Tuesday, June 7, 2016

The Never-Open Desert Diner by James Anderson

I must have been in just the right mind-frame to read this book. Once I finished it, I thought "I don't typically read this kind of novel but it was really good. Until the end."

This is the first novel by James Anderson and it has a film noir quality to it. It's one of those things where it feels slightly off. (At least to me) Not even in a small way but just enough to cause you to think it's not normal.

The desert of Utah is a strange place but for truck driver Ben Jones, it's his home and job as he drives up and down Route 117 making deliveries for the inhabitants.

Not a lot really happens for 90% of the book. You meet the characters through Ben's eyes and his opinions of them and Anderson does a fantastic job with words and prose to make you feel like you're sitting in the cab with Ben as he makes his rounds.

The owner of the titled diner and his grumpiness, the brothers who seem to not be entirely all right in the head, the preacher who carries a cross as he walks the route, a couple other characters, and then a strange woman who plays the cello.

You slowly learn more about them and particularly the cello playing woman, to whom Ben becomes a bit attached.

The progression of the plot is slow but satisfying.

Then the climax builds near the last 10% of the story and things come into focus and upsetting.

I remember thinking, "What in the world is going on?" as I finished up the last three chapters.

I'm glad I read this book. I think Anderson has a real talent. The Utah desert was a unique setting for a slightly offbeat story.

This book was provided for review, at no cost, by Crown Publishing.

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