The Never-Open Desert Diner, by James Anderson
Crown Publishing Group; March 22, 2016
I am not sure where to begin with this amazing novel that I just finished reading! Author James Anderson’s debut novel, The Never-Open Desert Diner has just floored me! This novel is a brilliant mix of fiction, crime, suspense, a little bit of romance, and comedy. This novel centers around a truck driver named Ben, who is broke and getting ready to go out of business. He has a daily route down the lonely, mysterious U.S. 191 to State road 117, making various deliveries to a combination of mysterious loners that have chosen this desolate place as their home. There is Walt, the owner of the diner that has rarely been open since 1987 – lending the novel’s name, Duncan and Fergus, living in two old boxcars, and there is Preach (real name John) that hauls a huge cross up and down the highway and stops for imaginary smoke breaks with Ben. One day Ben comes across a woman inside of what he thought was an abandoned house, resulting in twists and turns of mystery and suspense. In addition to those along 117, Ben also reconnects with the pregnant, teenage daughter of an old girlfriend, whom he unsuccessfully tries to push away. This novel is full of back-stories and details that captivate the reader and make you want to keep learning about the quiet, down on his luck, Ben.
Besides being wildly entertaining, one word that truly embodies this novel is, hilarious! This is not an obviously funny novel – more like blink and you’ll miss it – but if you have a sense of humor like the author’s, prepare to laugh hysterically several times. Besides the quirky humor, Anderson writes with an exceptional understanding of imagery and descriptive language. From the first page, you picture each of the characters’ faces, seeing the old lines embedded in the faces of sun-burned, desert skin. The writing conjures up the sound of the characters’ voices, and even the feeling of unforgiving desert heat and sand on your body. This book was nothing that I expected, and that feeling continues as you move through each chapter. I honestly never had a clue what was going to happen next, which is both frustrating and refreshing at the same time! This is not a nail-biter suspense novel, but still a page-turner as you try to try to figure out more about the characters, their pasts, and what is yet to be.
I cannot think of anything even remotely negative to write about this novel. James Anderson’s debut is simply fantastic, and quite honestly, should be flying off of the shelves of every bookstore. This is an author to watch and I hope to read more of his work very soon! I do believe I will try to snag on author interview after reading this one, so cross your fingers and stay tuned!
Want to learn more about James Anderson? Visit his website at: http://jamesandersonauthor.com/
Disclaimer: I received this book from Blogging for Books in exchange for an honest review.