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Lullaby Road

(Ben Jones #2)

3.86  ·  Rating details ·  1,006 ratings  ·  283 reviews
Ben Jones, protagonist of the glowingly reviewed Never-Open Desert Diner, returns in a devastatingly powerful literary crime novel about parenthood, loss, and the desert in winter.

Winter has come to Highway 117, a remote road through the Utah desert trafficked only by oddballs, fugitives, and those looking to escape the world. So when local truck driver Ben Jones finds an
Hardcover, 304 pages
Published January 16th 2018 by Crown
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Amy Messing I was also confused. I remembered Ana, but how did the child escape from the killer? And survive the bullet? And if she had been rescued by the group …moreI was also confused. I remembered Ana, but how did the child escape from the killer? And survive the bullet? And if she had been rescued by the group of ladies who ran the food truck, way was the poster put up?(less)
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Larry H
Feb 17, 2018 rated it really liked it
Shelves: netgalley
I'm between 4 and 4.5 stars.

Some books seem tailor-made for sequels. While you're reading them you get the sense that there's so much more to the story, and in some cases, the author leaves you hanging. But some books seem complete when you've finished them, and although you enjoyed spending time with the characters and found the story compelling, you'd never expect a sequel. (Of course, there are other times you dislike a book you couldn't imagine reading a follow-up, but that's another story.)
Melissa ♥ Dog/Wolf Lover ♥ Martin
When I saw this was a sequel to The Never-Open Desert Diner I quickly grabbed it up. And while it wasn't the 5 star review the first book was for me, I still loved it and revisiting some old friends.

A momentary silence was all that marked the passing of summer into winter. After living most of my almost forty years in the high desert of Utah, twenty driving a truck, I had come to the conclusion there were really only two seasons: hot and windy and cold and windy. Everything else was just a v
Jan 24, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: my-favorites
In “Lullaby Road,” Ben Jones is still making deliveries to the inhabitants of an isolated stretch of Utah desert. The people there all seem to be hiding out from something or someone, but they are Ben’s life and livelihood and they are equally dependent on him. The story begins with Ben stopping to buy fuel before beginning his route and finding a young child wearing a note asking Ben to take care of her, and Ben being Ben, can’t refuse. As Ben tries to learn the little girl’s story and find her ...more
Justin Tate
Jun 08, 2018 rated it it was ok
The Never-Open Desert Diner wasn’t an incredible book, but it was good enough for me to be excited about this sequel. I loved Ben and his long stretch of highway. The characters and setting were ripe for a continuation, perhaps many, many further adventures.

Unfortunately Lullaby Road didn’t work for me. About a third of the way through I realized I had absolutely no idea what was going on. Characters blended together, unanswered questions lingered on too long, so that I forgot I cared. The seque
May 23, 2017 rated it really liked it
Shelves: publisher, reviewed
You really need to read the author's first book, "The Never-Open Desert Diner", before reading "Lullaby Road" because there are a lot of references to things that happened in the first book and I think that it would be frustrating not to know what all those references mean. Frankly, I wasn't crazy about the first book, which couldn't decide whether it was literary fiction (with a few mysterious undertones) or a thriller. It didn't do either particularly well, the beginning was like watching pain ...more
♥ Sandi ❣
3.75 stars Thank you to First to Read books and Crown Publishing for this ARC. Expected publication Jan 16, 2018.

I again sit in judgement of Ben Jones' life. He is the truck driver from the novel The Never-Open Desert Diner. He is still in Price Utah, running his tractor trailer delivery service on Rt 117 to a group of misfits and miscreants, still befriending and protecting Ginny and her daughter Annabelle.

In this novel Ben gets involved with a child smuggling ring, one of his ex's and her new
Nov 25, 2017 rated it really liked it
Out in the high Utah desert there's not a whole hell of a lot of anything - mainly there's one road, highway 117, and miles and miles of sparsely populated brush and canyons. It's not country for normal folk, but it's sort of the edge of the known universe where various oddballs and eccentrics and hermits have decided that they are done moving and planted themselves, jealously guarding their acres of broken down trailers and rotting car parts with shotguns or walking the mountain roads carrying ...more
Karen R
Jan 29, 2018 rated it really liked it
A good follow-up to Anderson’s The Never Open Dessert Diner and Ben Jones hard-working life as a delivery service trucker making stops 5 days a week for the past 20 years along a dusty isolated desert road. This time, he takes to the road in wintertime when the road is treacherous and with a couple of children plus a dog along for the ride.

The story is meandering, laced with humor, surprises and solid characters. Old favorites from the Diner reappear and new ones come into the mix, like the myst
Mar 31, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Superior sequel to the author's first novel featuring truck driver Ben Jones, The Never-Open Desert Diner .

For 20-30 pages I felt like putting this book down. I'd just come off of Ken Bruen's In the Galway Silence and there's hardly anything written in the new century that can rival a Ken Bruen novel.

Somewhere around page 30-35 something clicked and this book had me hooked tighter than two-dogs caught ....forgive me my trespasses.

