RARA-AVIS: Re: John Shannon, some Robert Crais, and a little BSP

From: Kevin Burton Smith ( kvnsmith@colba.net)
Date: 18 May 2000

One of the Pauls wrote:

>Although on the surface Jack Liffey seems reminiscent of Block's Matt
>Scudder; an honourable, unlicenced, middle-aged, divorced, recovering
>alcoholic P.I., it's the sense of absurdity and the bizarre that intrigues
>in this book. You never know what'll happen next, whether it's a backhoe
>tumbling from a hillside into the roof of someone's garage or meeting a
>circus dwarf and a living skeleton in a bar.

Scudder? I see him more as more like Stephen Greenleaf's Marsh Tanner, with that whole middle-age, male menopause depression/cynicism thing going on. But Tanner is settled, almost inert at times, whereas Liffey always seems curiously adrift. And the continual bizarro events like those you mentioned, or the staged-by-Fellini traffic accidents, add a real touch of surrealism to everything. Sort of Chandler-meets-Dali. The sensibility of these books is hard to describe, at times, but it just feels right and unique.

>I've already decided to order THE CRACKED EARTH, Shannon's second Jack
>Liffey book.

There's a new one that just came out, the third, THE POISON SKY. His publisher marked the occasion by dumping Shannon.

The good news, though, is that there are at least three more in the series, and Shannon is shopping them around.

And Doug wrote:

>Anyhow, since then I occasionally scribble down
>authors that various listmembers recommend, and with
>the exception of the lackluster Robert Crais I haven't
>really been disappointed.

Lackluster? Hmmm...I haven't heard that one before. Have you tried L.A. REQUIEM? I really liked that one. If you were put off by the earlier books, and their Spenserian similarities (even Crais admits it), you might try that one. He essentially bulldozes most of the series to start building it up again.

My interview with Crais, and my review of his latest, DEMOLITION ANGEL, a stand-alone about a former LAPD bomb tech, are now online at http://www.januarymagazine.com.

Kevin Burton Smith The Thrilling Detective Web Site http://www.colba.net/~kvnsmith/thrillingdetective/

An A&E Mystery.com Site of the Week, but don't let that discourage you.

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