LUCAS WEBB – Eli’s Road. Doubleday, hardcover, 1971. Popular Library, paperback, no date stated.

   I recently went back to a used book store to buy the copy of Green Ice they’ve had there for years, and got distracted once again. This time by a novel called Eli’s Road,  by Lucas Webb.

   Considering the quality of this thing, I’m surprised Webb and his novel aren’t better-known. It starts off a bit awkward, but soon gets the reader involved in a first person narrative spanning ante-bellum Kansas to 1880s Wyoming.

   Webb does a remarkable job of keeping his narrator believable from the time he writes as a callow teen-ager till he ends up in stoic middle-age, quite a feat of style, and the story: Bloody Kansas, rogue mountain men, orphan girls, pro-slavers, store-keepers, abolitionists, border ruffians, emigrants, freed slaves… and the mysterious Brother Frank.

   Seek it out.

— Reprinted from The Hound of Dr. Johnson #34, September 2004.