A red sun was balanced on the horizon when I arrived at the Well-Known Desert Diner. Sunrise shadows were draped around its corners. A full white moon was still visible in the dawn sky.
Those opening lines truly set the tone of The Never-Open Desert Diner, by James Anderson. My guess is that Mr. Anderson decided to write a story about the desert on Route 117 first, the plot second. And I mean that as a compliment. Like the desert setting of the novel, Anderson spins a tale that is at once peaceful and uncomfortable. Reading it was a journey that felt like home, but a home you were slightly nervous to go back to.
Let’s go through the book review checklist, shall we?
Beautiful prose? Check.
Satisfying dialogue? Check.
Characters? Compelling and real.
The story starts out slowly, with only an immediate hint that there might be a mystery afoot. For a while, you don’t remember that mystery. But like the prevalent desert flash floods throughout the novel, everything important happens at once. And then it’s over and you are forced to think about what you’re left with how.
In other words, this book did exactly what it was supposed to do, and did it well.
When I finally climbed into bed after finishing the novel, I looked at the clock on my cable box. It was 1:17am. I smiled knowing that I now knew the story of 117.
Note: I received this book from Blogging for Books for this review.