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    Review of TERMINAL ISLAND by John Shannon (see his website)


    Carroll & Graf, March 2004

    Jack Liffey is recouperating from a collapsed lung when an old friend--from his elementary school days--calls for a favor. Police Lieutenant Ken Steelyard has a problem. Someone is has grabbed a San Pedro youth, planted an explosive, and damaged the train set that is Steelyard's life. Since Liffey investigates missing children, maybe he can help. Against the advice of his doctor and girlfriend, Liffey accepts--and launches himself into a strange world where the clues are carefully scripted Japanese playing cards--with the kanji characters for 'no, no' stamped on them.

    As Steelyard and Liffey investigate, the clues point back to the horrible days of World War II when Japanese-Americans were rounded up, sent to internment camps, and lost all of their possessions. Terminal Island, the small island that makes up a part of the port of Los Angeles/Long Beach, was once home to a thriving Japanese fishing community. Could someone be revenging himself for this long-ago dishonor? It hardly seems possible that an survivor of these American concentration camps could be terrorising modern Los Angeles, but there is definitely a connection.

    Author John Shannon (see more reviews of books by Shannon) shines his powerful spotlight into San Pedro and Terminal Island--parts of Los Angeles that retain a part of their history despite the radical changes that Los Angeles imposes on itself regularly--and into the long-denied reality of American fear and injustice. Jack Liffey makes a wonderful hero--a man who cares, who wants to do what is right in a morally ambiguous world, and a man who struggles to make the world better for his daughter and her friends.

    TERMINAL ISLAND is a powerfully moving story--with plenty of fast-paced action, thoughtful examination of the way the world works, and an ultimately positive message. I admit that coming from the San Pedro area made me suspicious at first--but Shannon won me over completely. I strongly recommend this book--even if you're not an Angeleno.

    Four Stars

    Reviewed 8/26/04

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