Cover image for Terminal Island : a Jack Liffey mystery
Terminal Island : a Jack Liffey mystery
Shannon, John, 1943-
Personal Author:
First Carroll and Graf edition.
Publication Information:
New York : Carroll & Graf Publishers, [2004]

Physical Description:
276 pages ; 24 cm
General Note:
"An Otto Penzler book."
Format :


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Terminal Island is the latest book from top mystery writer John Shannon. While detective Jack Liffey is convalescing from a collapsed lung from his last case, he is called to his hometown of San Pedro, shipyard to Los Angeles, where an inexplicable string of mysterious accidents have befallen local residents; a child turns up missing, a fishing boat sinks, a life's work is destroyed--and Japanese playing cards with cryptic notes are left at the scenes. At the same time, Jack begins to read snatches from the diary of Joe Ozaki, an enraged Japanese American ex-Green Beret who has vowed to avenge U.S. misdeeds against his father and other Japanese Americans interned during World War II. Eventfully Jack crosses paths with Joe Ozaki, when the Green Beret targets the detective's own father. The showdown between Jack and Ozaki comes to a head on a sealed-off Terminal Island, where escape is difficult and the final outcome anyone's guess.

Reviews 3

Booklist Review

The seventh Jack Liffey mystery holds to the same high standard as its predecessors. Liffey, the finder of lost children, is still suffering the aftereffects of a bomb blast in City of Strangers0 (2003) when he's reluctantly drawn into a case by Ken Steelyard, a childhood friend who's now a cop. A series of strange incidents--an abducted goth kid, a wrecked model-train layout, a sunken fishing boat--leads them to a crime in the past that's being avenged by an unusual perpetrator. The word mystery0 seems unfairly limiting here. The folks in marketing might balk, but because Liffey's cases can't be cracked without examination of beliefs, behaviors, and ideas, subtitling the book A Jack Liffey Inquiry 0 might be more apropos. Terminal Island0 really portrays the collision of two tragic figures, the unhappy Steelyard and an intellectually atrophied antagonist obsessed with honor and revenge. Liffey and Steelyard track clues, and there's a thrilling chase at the end, but the meat of the book is in Shannon's rumination on topics like race, warrior codes and human frailty, and responsibility for sins of fathers. A terrific hard-boiled series offering a blinders-off look at ethnic L.A. --Keir Graff Copyright 2004 Booklist

Publisher's Weekly Review

In this morally complex and absorbing novel, Jack Liffey, who specializes in finding lost children, is recovering from injuries sustained on his last case (2003's City of Strangers). Now his doctor, his daughter and his lady friend are all insisting he stop working for a while. But he's unable to resist a call for help from a childhood friend whose teenage son is kidnapped. It's only the first in a string of bizarre crimes, each punctuated with a Japanese playing card and a cryptic message. In a setup vaguely reminiscent of Mystic River, the police lieutenant heading the investigation is a third childhood friend, now fighting his own demons, and the locus of the crimes is the working-class town where they all grew up and where a thriving Japanese community was obliterated by WWII internment camps. The book's emotional power comes from Shannon's beautifully developed theme of intergenerational family relationships. The perpetrator's diary, paralleling the investigation, shows true filial love and honor but also the twisted sort of vengeance that begets madness. Liffey himself is caught between protecting the bigoted father he despises and the wise, compassionate 16-year-old daughter he adores, and he's conflicted about the growing relationship between them. The story climaxes with a highly original escape scene and an upside-down ending that simultaneously surprises and feels just right. Agent, Amy Rennert. (June 1) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved

Library Journal Review

Still recovering from a collapsed lung from his last case (City of Strangers), Jack Liffey reluctantly returns to his hometown of San Pedro to investigate a series of mysterious incidents: a missing child, a sunken boat, a vandalized model train set, and a manuscript destroyed. They are linked by the Japanese playing card, inscribed with a cryptic message, left at each site. To make matters worse, Jack's estranged father, Declan, is one of the victims. As Jack digs deeper, the trail of clues lead him back to the World War II internment of Japanese Americans-and the possible role is his racist father may have played in committing a gross injustice. While Shannon still displays a keen eye for the bizarre, colorful aspects of L.A. life and a mordant wit ("the SWAT cops...were the American metaphor, Jack Liffey thought: over-equipped and underbrained"), this novel is a disappointment. The tired plot is just not that interesting or suspenseful, and the tragic "villain" is a cardboard clich?. Start with Shannon's earlier, better books in the series, e.g., The Orange Curtain. Shannon lives in Los Angeles.[Previewed in Mystery Prepub Alert, LJ 4/1/04.]-Wilda Williams, Library Journal (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.