This book has the same ambling, reader-friendly cadence as the fir
Jan 30, 2018 rated it really liked it
Title: Lullaby Road: A Novel
Author: James Anderson
Publisher: Crown
Series: Ben Jones # 2
Reviewed By: Arlena Dean
Rating: Four

"Lullaby Road" by James Anderson

My Thoughts...

Now, this was quite a interesting read about Ben Jones who runs a tractor trailer delivery service [truck driver] that traveled on Highway 117 that was a desolate Utah desert making deliveries to people in isolated areas. Ben was known to deliver packages to 'desert rats, hardscrabble ranchers and other assorted exiles wh
Jul 05, 2017 rated it really liked it
Shelves: netgalley
Thank you to NetGalley and the publisher for allowing me to read and review this wonderfully written novel by James Anderson. "Lullaby Road" really captures that feeling of long road trips through middle of nowhere America. The eccentricities of small town life are there n spades. Each character is revealed through their relationship with Ben, our protagonist and truck driver who knows the lonely stretches of desert far too well. He is handed over a few mysteries and other hurdles to deal with, ...more
Feb 18, 2018 rated it really liked it
4,5 stars
I enjoyed this novel more than I had anticipated. As Ben traveled along the desert highway in his big rig, I met some of the interesting individuals he regularly encounters as he makes his deliveries. Ben has been driving the desert for around twenty years, and although the scenery hardly ever changes the individuals, the weather, and the drama that makes up are hardly ever the same.

As Ben fills up his truck to begin his day, he finds that someone has left something for him at the pump
Jun 21, 2017 rated it really liked it
Shelves: netgalley
It was an ordinary night for Ben at his usual truck stop until he finds something left behind on Island 8. A pile of clothes. A dog guarding a small mute child. Pinned to the child is a note begging Ben personally to look after this child in the midst of a father’s strife. ”Bad trouble…Tell no one.” Reluctantly he places the child in the cab of his truck along with the dog and drives off onto his usual Route 117… into the unforeseen dangers of the Utah desert.

Lullaby Road is a clever and intrigu
R J Mckay
Feb 25, 2018 rated it it was amazing
I received this book from Goodreads for an honest review.
Ben Jones is a unique anti-hero. He reminds me somewhat of the Indiana Jones of truck drivers. He just keeps sticking his nose into things that most of us would leave alone. By doing so, he has acquired both admirers and enemies. His story revolves around the small towns and quirky people on Route 117 in Utah.
I loved the story-telling style that James Anderson uses. It sounds like you’re sitting in the diner or beside him in the truck. It’
Patricia Doyle
Jul 13, 2017 rated it really liked it
There was so much I enjoyed about this book – the eccentric cast of characters, the convincing descriptions of the desert and a desert winter, Ben’s insight, Ben’s own life, the easy writing style, the story itself, and the very clever humor – wry and sardonic at times – throughout.

Many situations occur, each interesting, each with no eye-rolling from me. The ending was terrific, nothing contrived, nothing hard to believe.

There was a little bit of a mystery throughout, but I wouldn’t exactly ca
Jan 21, 2018 rated it really liked it
Shelves: first-to-read
Thanks to First to Read for the ARC in exchange for an honest review. Lullaby Road was a great follow-up to The Never-Open Desert Diner by James Anderson. The story follows Ben Jones, an independent truck driver that delivers to customers out in the desert, and has a lot of the same characters from the first book. Ben is filling up his gas at a truck stop when Cecil, the owner, says something was left outside for him in the cold. He finds a young Hispanic child with a note on their shirt and a d ...more
Aug 10, 2018 rated it liked it
This probably wins the award for the most "disappointing after intense anticipation" read so far of 2018.

I just loved his first novel. This sequel is at the most a 2.5 star read that I rounded up for the desert highway. That locale with all the ominous pitfalls it holds for a trucker is done well.

Everything else I can think of, not so much.

All of my continued characters from the early "Diner" book? Well, each and every one seems like a cartoon character now.

I kept reading only because I had to
Unfortunately, I did not read the first book by James Anderson (The Never Open Desert Diner) which introduced the characters and gave background carried on in this novel, but I enjoyed Lullaby Road nonetheless.

I am quite taken with Anderson's ability to paint pictures with his words. He superbly describes the starkness of the Utah desert in winter, to the point that I could feel the wind and cold as I sat nestled before a fire. And his characters are equally well-drawn and relatable.

Ben Jones,
Barbara Senteney
Jan 10, 2018 rated it it was amazing
This story was truly thrilling. I loved it, took my time reading it, because I wanted to absorb it.
Ben is a truck driver who recently lost the woman he loved. One early morning on his usual stop to fuel up for the days deliveries in the desert, he is told by the owner that his mechanic Pedro had left something for him in front of one of the fuel pumps. Ben is befuddled by this , since he barely knows the man, asking the owner what it is? The owner smugly with a smile answers, you'll find out, ju
May 14, 2018 rated it it was amazing
The basic premise of this book – the adventures of a truck driver in the Utah desert - is not one that I would normally find all that interesting or enjoyable. I won my copy in a giveaway a few months back and I’ve been putting it off because I read the back cover when I received it and questioned myself as to why I had entered a giveaway for this book at all. As it turns out, I’m very glad I finally took the time to read it and wish I had read sooner.

