Big Diehl: The Road Home
MLR Books, 2010
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.
Genre & Keywords:
M/M, Military, Cowboys, Suspense, Murder, Abuse, Love for dogs
Rating: 4 out of 5 stars
Heat level: 1.5 out of 3 flames
Why I read it:
The author sent me a copy for review
From the cover and the backblurb of Big Diehl: The Road Home one could think this book is about a boy (Diehl) and his dog (Jack). Well, it is, but there are lots of secondary characters too. Among them, a few of Diehl’s lovers; his friends (a lesbian couple that takes in waifs like him); his father and all kinds of different inhabitants of the region where Diehl grew up. Most of these characters get their own detailed attention and in some cases even their own voice or perspective through which we hear Diehl’s story. This makes this a very broad and circumstantial novel which is much more than a romance story.
In fact, the romantic elements are just a small part of this book. It’s more of a coming-of-age story about a young gay man finding his home. To accomplish this he has to deal with the abuse he suffered in his youth, go through six years of the tough military life he signed up for, and learn the hard way about death and loss.
I’m never one for extensively summarizing a book, but in this case I wouldn’t even dare to try to do that. In the first place because a lot is happening but secondly because the pleasure of reading this book lies mostly in letting the author take you from the beginning to the end of his story. It’s easy to surrender to his narrative: not only does Mr Seaton tell an interesting story – with a good insight in military life and Wyoming small town life, all wrapped in a nice suspenseful plot – he also likes to accommodate the reader by telling everything there is to know in detail. All threads are tied together nicely in the end, no questions are left unanswered and the reader can just sit back and let it all wash over him without having to think too much him/herself. By filling in everything himself and leaving nothing to the reader’s imagination the author risks that his reader gets a bit lazy, but sometimes a solid book like this can be such a delight. Personally I really enjoyed the ride Mr Seaton took me on - in his unusual writing style, with clipped sentences in which the use of a pronoun is considered overrated.
Step by step the picture the author presents of his main character gets constructed. This happens gradually and the picture gets clearer with every occurrence Diehl has to face by the way he handles things. A lot can also be read from his behavior towards his dog, Jack. The two of them are a moving pair to watch. And because the author uses an omniscient narrator it feels like we’re watching from the outside. Not only when it involves Diehl and Jack, but with everything that’s happening. At times I felt like watching it all from a helicopter with a camera that sometimes zoomed in on this part of Wyoming and sometimes on that part of some motel room, etc. This somehow worked perfectly for me. And forming my opinion about Diehl (and his adventures) felt like an objective process – pure and not manipulated by feelings (e.g. from other characters about him). I don’t know if this makes sense. Anyway, it resulted in me loving Diehl. He’s a straightforward, honest guy who’s very likeable, which helps a lot in enjoying his story.
For those who like their stories to have a HEA ending, I can assure you this book has one. Although it’s uncertain until far into the book with whom Diehl will hook up eventually. He has loved more than one or two guys in those six years and I found myself constantly on the fence about who I wanted him to find his HEA with. This was partly due to the ‘incomplete’ backblurb regarding the mention of his love interest(s). Now I like to keep it a mystery too because I want you to find out yourself, plus, like I said before, the romantic elements aren’t necessarily this novel’s main focus. As a result the smexing (hey, I can’t not mention it ;)) is not to write home about. Not that the sex scenes aren't explicit, just pretty short and to the point. But although this might be far from a panty-scorching erotic story, it has a lot other interesting and good stuff to offer for every lover of gay themed novels! Hardcore romance/erotica readers might want to give this a skip, but everyone else I'll recommend to give it a try.
PS: The author assured me that it's not necessary to read the earlier published novella Big Diehl first, because all the information from that story can be found in Big Diehl: The Road Home. I think that this novel can indeed perfectly be read as a standalone.
George Seaton’s weblog | on Goodreads
Buy Big Diehl: The Road Home here