The Sun Down Motel by Simone St. James
Publishing February 18, 2020
This is one of the best mystery books I have read in a long time! I normally don’t read books with supernatural elements, but this one was done so well that I would read it again and again! Fans of Stranger Things would love this book! Atmospheric, creepy, suspenseful, and so hard to put down! The story unfolds in dual narratives between Viv in 1982, and her niece Carly in 2017, who have very similar lifestyle choices, despite the age gap of 35 years and that Carly wasn’t even born when Viv disappeared. This is the story of the doomed Sun Down Motel, the strangely compelling town of Fell, New York, and a string of murdered girls with unsolved cases and unfinished business.
1982: Viv doesn’t get along with her mother. She takes off on her own, ending up in Fell, New York where she accepts a night shift position at the Sun Down Motel, a place full of secrets and not much business. She finds a roommate, Jenny, who isn’t really around much, so she spends most all of her time alone. The Sun Down Motel is rumored to be haunted, and it doesn’t take long for Viv to become intrigued, and spooked by its mystery. A young boy died in the pool a few years back, which is now closed down and deserted. Even more disturbing is the string of young women who have been murdered in the small town as of late. Viv is so bothered by the unsolved cases that she begins to retrace the final days of each victim, becoming totally consumed by her amateur, but surprisingly valid findings. She makes a friend with a local police woman, Alma, who doesn’t believe Viv. She thinks Viv spends too much time at the Sun Down and tries to get her to seek therapy. Viv is brave and tenacious, continuing to investigate even when she starts to feel real danger. The killer is still walking free in Fell, and Viv is determined to stop him at all costs.
2017: After losing her mother to cancer, Carly is sort of over college, so she leaves Illinois and makes her way to upstate New York, to the town of Fell, where her aunt Viv spent her last days before she died. It pains Carly to know that her mother died grieving her only sister, believing her to be dead, and never knowing the truth about what really happened to her. Carly lucks out and finds Heather, who turns out to be a great roommate and friend. When she arrives at the rundown, eerie Sun Down Motel to retrace the steps of her aunt Viv, Carly ends up with a night shift job, the very job that her aunt Viv had 35 years prior. What could possibly go wrong? It will give her time to investigate and try to figure out what happened to Viv. Buckle up, Carly, because the Sun Down Motel is ready for you. The question is…is Carly prepared for it?
I absolutely loved this book with the strong female characters. Original, well-written, and unputdownable! It gave me chills at many points along the way. Now I’m off to read more of Simone St. James’s books.
Thank you to Netgalley for providing me with an early copy of this title.
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