnamese communities behind the Orange (County) Curtain, as well as into L.A.'s Little Saigon, where the politics of a long-past war can still be fatal. Along the way, Liffey is menaced by Vietnamese street gangs and treated to drive-by views of scenes a contemporary Hieronymus Bosch might paint. Yet throughout, he retains his Marlowe-like decency and steadfastness and even his sense of humor. Those new to this superb but relatively unknown series will want to search out the three earlier Liffey novels, all paperback originals: The Concrete River (1996), The Cracked Earth (1999), and The Poison Sky (2000). --Thomas Gaughan

Publisher's Weekly Review

Readers who like gritty noir leavened by genuine heart and a healthy dollop of erudition a 93-year-old Phillip Marlowe makes an appearance will love Shannon's fourth Jack Liffey mystery (after The Poison Sky). Shannon returns to a Los Angeles the Hollywood types don't even drive through. Jack Liffey, who hunts missing kids, lost his once comfy life in the aerospace bust. The job, wife and custody of his beloved daughter are gone. What he's got is a jealous girlfriend, a junker car, a disconcerting fear of death and a sentimental bent toward trying to protect the innocent. He crosses the "Orange curtain" between the random craziness of L.A. and Orange County's Little Saigon to search for Phuong Minh, a Vietnamese bookseller's daughter. The compassionate, intelligent sleuth is just beginning to pick his way through gang clashes, county politics and successful comes-ons by Phuong's mentor, lovely, aggressive businesswoman Tien Joubert, when Phuong's body is found in the hills. She was shot, apparently the victim of a serial killer. From the start, Shannon has given readers an uneasy idea of who that killer might be. Young Billy Gudger's story unfolds alongside Jack Liffey's and an obsessive, lonely, frightening story it is. When the parallel lines meet, Shannon delivers a tour-de-force climax, with the action believably, and beautifully, driven by each character's needs. There's nothing super-heroic about Jack Liffey, but he's an unusually decent and interesting guy. (Apr. 1) Forecast: Relatively unknown, Shannon could break out with this book, rights to which have already been sold to the U.K., Germany, France and Japan. (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved

Library Journal Review

LA's Jack Liffey tracks down missing children for a living, but, try as he may, he cannot find Minh Trac's college-aged daughter. Beautiful, extremely bright, and highly motivated, the young woman has vanished until she turns up dead, the latest victim of the "Sagebrush Killer." Liffey toils on, though, despite being mugged by a Vietnamese gang, detoured by a controversial regional airport development scheme, and initially evaded by the murderer in question. Wry humor and a brilliant collection of bizarre characters will endear this fourth novel in the Jack Liffey series to many. Highly recommended. (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.