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    THE ORANGE CURTAIN by Joyhn Shannon


    Carroll & Graf, 2001

    Jack Liffey finds missing children so there is nothing especially unusual about a job from a man from Viet Nam looking for his daughter. As Liffey begins to investigate, however, he uncovers more than he'd ever wanted to know about how Orange County works, the position of the Vietnamese immigrants in California, and a strange young man with a hard time relating to the rest of the world.

    Orange County, separated from its neighbor Los Angeles by history, by its conservative traditions, and by its post-urban geography, protects its secrets by the Orange Curtain of the title. Liffey, a Los Angeleno, feels out of place here. Yet it is precisely his 'stranger in a strange land' attributes that allow him to deal with both Vietnamese gangs and with insane Billy Gudger.

    Author John Shannon (see other reviews of novels by this author) writes a compelling story. It's climax blends skillfully psychological with physical challenges, making Liffey risk his own life, that of a woman he cares for, his honor, and his self-image. Shannon's minor characters, such as Liffey's daughter Maeve, are skillfully characterized even in the short time they have in the reader's eye.

    THE ORANGE CURTAIN is a fast read with enough adventure to savor, an insightful look into a society in the midst of transformation, and with two interesting characters each struggling for connection to the rest of the world.

    Four Stars

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