The Sun Down Motel by Simone St. James

In Fell, NY there’s a roadside motel that was built to accommodate the crowds for a promised amusement park… but that dream never came to be and for decades it has become a place of local legends, ghost stories, and several families’ dark secrets.

In 1982, Viv escapes her midwest upbringing to chase a dream of New York stardom. She makes it as far as Fell and gets a job as the night clerk at the motel. A series of strange occurrences drives her to search out answers. Answers to disappearances that have plagued Fell for years. But what happens when she is one of the victims?

Jump to 2017 and the dual timeline of Viv’s niece Carly… after a time of grieving in her own life, she is propelled to step away from college to do her own investigation into her aunt’s disappearance. She arrives in Fell without many clues, but finds several people who are willing to help and several who clam up at the mention of the town’s dark history.

A traveling salesman, a lucid affair, a romantic interest, and a cop who might just give an amateur a chance… All these characters are used to deftly twist the main characters around and around. St. James has true skill at switching the POV at just the right time. And the bits of researched ‘history’ is sprinkled in to add a layer of authenticity to the narrative.

I only have a very small criticism in that the two stories got a little jumbled in my mind in the first half of the book. But then they take dramatic turns that start to differentiate the timelines in dastardly ways.

Start with some small town secrets, add a pinch of supernatural creepiness, a dash of good detective work and The Sun Down Motel is a perfect book to curl up with on a dark night.

4 out of 5 stars

Thank you to Edelweiss, Penguin Books, and the author for an advanced copy for review.

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