Nick Pente’s life has just crashed.
It’s early dawn in the winter of 1957. He’s hanging from the edge of legendary Route 66 in Northern Arizona, suspended over the snow-covered rails below. He shudders behind the steering wheel of his Diamond-T semi-truck, its enormous engine still humming. It dangles by no more than a splinter from an icy railroad bridge. As the Santa Fe Super Chief approaches below, he hears the horn blast. The bridge shakes. Nick watches and waits.
He is aware.
Somewhere behind him are those two men in the black Mercury. They had tailed him for his last thousand miles down the main street of America. For what? Why? Nick only knows is that he must not let his self-awareness fade. He must not let his psychological “dead spot” take him down. Not now.
“I am aware. I am Nick Pente. I am aware” he softly repeats to no one.
The train nears, the truck tips downward, and the timeline explodes. Then, the adventure begins. Nick will learn more about the world that betrayed him and his own identity than he ever before imagined.
“Bill LaBrie has crafted a lyrical hero’s journey, with rich characters and vivid descriptions worthy of Stephen King at his best. Eye of the Diamond T is a magical and thrilling adventure that spans the years and ventures into the depths of human consciousness.”—Sean Ellis, author of Fortune Favors
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About the Author
Born into a family of travelling lounge musicians, my earliest memories were of the vast American West speeding past the windows of various Detroit sedans from the 1960s. I was homeschooled from 4th grade through high school and took my diploma through correspondence back before they called it "distance learning". I was writing short stories at the age of nine, mixing records and writing songs at fourteen, and working two jobs as well as managing a business at twenty after my dad suddenly died. I'm a graduate of Thomas More College (Philosophy '94), a certified UNIX admin, a 20-year veteran of Fortune-50 IT departments, a published writer, journalist, poet, and PR flack, a twice-married/twice-divorced sometimes-Catholic single dad, a philanthropist, a songwriter, a terror on two wheels, and most recently, a novelist.
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
Bill LaBrie’s fantastic debut novel, Eye of the Diamond-T, starts you off at the edge of your seat, almost quite literally. In the opener, the narrator, long-haul trucker Nick Pente, is trapped in his beloved Diamond-T truck, which is suspended over a railroad bridge, a massive locomotive barreling toward it. Bacho, a Native American whose tribal affiliation is not made entirely clear, rescues him, and takes him back to his home in the mountains near Seligman, Arizona. Here, Nick meets Bacho’s beautiful, self-educated daughter, Euri, with whom he feels an instant, deep connection. What follows is a frenetic, yet well-paced narrative that combines Greek, Hopi and Biblical mythology, zigzags back and forth in time and, it seems, between different metaphorical realities, to tell the story of Nick and what brought him to that bridge. Despite its unusual plotting and structure, at its heart Eye of the Diamond-T is about the very human reckoning of Nick with his past, which tortures him in a way that LaBrie recounts with agonizing yet exhilarating detail, most notably in a devastating episode from Nick’s time as a soldier in World War II. It really brought me into the mind of Nick, and although that is a disturbing place, I found his story and his pain deeply relatable. Who doesn’t have moments of regret over the past—over what could have or should have been? In Nick, LaBrie brings this home with such pathos that you feel what he feels right along with him. How Nick comes to term with his past is something I won’t detail further, as I don’t want to ruin this wonderful story for future readers. I will say that LaBrie renders it in excellent, descriptive prose, gradually revealing, through flashbacks, Nick’s childhood, adolescence (which coincided with his time in WWII) and psychological struggles in early adulthood. I especially love the author’s immersive, highly believable descriptions of life as a long-haul trucker in the 1950s Southwest, complete with the colorful dialogue of the lifestyle, from the truckers’ cant to the flirtatious drawl of seen-it-all truck-stop waitresses, along with the richly painted tones of the trappings of Bacho and Euri’s mountain homestead. I felt that the star-crossed, instant connection between Nick and Euri was a bit unrealistic at first. As the book progresses, however, LaBrie builds a more genuine, believable connection between the characters. Later, there are moments of complete transcendence in their love story that I feel make up for the contrived feel to their initial interactions. At points, the characterization of Euri and Bacho, Native Americans—especially Bacho—struck me as bordering on Hollywood stereotype. But this may be the author’s rendition of the machinations of Nick’s confused, agitated state of mind. Overall, however, I loved this book. Despite its sometimes negative and upsetting aspects, I didn’t want to leave the world of Eye of the Diamond-T. I felt so much of what Nick felt, and really rooted for him to overcome his demons. This is a fine first novel, and I highly recommend it.