Title: Big Diehl: The Road Home
Author: George Seaton
Publisher: MLR Press
Buy Link: Amazon.com
Genre: Contemporary M/M
Length: Novel (421 PDF pages)
Rating: 4.5 stars out of 5
A guest review by John
Summary Review: Big Diehl, the Road Home is about a young man who leaves home in Wyoming, joins the U.S. Army, and is wounded in Iraq. He returns home to deal with a life that has never left him alone, mainly his past relationship with his dad and best friend from high school.
Diehl’s return to Wyoming from six years of service to his country—including combat in Iraq—is colored with a dark intent to even the score with his father. But before he can once again embrace that family, including Tony, a ranch hand with a military history of his own, Diehl’s single-minded purpose of revenge against his father precipitates events that turn his life in a direction never envisioned. His comfort through it all, is Jack, a Border Collie who Diehl rescues from certain death; a dog who, perhaps, rescues Diehl from himself.
George Seaton’s website says that The Road Home continues the story started in the novella, Big Diehl reviewed here, and when Wave asked me to review this book, she advised me to read Big Diehl first. I did and throughly enjoyed it and definitely agreed with Wave’s review and rating, but part way into The Road Home I found that this was not just a continuation, it included all of the first story.
The Road Home starts with Diehl driving north through Colorado, having just been discharged from the Army. His last base was Ft. Hood, Texas, where he came to recover from wounds he received in Iraq. His physical wounds have healed, but Diehl continued to be haunted by his life before he joined the army. His first priority was to settle an old score with his dad and then visit his friends Maddie and Chris, a lesbian couple, as well as Tony, with whom he had had a fling that lasted all through his time in the military. During the two weeks waiting period before the army was ready for him, Maddie and Chris had befriended Diehl and given him a home on their ranch near Casper, Wyoming.
The distance between Colorado and Maddie’s ranch is not more than a day’s travel by car, but a lifetime of events happened before Diehl arrived.
Diehl’s plans for revenge literally go up in smoke. He had stopped on the side of the highway when he saw a border collie lying in the middle of the road. He was immediately reminded of a dog he had during his time growing up on a ranch. He couldn’t stand the thought that this dog would be run over just like his first one was, so he rescued the dog, and then saw his old clunker of a car explode in flames. He immediately walked away, not wanting to see any cops and having to explain why the car exploded so violently. The dog, now named Jack, trotted along with Diehl as he continued his journey.
He met a young girl on the road who gave him a ride into town. This girl made sexual advances toward our hero but he turned her down. She then picked up the first willing man who promised her a good time, but this was the last ‘good’ time she had as she was found dead in a motel room, coincidently right next door to the room Diehl had rented for the night. As you can imagine, Diehl was quickly implicated, while the detectives, the deputies and the sheriffs from the counties, men who hold the law in high regard, searched for the killer.
Along the way we met Diehl’s dad and the old widow ladies who were his neighbors in a rundown trailer park. One of these women was Joe Tye’s mama. Joe was Diehl’s best friend in high school who disappointed him and broke his heart. After graduation they had planned on leaving home and seeing what possibilities lay before them, but Joe couldn’t leave his mama, so Diehl joined the army.
I don’t want to give away too many details or spoilers in this review. There are lots and lots of secondary characters, but each character is described and developed with background information that makes them come alive. Even the lonely old men running the feed store get their 10 minutes in the spotlight.
The writing style is sort of clipped. I’m not sure how to explain this, but it is written with relatively few words, but with these words much is told. There are definitely no examples of purple prose. 🙂
The book, which I enjoyed very much, wrapped up with a surprise ending. Definitely Recommended.