James Anderson’s Debut Novel Earns Rave Reviews from Top Critics

Industry: Book Promotion

Critics are raving about James Anderson's debut novel, The Never-Open Desert Diner, a literary noir crime novel. "Literary Serendipity"

United States (PRUnderground) March 2nd, 2015

A voice that’s…high, dry and severely beautiful…Anderson is one fine storyteller.”

—Marilyn Stasio, The New York Times Book Review

 “…An extraordinary debut.”—Carole E. Barrowman, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel

“Anderson’s first novel…is a great one…[with] genius in creating characters that stay with you….You have not read a book like The Never-Open Desert Diner in a long time, if ever.
—Jackie K. Cooper, The Huffington Post

“Anderson distills the heat and shimmering haze of the Utah desert
into his fine first novel.”—Publishers Weekly

“Like a flash flood…once the action begins it’s nonstop…. Anderson…writes with a lyrical style and allows the plot to unfold in a manner as seductive as the desert itself.
Readers…will want to join his protagonist for the ride.”

Library Journal

“Seldom have I read a novel more affecting than The Never-Open Desert Diner, and seldom have I encountered such memorable characters.
Betty Webb, Mystery Scene Magazine

“Beautifully written with a delicate sense of humor and a set of a quirky
and often oddly endearing characters

Pop Matters

“We predict The Never-Open Desert Diner will be one of the best books you read in 2015.”

—Prose ‘n Cons™ Magazine

 “The Never Open Desert Diner is crime fiction that transcends the noir genre, in the vein of James Lee Burke and Dennis Lehane.”—William Hastings, author of The Hard Way

BEN JONES, the protagonist of James Anderson’s haunting debut novel, The Never-Open Desert Diner (Caravel Books, February, 2015), is on the verge of losing his small trucking company. A single, thirty-eight-year-old truck driver, Ben’s route takes him back and forth across one of the most desolate and beautiful regions of the Utah desert.

The orphan son of a Native American father and a Jewish social worker, Ben is drawn into a love affair with a mysterious woman, Claire, who plays a cello in the model home of an abandoned housing development in the desert. Her appearance, seemingly out of nowhere, reignites a decades-old tragedy at a roadside café referred to by the locals as The Never-Open Desert Diner. The owner of the diner, Walt Butterfield, is an embittered and solitary old man who refuses to yield to change after his wife’s death.

Ben’s daily deliveries along the atmospheric and evocative desert highway bring him into contact with an eccentric cast of characters that includes: John, an itinerant preacher who drags a life-sized cross along the blazing roadside; the Lacey brothers, Fergus and Duncan, who live in boxcars mounted on cinderblocks; and Ginny, a pregnant and homeless punk teenager whose survival skills make her an unlikely heroine.

Ben’s job as a truck driver is more than a career; it is a life he loves. As he faces bankruptcy and the possible loss of everything that matters to him, he finds himself at the heart of a horrific crime that was committed forty years earlier and now threatens to destroy the lives of those left in its wake.

“Maybe it was being orphaned and alone all my life, but I always steeled myself for the worst outcome I could envision,” says Ben. “That way I could shrug and almost be happy with anything that fell short of the worst. It was a peculiar life skill and one I had gotten damn good at.”

Ben discovers the desert is relentless in its grip, and what the desert wants, it takes. An unforgettable story of love and loss, Ben learns the enduring truth that some violent crimes renew themselves across generations.

The Never-Open Desert Diner is a unique blend of literary mystery and noir fiction that evokes a strong sense of place.  It is a story that holds the reader and refuses to let go and will linger long after the last page.


Author: James Anderson

Publisher: Caravel Books: New York; Pub. Date: February 2015

ISBN: 978-0-912887-10-4

Hardcover, 300 pages; $25.00

About James Anderson

James Anderson was born in Seattle and raised in Oregon and the Pacific Northwest. He is a graduate of Reed College in Portland, Oregon, and received his Master’s Degree in Creative Writing from Pine Manor College in Boston. For many years he worked in book publishing. Other jobs have included logging, commercial fishing and, briefly, truck driver. He currently divides his time between Ashland, Oregon and the Four Corners region of the American Southwest. For more information, visit www.jamesandersonauthor.com

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