The Sun Down Motel
Simone St. James
In 1987, Vivian Delaney fled her home in Chicago for fame in New York City but was sidetracked in the upstate town of Fell where she began working at the Sun Down Motel. There, she began experiencing strange phenomenon and meeting unusual if not frightening guests as she learned that the most dangerous thing in Fell was being a woman. After being ignored by the police, driven both by curiosity and a sense of justice, Viv begins an investigation into the murders of three of Fell’s women. But then, Viv disappears from the motel, her belongings left in the lobby and her car left in the parking lot. She’s never found.
Thirty-five years later, Carly Kirk, adrift after her mother’s death from cancer, travels to Fell to learn what happened to her aunt Vivian. Carly begins mirroring Viv’s life in Fell, unknowingly picking up the threads of her research, and putting herself in the same danger. Will Fell claim her as a victim, too?
A homage to true crime aficionados, The Sun Down Motel alternates between Viv and Carly’s perspectives which maximized the suspense. I read lots of mysteries and thrillers, and this scared me like no other. I was terrified for Viv and later Carly, and I trusted no one.
Part of the book requires suspension of disbelief. I just went with it because it made the book that much more enjoyable. I also figured out one critical plot point early. It was still worth it to see how St. James uncovered it, but I think it would have been more satisfying had it been a surprise. I don’t know if this was a function of the writing or the fact that I read so many books in this genre, I know a lot of the tricks.
If you enjoy psychological thrillers with strong female protagonists, or if you enjoy the thrill of a good scare, I highly recommend this book.
Look for The Sun Down Motel in your favorite bookstore tomorrow!
Thank you to NetGalley and Berkley for providing an advance reading copy in exchange for an honest review.