Friday, 2 March 2018

Lullaby Road - James Anderson

Route 117 is a remote, lonely road that runs through the desert of Utah. When winter arrives, the road can become treacherous. Ben Jones, delivery driver, knows too well how the road is unforgiving.

Delivering what the people need – water, horse feed, food – Ben meets an eclectic number of characters. Some, he has more of a history with than others. Including Walt, owner of the ‘never open diner’ and father to the woman Ben loved and who was murdered. Still battling the loss, and the heartache, he continues his deliveries ‘serving as the region’s sole lifeline to the outside world’.

When Cecil, owner of a seedy truck stop informs him of a package left for him, Ben is astounded to find a small child and a dog with a note attached from Pedro, a man who worked at the tire shop. A note which ominously asks the truck driver to look after Juan and to ‘tell no-one’.  With the cold temperatures, there’s no way Ben can leave a defenseless child. Reluctantly he takes his new ward – and the dog – with him.

Then his next-door neighbor, Ginny, suddenly appears at the stop. She’s desperate. Working and studying, plus a million other things she does, including being a mother to Annabelle, she needs help. Can Ben look after her sweet baby whilst she goes to class? Ben can’t seem to say no. Ginny’s mother is a no-good woman and Ben’s affection for Ginny is founded on the young girls amazing fortitude despite a mother that isn’t around for her.

Along his route, he bumps in to Preacher John. A man who carries a very large, very heavy cross along the route. One day, a vehicle won’t see him and he’ll be mown down. And, yet it hasn’t happened. Ben and John share an imaginary cigarette every now and then. Ben likes John. So, when he gets knocked over and is suffering with severe injuries, Ben makes the arduous journey to Price to get much needed medical supplies, until Life Flight can get to John. And then Ben finds out that someone has cancelled the helicopter.

In a complicated six degrees of separation, the residents of Rockmuse, Price and Route 117 are intertwined and Ben is seemingly caught up in their stories. With little choice but to take his precious cargo along the way, he finds himself slowly unravelling the reason why Pedro left his child with him, the reason for John’s accident all the while keeping his truck moving along the highway, where drivers he meets succumb to stupidity and the weather.

A slow-moving narrative that is packed with details. The characters are all very well developed and the plot is very intriguing. Told from the viewpoint of Ben, it’s an insiders view to life on the road. Whilst I enjoyed it, I felt that I should have read the previous authors novel, The Never-Open Desert Diner to get a better understanding of his relationship with Walt and Claire, his murdered daughter. Overall, it is a very well plotted and well written novel.

I received a complimentary copy of this book from Blogging for Books as part of their review program. The opinions expressed are my own and I am not required to give a positive critique.

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