Three orphans with nothing to lose embark on a road trip that reaches epic proportions.
Initially, readers find Jack grappling with the loss of his parents, who have succumbed to the ravages of the Dust Bowl. Lansdale quickly shifts to a light, folksy tone as Jack meets up with Jane and her younger brother, Tony. Jane wants to “look around first, learn a little about life” before becoming a journalist. So why not set out on a real quest? Together they steal a car from a dead man but are soon kidnapped by bank-robbing gangsters. After overhearing the men’s intention to kill an accomplice named Strangler, Jane convinces the boys that warning him would be the noble thing to do. Jack and Tony go along on the strength of Jane’s prowess as a storyteller—or liar, as some would have it. This “Jack tale” is really Jane’s story; Jack is little more than the chronicler of an episodic adventure that stretches credulity as the trio heads across East Texas. Jane’s stories get them in and out of jams as they ride the rails with hoboes, are befriended by the likes of Pretty Boy Floyd and are hoodwinked into forced labor by a corrupt sheriff, before reaching a carnival, where the action culminates in a scene of comic violence.A solid yarn with just a hint of romance. (Fiction. 11-14)