Posts Tagged ‘Mystery’

TheNeverOpenDesertDinerBen Jones, most probably an Afro-Jewish combo but he’s not sure, is a trucker on the isolated desert Route 117 in Utah. Not even making ends meet, he serves an oddball population, the only thing they all have in common is the desire to be left alone to do whatever they do.

One day, having the overwhelming need to pee, he pulls off the road, walks up a trail and sees a deserted unfinished house in a deserted barely laid out development, something he never noticed before. In the shade of the house, he leans in and begins his business. Unfortunately, seeing a woman’s face peering out an upstairs window startles him, causing him to fall over soiling himself in the process. He makes a hasty retreat.

How can anyone survive in a house, in the desert, that most probably has no electricity or running water? He is mesmerized by her vision and returns the following day, only to find her sitting naked in the living room, playing a cello with no strings. She apparently hears the music and her motions and concentration seem to make Ben hear the music as well, if only in his mind.

The Never-Open Desert Diner by James Anderson was positively reviewed in a journal, causing me to pick it up . It was billed as a mystery, but 220 pages in (out of 280 pages), I wouldn’t classify it as a mystery, or at least as your typical murder mystery…one reason being there hasn’t been a murder yet (mid way through, there is the mystery of a missing person, though). If this were non-fiction you’d label it as a memoir of a trucker as he traverses his route, introducing his customers, each one peculiar in his/her own way, such as Walt Butterfield who owns a diner which hasn’t been open since 1987 but is kept in spic ‘n span condition, Duncan and Fergus Lacey, two brothers who live in a railway car (there seemingly are no railroad tracks nearby, so how did it get there) and Ginny, a 17 year old pregnant girl who is making it on her own.

I wouldn’t label this a comedy/mystery such as Spenser Quinn’s mysteries with a dog as a narrator, however, The Never-Open Desert Diner certainly has comic elements to it. Mr. Anderson, it seems, is telling a yarn, one that you can envision listening to on the shaded front porch, sipping a cool drink, watching the mirages or lightning flashes out in the desert.

I was hoping this would break my streak of putting down books after 100 pages and it certainly has. I want to keep reading to find out how it ends. You probably will as well. I’d give The Never-Open Desert Diner a try for a fun trip down Route 117.

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