Books Reviews

The Never-Open Desert Diner

Re-published by Crown Publishing
First published by Caravel Books

Summary: Ben Jones, the hero of James Anderson’s novel, The Never-Open Desert Diner is abuot to lose his small trucking company. A single, thirty-eight-year-old truck driver, Ben’s route takes him back and forth across one of the most desolate and beautiful regions of the Utah desert.
The orphan son of a Native American father and a Jewish social worker, Ben is drawn into a love affair with a mysterious woman, Claire, who plays a cello in the model home of an abandoned housing development in the desert. Her appearance, seemingly out of nowhere, reignites a decades-old tragedy at a roadside café referred to by the locals as The Never-Open Desert Diner. The owner of the diner, Walt Butterfield, is an embittered and solitary old man who refuses to yield to change after his wife’s death.
Ben’s daily deliveries along the atmospheric and evocative desert highway bring him into contact with an eccentric cast of characters that includes: John, an itinerant preacher who drags a life-sized cross along the blazing roadside; the Lacey brothers, Fergus and Duncan, who live in boxcars mounted on cinderblocks; and Ginny, a pregnant and homeless punk teenager whose survival skills make her an unlikely heroine.
Ben’s job as a truck driver is more than a career; it is a life he loves. As he faces bankruptcy and the possible loss of everything that matters to him, he finds himself at the heart of a horrific crime that was committed forty years earlier and now threatens to destroy the lives of those left in its wake.
My thoughts: I loved this book. Unabashedly. It wrenched my heart right out of me at times though. The narrative was unsentimental, sometimes really dry. However, I was so involved in the story. 
When I reached halfway through the book, I realised why it seemed so familiar. The descriptions of the land, the characters and even some of the incidents reminded me of some of Louis L’Amour‘s books. This is high praise coming from me because L’Amour is one of my favourite authors. I feel very few writers can describe the landscape as well as him.
The thing I disliked about the book was that there were spelling errors (lighting instead of lightning in more than one place etc.). I hope they have been corrected.
Note: I received a copy from Caravel Books in exchange for a honest review when they published it in February 2015. I thank them for that. (Caravel Books is no longer selling the book as it has been re-published in 2016 by Crown Publishing.)

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