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    Review of CITY OF STRANGERS by John Shannon (see his website)


    Carroll & Graf, Publishers, 2003

    Since losing his job as an aerospace engineer, Jack Liffey has become something of a specialist in finding missing children. So, when an old school acquaintance asks him to find his missing daughter, Liffey is happy to help out--even if the acquaintance insists on reports and psychological analysis (he's a psychologist). The missing daughter was associated with four Persian-american high school boys, also missing. It doesn't seem like an especially difficult case, although the arrival of an FBI agent gives Liffey a hint that things are going to get difficult.

    Liffey's investigation takes him from Los Angeles to Mexican border towns, involves Arabic terrorists, terrorizing Mexican drug dealers, and layers of government corruption, lies, and secrets. As always, Liffey finds a portion of what he is looking for--and a lot more. Persian-American student Fariborz Bayat plays a major role in helping Liffey and, through Liffey, gains a deeper understanding of his humanity, his relationship with Islam, and his moral senses.

    Author John Shannon (see more reviews of novels by Shannon) has created a powerful and complex character in Jack Liffey. His love for his daughter, philosophical approach to the world, anguish over his erratic sexual performance, and tough moral code make him both admirable and approachable. As a reader, I'm not sure I would like Liffey, but I am sure I would want to have him on my side.

    Shannon knows that moral questions can be tough, that an assurance of righteousness is often the mask of evil, and that goodness exists outside of the arbitrary whim of a God--but he conveys his message through story rather than through artifice. CITY OF STRANGERS is a powerful and emotionally moving story. I highly recommend it.

    Four Stars

    Reviewed 11/17/03

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