The Devils of Bakersfield: A Jack Liffey Mystery (Jack Liffey Mysteries)

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9781605980362: The Devils of Bakersfield: A Jack Liffey Mystery (Jack Liffey Mysteries)

The seemingly sleepy oil town of Bakersfield has a long and grim history of hostility towards outsiders, be it the “Okies” during the Depression, African-Americans, or labor organizes. When Jack Liffey and his daughter Maeve end up in Bakersfield as a respite from their life in Los Angeles, they find that the town has cast its paranoid fears on a group of rebellious teenaged girls alleged to be Satanists. As hysteria mounts, there is a mammoth book burning and a police raid on all people they deem unsympathetic to their evangelical cause. In the chaos, Maeve disappears and Jack is racing against the clock to find her and save the girls from the town’s “exorcism.”

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About the Author:

John Shannon is one of America’s leading writers of neo-noir. His Jack Liffey series of novels is one of the most critically praised mystery series in the genre and includes Terminal Island, Dangerous Games, The Dark Streets, The Devils of Bakersfield, and Palos Verdes Blue. Shannon lives in Los Angeles.

From Booklist:

*Starred Review* In the tenth installment of Shannon’s excellent Jack Liffey series, chance brings the ruminative PI and his headstrong daughter, Maeve, from L.A. to Bakersfield—and into a conflagration of anti-Satanist hysteria. The pregnant Maeve is incarcerated with other suspect teens, and Jack, his cop girlfriend, Gloria Ramirez, and a handful of colorful locals fight like hell to free her and restore the rule of law. While Liffey is constantly fine-tuning his moral compass, the bad guys he faces are usually zealots—like the megachurch pastor in this book—and the conflict is less black and white than black and gray. Here, Jack and Maeve’s intuitive morality meets unrelenting evangelical fervor, and the fight takes place in a literal fog. Interspersed throughout the story are historical artifacts, real and reimagined, that paint a portrait of the Central Valley city as having a long history of isolationism, intolerance, and inhospitality. This book won’t be loved by the local chamber of commerce, but its message is universal. And if the idea of religious hysteria overwhelming government, even momentarily, seems far-fetched to some readers, both history and current events provide plenty of precedents. Another winner from a writer whose own moral compass is holding steady. --Keir Graff

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