I missed Anderson's first installment in this trilogy and will have to go back and pick up The Never- Open Desert Diner at some point, but that did not impede my enjoyment of Lullaby Road. While I realized I had missed a great deal of backstory covered in the first book, Lullaby Road and the episodic adventures of trucker Ben Jones--half Indian, half Jew, raised in foster homes, and inclined to trouble--was engrossing.
Most of Ben's customers in Utah's high desert are a breed apart. Eccentric, independent, unorthodox, outcasts--from Cowboy Roy to Preacher John and more--the "desert rats" that Ben supplies with everything from water to propane are human curiosities.
Ben is basically a decent man who gets involved in situations even as he chastises himself for doing so. Already saddled with taking his neighbor's infant with him on a run, when he stops to fill up his truck, the owner says someone has left a package for him at one of the pumps. What he finds is a five-year-old child with a note saying that the father is in bad trouble, but trusts Ben to care for his son Juan. The owner of the station has locked up and won't respond to Ben who demands some answers. Now he has an infant, a young child who doesn't speak, and a dog on his journey.
This novel is not a straight-forward narrative, it moves from one location and event to another--each populated by oddball characters. The journey becomes dangerous for several reasons as Ben does his best to deliver infant and child to safety. A picaresque novel that has some humor and some grim situations and as many stories as Ben has customers.
The conclusion doesn't answer all the questions, and there is one question that will stay on my mind until the third installment. The answer better be there!
Mystery? Jan. 16, 2018. Print length: 320 pages
Dark Pines is as atmospheric as Lullaby Road, but instead of the bleak expansiveness of the desert, the setting is the looming menace of the forest of Utgard near the small town of Gavrik, Sweden. Both novels have a full contingent of odd characters.
Tuva Moodyson, a deaf reporter, has returned to Sweden, leaving a more promising arena in London to be closer to her terminally ill mother.
This must be the year of deaf protagonists for me, and Tuva has some similarities to Caleb Zelic (Resurrection Bay, And Fire Came Down by Emma Viskic). Both lost their hearing very young as a result of meningitis, both are determined to pursue the career each has chosen, and both are irritated when people comment that they "sound so normal."
Tuva, however, is unapologetic about drawing attention to the fact that she doesn't hear well even with her hearing aids and needs to record statements to be certain she hasn't missed anything. She also takes pleasure in the silence when she removes her hearing aids. Tuva exhibits none of Caleb's desire to hide his deafness; she accepts her lack of hearing and is comfortable with it.
When a hunter is killed, the entire town of Gavrik develops an inexorable fear that there will be a recurrence of the Medusa murders that took place in the 90's. For Tuva, the story may mean a huge step in her career as an investigative journalist. When a second hunter is murdered, the connection to the Medusa murders is affirmed by the trophies taken.
A determined and resolute protagonist, Tuva needs to overcome her fear of the malevolent atmosphere of Utgard Forest and the increasing animosity of Gavrik's citizens to pursue her story.
A fine debut by Will Dean and a new and intriguing character in Tuva Moodyson.
Mystery/Suspense. Jan. 4, 2018. Print length: 400 pages.