By Lynn Willoughby
Lullaby Road ~ James Anderson
I really liked Anderson’s first book, “The Never-Open Desert Diner” so was looking forward to reading this one. It did not disappoint. There were many references to the characters and locale of the first book, so it is best to read them in sequence.
The high desert of Utah plays a huge part in this novel. The protagonist is the same as the first – Ben Jones, a trucker who drives the solitary highways, loves the desert and understands the eccentrics, the fugitives and the whackos who chose to live there.
This author has a way of building suspense that I find rare. I find myself trying to write the ending while I am doing chores and errands. I can’t wait to return to the book and yet hate to see it finished. While the story seems somewhat mundane ad there are a lot of descriptions of sunsets, loading freight, driving the same route five days a week, it is the characters, and I do mean CHARACTERS, who are unique and unforgettable.
Ben finds a mute, Hispanic child while fueling his truck. The note pinned to the child’s shirt says; “Please Ben. Watch my son. His name is Juan. Bad Trouble. ell no one!” Oh yes, and there is a very protective dog with the child.
Living next door to Ben is a seventeen year old single mother and her baby. Ginny’s many piercings rattle Ben, but he genuinely cares for Ginny and Belle.
John is still carrying his solid oak cross up and down the highway, eight year old Walt is still fixing motorcycles and Ben is feeling he has too much responsibility for all these souls. Add to that cast of characters, the father and son bank robbers who live in abandoned railway cars in the desert where there is no railway, and John’s efforts on their behalf. Then there is the reclusive doctor who is horribly maimed and disfigured from years of torture – these are a few of the people we meet. Are you intrigued yet?
Anderson’s prose is lyrical and the dialogue rings true – “You can beat the brains out of someone but it is almost impossible to beat any brains in.”
I really hope James Anderson continues writing as there are still many questions I want answered. This rogues gallery of bizarre characters doesn’t get old!
- The Never-Open Desert Diner