Ben Jones, the proprietor and sole employee of Ben’s Desert Moon Delivery Service, knows better than to give in to curiosity. He sticks to himself as he makes the stops along his route in Utah’s remote high desert, including the Well-Known Desert Diner. But when he chances upon an unfinished housing development just off the highway, he notices a woman playing a stringless cello in the otherwise abandoned model unit. He’s intrigued, to say the least, and you will be too when you pick up this outstanding debut novel.With each chapter, Anderson tantalizingly reveals details about Ben, the “Never-Open” Desert Diner, the horrific act of violence that took place there in the 1970s, other characters on Route 117, a reality TV show pitch (or is it?), and the novel’s core mystery. It’s a book about isolation, both geographical and emotional, that’s perfectly mirrored in its tone and pacing. With a hapless pregnant teenager who stumbles back into Ben’s life, it even has a bit of crossover appeal for young adult readers. The author’s evocative writing style perfectly captures the arid landscape that his characters inhabit. Here’s one of my favorite lines, capturing a stolen moment during a sandstorm: “The skylight above the woman filled the room with a pulsing pink glow like the inside of a beating heart.” From the haunting cover image to the mesmerizing unspooling of the plot, The Never-Open Desert Diner is a book you don’t want to miss! With its arresting combination of place and story, it calls to mind another one of my recent favorites, My Sunshine Away by M.O. Walsh:Thank you to Blogging for Books for providing a copy of The Never-Open Desert Diner by James Anderson in exchange for an honest review!