The Never-Open Desert Diner is a mystery peopled with characters who’ve lost themselves along a lonely road in the Utah desert. Ben, the character who ties them all together, is a truck driver who brings this cast of fugitives from the law, and life, everything from motorcycle spare parts to butter brickle ice cream. The desert itself is also a character, sometimes hauntingly beautiful and sometimes harsh, even deadly. In this intriguing debut novel, Author James Anderson engages his readers with poetic prose that paints a picture of both the beauty and desolation of the desert, and entertains them by revealing the stories of the unlikely neighbors along Utah highway 117.
A singularly compelling debut novel, about a desert where people go to escape their past, and a truck driver who finds himself at risk when he falls in love with a mysterious woman.
Ben Jones lives a quiet, hardscrabble life, working as a trucker on Route 117, a little-travelled road in a remote region of the Utah desert which serves as a haven for fugitives and others looking to hide from the world. For many of the desert's inhabitants, Ben's visits are their only contact with the outside world, and the only landmark worth noting is a once-famous roadside diner that hasn't opened in years. Ben's routine is turned upside down when he stumbles across a beautiful woman named Claire playing a cello in an abandoned housing development. He can tell that she's fleeing something in her past--a dark secret that pushed her to the end of the earth--but despite his better judgment he is inexorably drawn to her. As Ben and Claire fall in love, specters from her past begin to resurface, with serious and life-threatening consequences not only for them both, but for others who have made this desert their sanctuary. Dangerous men come looking for her, and as they turn Route 117 upside down in their search, the long-buried secrets of those who've laid claim to this desert come to light, bringing Ben and the other locals into deadly conflict with Claire's pursuers. Ultimately, the answers they all seek are connected to the desert's greatest mystery--what really happened all those years ago at the never-open desert diner? In this unforgettable story of love and loss, Ben learns the enduring truth that some violent crimes renew themselves across generations. At turns funny, heartbreaking and thrilling, The Never-Open Desert Diner powerfully evokes an unforgettable setting and introduces readers to a cast of characters who will linger long after the last page.
About the Author
JAMES ANDERSON grew up in the Pacific Northwest. He is a graduate of Reed College, and received his MFA in creative writing from Pine Manor College. His short fiction, poetry, essays, and reviews have appeared in many magazines, and he previously served as the publisher and editor-in-chief of Breitenbush Books. The Never-Open Desert Diner is his first novel.