Posted first to Blog Critics as Book Review: 'The Never-Open Desert Diner' by James Anderson.
We are introduced to one such hauler in The Never-Open Desert Diner by James Anderson. Put your own thoughts of what trucking is aside as you enter the cab of Ben Jones, a truck driver that navigates a section of the Utah highway. Trying to make his way in a job he loves, he finds himself sinking ever deeper into debt. Highway 117 is a stark and lonely trek that Ben navigates every day. Delivering to those who hire his expertise, he has been doing the same job for some time. While trust is not easily gained, he delivers to the same people over and over, and a form of bond has set in. Yet he knows that trust is fragile and he must always maintain that status. For him these wary inhabitants are his only friends and he is not sure what they will do when he loses his truck. Down on his luck doesn’t even begin to describe his existence.
Suddenly life changes and he is thrust into a situation where violence and mystery rule. Finding an area he had never seen before, he spots a young woman playing a Cello, isolated and hidden. He is intrigued and finds himself returning time and again, haunted by the picture in his mind. His life as he has lived it is about to change as he attracts the interest of those who only want one thing. The cello, hidden away in a place they cannot find.
Ben has to draw on his inner reserves and the people whose trust he holds to stay ahead of those who mean him harm. Life for him and his group of friends takes a turn to deadly.
This is an interesting and strange work, filled with an appealing but strange group of characters that you will come to care about. As their own faults and secrets come to life, you begin to understand the hidden fissures of why they live in such an area of solitude.
If you enjoy mystery and romance as well as stories of change you will find this to be a remarkable piece or work. A great book for your library one you could read again and again only to gain just one more morsel missed in the first pass.
This would be a great work for a book club or reading group.