This is a slow paced story but the author’s
Dec 03, 2017 rated it liked it
I felt immediately attracted to this book, because of the title, the cover, and the description, and I turned out to love it even more than I had expected. I'm not a big fan of thrillers or mysteries, but this is both and neither, and in addition, there are vivid characters and really beautiful yet simple prose that transcends genre literature. The novel has tiny chapters, and I read a few at a time, and it was always such a comfort to return to the lull of the road, and Ben's narration. I didn' ...more
Mar 16, 2019 rated it really liked it
Shelves: mystery
Ben Jones is still in the Utah desert driving his truck. What makes you, dear reader, think that we deserve yet another glimpse into his quotidian life? Well, James Anderson once more weaves his magic upon us and in the process we loose some familiar characters from the first book.

We start with an abandoned child and dog at the gas station, soon to be joined by his teenage friend’s baby. How’s a man supposed to make deliveries with a daycare center in his cab? And the weather is terrible too. T
Sep 15, 2018 rated it really liked it
I did enjoy revisiting Hwy 171. Some of the magic I felt in the first book is missing, but only some. Still populated with rich characters and scenery, but Ben is a colder man than first time around. I'll read more if he'll write them. ...more
Tonstant Weader
Jan 28, 2018 rated it really liked it
Lullaby Road reunites us with Ben Jones, the lonesome truck driver we met in James Anderson’s The Never-Open Desert Diner. He’s still driving that lonely hundred mile stretch of Utah highway for nowhere to nothing, making deliveries to people who don’t like answering questions or asking them either. Winter has landed with its snow, fog, ice and generally scary road conditions, but Ben is heading out on that highway to deliver what people need.

Except someone left him something or, more accurately
Darcia Helle
Boo me if you must. I didn't love this book.

To start, there are a whole lot of vague references to an event that I assume happened in book 1, 'The Never-Open Diner'. When I got this book, I didn't know it was a sequel. That was nowhere in the description. I didn't read the first book. And, rather than the author clarifying these references with an extra sentence or two, he's deliberately ambiguous. So, rather than intrigued, I found myself irritated. Don't make the same mistake I did. This is ab
Kasa Cotugno
Before writing this, I reread my review of Anderson's first book featuring Ben Jones, The Never Open Desert Diner, and feel I could cut-and-paste that entire review here only changing details that pertain to Lullaby Road. Four months have passed since the earlier novel concluded, and Ben still plies Route 117 delivering essentials (even water in some cases) to the sparse population, covering round-trip 100 miles in each direction. But on his first leg of today's trip he has company. A small chil ...more
Geoff. Lamb
Apr 11, 2018 rated it it was amazing
If ever an author has enticed a reader to go walkabout it is James Anderson writing about Highway 117, a seldom used, off-the-beaten track road to not much of anywhere southeast of Price, Utah, which is itself SE of Salt Lake City. The 100+ miles of Highway 117 does not exist on any map outside of the author's imagination.

If you have never read Anderson's first novel, "Never-Open Desert Diner", please do. Ben Jones, the central character of Diner (as he is in Lullaby) is someone you will remem
Ben Jones spends his work week traveling up and down highway 117, delivering water, propane and other necessities for those reclusive individuals who inhabit Utah's north eastern desert. Ben stops for fuel one morning to discover a 5 year old child has been left out by the gas pumps, in the brutal cold, with a note asking Ben to watch over the child. And so begins Lullaby Road, and the nightmarish few days where nothing will go well for Ben Jones. Atmospheric and populated with a unique cast of ...more
Oct 24, 2018 rated it liked it
I really enjoyed The Never Open Desert Diner. You could say it was a surprise hit with me. The best kind of surprises. Thus I could not wait to check out this newest book from Mr. Anderson. First off, let me tell you that this book is kind of a follow up to the Never Open Desert Diner. I didn't put the connection together right away from the summary or the first couple of chapters. Once, I did, I was happy to see Ben again. So, if you have not read the prior novel, you must get a little lost rea ...more
Nov 05, 2017 rated it really liked it
Ben Jones is a delivery driver along a stretch of desert highway in Utah. Like many of his customers, Jones is a taciturn man with a past full of fighting and drinking. Although he has given up the second, the first never seems far away. He is also a man who likes his own company, a good thing since most of his customers prefer theirs. A nod is enough conversation for most. Every morning, he stops at the Stop ‘n’ Gone Truck Stop outside Price to gas up. This morning, however, he is told Pedro, a ...more
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James Anderson was born in Seattle, Washington and raised in Oregon and the Pacific Northwest. He received his undergraduate degree in American Studies from Reed College in Portland, Oregon, and his Masters Degree in Creative Writing from Pine Manor College in Boston Massachusetts.

Undergraduate thesis: Word-man/Poet: The Poetry and Poetics of Lew Welch
Masters thesis: The Never-Entered Kingdom: Bey

Other books in the series

Ben Jones (2 books)
  • The Never-Open Desert Diner (Ben Jones, #1)

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