TRUCK STOP JESUS, BY BUCK STORM
PUBLICATION: HERITAGE BEACON FICTION; NOVEMBER 1, 2016
About the book: Oh, for a simpler time! Paradise Jones dreams of the Hollywood glamour days. Clothes, hair, vintage car–you name it, she’s got it. She’s classic retro, a 21st-century image of her favorite Golden Era stars–Doris, Audrey, Esther, Marilyn. The entertainment rags call Paradise eccentric. The studios rarely call at all. When an altercation with her leering stepfather forces her to flee Los Angeles, Paradise leaves behind everything she loves and longs for.
A few hundred miles east, Doc Morales’ years of hard work in the minors of Major League Baseball have produced exactly one at-bat in the Big Show. A collision at first, a blown knee, and adios dreams. Nothing left to live for but pick-up games and his collection of old movies. Nothing, that is, until beautiful, damaged Paradise Jones crashes into his small, Arizona town. So begins an epic road trip that will change everything.
Throw in a couple of oddball bounty hunters, a forgotten movie-star boat captain, a cowboy priest, and a dashboard Jesus that is more than meets the eye, and Paradise and Doc have all the ingredients they need to cook up a fun and quirky slice of Americana pie.
What an incredible hidden gem I discovered with Truck Stop Jesus. When I downloaded this from Amazon I wasn’t aware that it was considered Christian Fiction, not that it matters, but I also was not aware of what a fun and crazy adventure I was in store for! Paradise Jones is a wanna-be actress in L.A. that dresses like actresses from the old Hollywood days such as Lana Turner and Esther Williams. After her father dies and her creepy stepfather makes a pass at her, she attempts to get revenge and soon finds herself “on the lam,” fleeing L.A. Never having really known her father, she decides to head to his birthplace and her namesake, Paradise, AZ. Here she meets Doc Morales, an almost star in the Major Leagues prior to injuring his knee, his ex-rodeo star turned priest brother Jake, and a minister/cop named Paco. Between her stepfather hunting her down and the discovery of old coins, Paradise and Doc are in for a wild road trip!
Paradise was such a unique and independent character! She marched to the beat of her own drummer, dressing as she liked and able to match anyone in witty banter. Doc was appealing from the start, prompting images of Kevin Costner in Bull Durham. Burt, the gross stepfather that Paradise is running from, was just gross. The bounty hunters Hollister and Crystal started out just o.k. for me, but I ended up absolutely adoring them. Same with Lan, the old hidden Hollywood star, Doris and Hap from a tiny town along the way, Easy, Poppy, Cal, Leena, and so much more. There are no words to describe Buck Storm’s characterization. I loved everything about the story, but his character development is what really stood out. Each character was so well described and so different from each other, yet they all blended so well. This is an author that makes sure that you absolutely know all of his characters without a shadow of a doubt.
The plot was incredible and full of so many twists and turns the excitement never ended. While reading I knew that something was getting ready to happen or go wrong, yet I never knew exactly what it would be until it happened. There was non-stop action in this novel that was not overdone and did not even seem pre-meditated. I felt as if I was reading along as the author wrote, just letting things happen as they came to him.
I hate to make comparisons but Buck Storm’s characterization and storytelling remind me of James Anderson’s Never-Open Desert Diner. Every character and every action are quirky and unexpected, yet it all seems to make perfect sense. Hands down, this is my favorite read so far this year and it will forever hold a spot on my top 10 favorite books ever.