The Sun Down Motel by Simone St. James




In 1982, Viv Delaney ran away from home to start a new life. She ended up in Fell, New York. She got a job as an overnight clerk at a road side motel in the middle of nowhere. This town has secrets, and more than a couple murder victims. The motel also happens to have ghosts, and they get very active at night. On one such night in November 1982, Viv disappears without a trace.

35 years later, her niece Carly travels to Fell to see the place where her long lost Aunt lived. She finds her apartment and amazingly gets a room there. She travels to the motel and, once again, gets the night clerk position. As she investigates the circumstances of Viv’s disappearance, she discovers the grisly history of the town, and comes into contact with the spirits inhabiting the motel. She must piece together the mystery of her Aunt, and the town of Fell before she suffers her Aunt’s fate.

I’ve spent the last several weeks trying to slog through a book set in the 1920’s. I am normally really into Jazz age stories, but this one wasn’t working. I hate not finishing a book, but I decided to give up as my “to read” pile, the “Tsundoku”, was taunting me. I picked this one as it was at the top of the pile, intending to read a few chapters before bed. Suddenly it is 3AM and I am finishing the thing.

This was a hell of a book. I enjoy a good ghost story, and I like a good mystery. Combine them and you’ve got something great. The weaving of the tale between 1982 and 2017 worked really well. Unlike many mystery novels, this one did not peter out at the end. In fact, St James ratcheted up the action and had me fully invested. As the end approached I felt that twinge of sadness and excitement of seeing how it finishes. The initial ghost scenes were downright terrifying, and I appreciated how, as the story progressed, the ghosts were not necessarily the scariest thing in the book. As always, we humans are the most terrifying thing around. “I read it in 5 straight hours” is always a good recommendation, so do yourselves a favor and check it out! I will definitely be exploring her other novels.

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