Saturday, January 27, 2018 - February 2, 2018
James Anderson delivers unconventional mystery in new novel
Oline H. Cogdill
The road stretches
long — and hard — in a remote area of Utah that trucker Ben Jones has
been traveling nearly 20 years. It’s not exactly a Jack Kerouac road
trip as this bleak stretch of road known as Route 117 is filled with
treacherous curves, unpredictable weather and people more eccentric and
peculiar than any beat poet imagined.
As he did in his
2015 debut, “The Never-Open Desert Diner,” James Anderson delivers an
unconventional mystery melding near lyrical prose with a strong sense of
atmosphere and an affinity for oddball characters — even the most
outlandish are believable. A sense of the menacing hangs over the plot
of “Lullaby Road,” and when violence erupts, it’s expected, yet still
works well as a story about isolation, loss, parenting and predators.
In this story, Ben
is putting diesel in his rig when the manager of the Stop ‘n’ Gone Truck
Stop tells him that something has been left for him at the eighth fuel
island. The “something” turns out to be a child about 5 or 6 years old
with a note pleading for Ben to take the youngster named Juan because of
The child is
accompanied by a large protective white dog. Ben has no intention of
taking the child, and especially not the dog. But the weather has
turned frigid and the seedy truck stop manager isn’t an option. His
next-door neighbor further complicates his passenger list by insisting
that he take her infant daughter along; her baby sitter is sick and the
new mother has to be at her job at Walmart.
So begins Ben’s
most unusual trek, making his deliveries of water, food, mail and
supplies to far-flung homes of those who relish the remoteness. Along
the way, Ben comes across his friends, preacher John who drags a
life-size crucifix along the highway, a state trooper who’s on duty only
if he wears his hat and an ex-coal miner who survives with odd jobs.
But danger rears up as Ben dodges a speeding semi that almost crashes
into him and as he eludes people with guns. The child and the dog hold
the key to painful secrets.
evocatively illustrates the beauty and harshness of Utah’s high desert
while also delving deep into the characters and their motives for living
where they do. The product of foster homes, the flawed and fascinating
Ben just tries to get by each day, doing the right thing, while
relishing the terrain’s vastness, “drawn toward it, into it, like it was
some crazy lover forever promising passion and never love.” (AP)
Update January 20, 2018 - January 26, 2018
‘Operator Down’ is page-turning thriller
“Operator Down,” Brad Taylor’s
latest in his best-selling Pike Logan series, showcases a few of the
best supporting characters in another tale that feels like it’s just
ahead of tomorrow’s headlines.
Taylor worked in Special Forces,
and previous novels featuring Logan and his counterterrorism unit known
as The Taskforce have always felt authentic. In “Operator Down,” the
author showcases the invisible world of the diamond industry. Aaron
Bergman and his partner, Shoshana, work for Mossad and once in a while
they find themselves working with Logan and his team. Since the mission
seems somewhat straightforward, Aaron accepts the assignment without
With it being officially
unsanctioned by his government, Aaron also doesn’t want to get her
involved unless it’s absolutely necessary. He takes another woman with
him instead, making Shoshana jealous, but the woman has keen knowledge
he can use. She knows the diamond market, and the case involves
following someone in the Israeli Diamond Exchange who might attempt to
discredit the government.
What is actually going on is much
worse when it’s revealed that an American arms dealer is trying to
purchase components that could be used to piece together a successful
Logan and his team at first find a
reluctant Shoshana who doesn’t want their help, but after an attempt on
her life, she finds herself working with The Taskforce again to rescue
Aaron and save the day, though her ruthlessness and skills might be more
a hindrance than helpful.
Taylor is one of today’s premiere
authors writing about the world of special ops and the characters of the
team have become familiar and comfortable to long-time fans. Newcomers
shouldn’t be deterred since Taylor knows how to quickly immerse readers
in his world. (AP)
Update January 13, 2018 - January 19, 2018
Dave Robicheaux returns
in new novel by James Lee Burke
James Lee Burke’s
iconic deputy from Louisiana, Dave Robicheaux, must face the past that
haunts him while pursuing a murder case that hits too close to home in
hasn’t gotten over the death of his wife, Molly. She was killed in a
traffic accident, and he wants answers. He even confronts the driver
who rammed into her vehicle, but he swears he was driving the speed
limit and she pulled out in front of him and he didn’t have time to
stop. A couple of his friends ask for personal favors, and when he
begrudgingly obliges, it ends up being problematic when one of them is
accused of a sexual assault.
While trying to
learn the truth about what happened that evening, Robicheaux also
struggles with staying sober, and it seems that every time he tries to
interview a potential witness or just wants to get away for a while, the
urge to drink isn’t far behind. When he finally decides to indulge, he
wakes up with no memory of what transpired earlier. Except the man
responsible for killing Molly has been found beaten to death, and the
last man to see him was Robicheaux. It would be against his nature to
murder someone for revenge, but since he can’t remember, he is secretly
terrified that he’s responsible.
The ending is a bit
jumbled with who did what to whom with an ever-increasing body count,
and even Robicheaux himself is in a bit of a quandary about the entire
adventure. In the scheme of things, it doesn’t matter. The poetic
writing and depth of the major characters balances out everything.
Reading one of
Burke’s novels is truly an immersive experience, with every ache and
anguish feeling gut-wrenchingly real. It has been almost five years
since the last Dave Robicheaux novel, and it was absolutely worth the
Update Saturday, Jan. 6 - Jan. 12, 2018
Robert Crais’ ‘The Wanted’
is rewarding page-turner
Devon Connor is beside herself with
worry. Her teenage son, Tyson, keeps showing up with things that neither of
them could possibly afford: New clothes from Barney’s. High-end
electronics. What appears to be a genuine Rolex. And his explanations are
Fearing that he might be dealing drugs,
she hires private detective Elvis Cole to look into it. It doesn’t take
Cole long to discover that the situation is much worse. Tyson is part of a
three-person teenage gang that’s been breaking into homes in rich
neighborhoods around Los Angeles.
So begins “The Wanted,” the latest in
Robert Crais’ series of cleverly plotted, stylishly written private-eye
novels featuring Cole and his fearsome, taciturn partner Joe Pike.
When Tyson and his friends go on the
run, Cole finds himself in a riveting race against time. The police, of
course, are seeking the gang, too. But so are two quirky, highly
resourceful thugs who prove to be the most interesting characters in the
tale. The teens, it seems, have unknowingly stolen a laptop containing a
powerful criminal’s darkest secret, and the thugs will stop at nothing to
track it down.
As the bodies pile up, and the yarn
approaches its climax, the reader begins to wonder if Cole and Pike may
finally have met their match.
Carl Riggins, a rude, fat, friendless
geek with bad skin who grudgingly helps Cole with his case, is the book’s
lone false note-— a character who conforms to every tired stereotype of a
teenage computer hacker.
But this is a quibble, because the end
result is another rewarding page-turner by one of the most reliable
storytellers in modern crime fiction. (AP).