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On the Nickel
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Shannon's solid 12th Jack Liffey mystery finds Liffey, whose specialty is locating lost children, pretty lost himself. The accident he suffered in 2009's Palos Verdes Blue, the previous entry, has left him without the use of his legs or his vocal cords and dependent on teenage daughter Maeve and unofficial wife Gloria Ramirez, an LAPD sergeant. Maeve involves all three of them in a search for Conor Lewis, a16-year-old runaway, that begins in "the Nickel," L.A.'s skid row. The precariousness of skid row life collides with the greed and ambition of developers as a decrepit hotel becomes a battleground between three old tenants clinging to their rights and a pair of ruthless thugs determined to remove them. When Maeve winds up caught in the middle, Liffey tries desperately to overcome his handicaps to save her. Shannon's characters are often almost comically exaggerated, but it's easy to root for the Liffey family to succeed. An appendix lists the author's sources for life on the Nickel. (July) Copyright 2010 Reed Business Information.

PI Jack Liffey was left a mute paraplegic following a landslide at the end of Palos Verdes Blue. He's engulfed in anger, frustration, and helplessness, and his doctors say it's all psychosomatic. When an old friend calls for help in locating his runaway son, Liffey's teenage daughter Maeve intercepts the call and takes on the case, hoping to help her father's recovery. She immediately gets in over her head, trolling the depths of L.A.'s skid row for the lost boy. She finds the boy in a transient hotel, but the two end up targets of a pair of ruthless thugs hired by the slumlord to clear the premises. Jack and his partner, Gloria, an LAPD sergeant, come to the rescue, but not without a conflagration and considerable bloodshed. Verdict A young adult plot set in a very gritty and brutal locale interspersed with news clips detailing the political turmoil of homelessness in Los Angeles and very unrealistic teenage dialog make this a confusing addition to Shannon's (Terminal Island; Concrete River) well-received neonoir series. Shannon's anger and frustration with the city's management of poverty and homelessness are clearly the point of this book, and it unfortunately overshadows the plot. Not recommended.-Susan Clifford Braun, Aerospace Corp., El Segundo, CA Copyright 2010 Reed Business Information.

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