book review

The Sun Down Motel by Simone St. James


Publication Date: February 18, 2020

Publisher: Berkley

Pages: 336

Genre: Mystery with a paranormal element

Rating: 4/5

This is a really well thought out and beautifully crafted mystery with strong paranormal elements. It is a dual timeline story following Viv in 1982 and her niece, Carly in the present day. Viv has left home and is hitchhiking her way to New York City when she decides to stop and stay in Fell, NY. She starts working the night shift of the Sun Down Motel and through her experiences at the motel she becomes intrigued by all the murders that have happened in Fell in recent years. Once Viv starts investigating she starts putting the pieces together of how these women are not only connected to each other but also to the motel. Then, one night, while she is working Viv disappears with all of her things left in the motel office. Carly visits Fell because now that her mom has died she wants to figure out what exactly happened with her Aunt. Viv’s disappearance has been a shadow looming over Carly and her family’s life and she wants to find some closure. While staying in Fell Carly’s life starts to eerily mimic her Aunt’s as she is working to solve the mystery of her disappearance.

The way St. James is able to interweave these two storylines together is so well done that this book almost begs to be read in one sitting. Everything is so connected and moves together so well that the mystery is superbly unraveled. The atmosphere and the setting made the Sun Down almost a character in its own right. The paranormal aspect of this story was also really well done and felt believably real. While both Viv and Carly were both well fleshed out characters I was more connected to Viv. I think this is because I was just really invested in solving the murders and while I really wanted to know what happened to Viv it wasn’t to the same level.

I do have point out though, that as much as I loved this book, the entire story was pretty predictable. There wasn’t a single reveal that came as a surprise to me but I also read a lot of mystery/thrillers so that may be the reason. It didn’t hamper my enjoyment at all but I did want to mention it. On the other hand I was disappointed by the ending. The conclusion of the mystery aspect was well done it was the things that happened after that I didn’t like.

I highly recommend this book to anyone who is in the mood for a good mystery. I think this is the perfect rainy/snowy day read that will make you happy you get to stay inside all day. Last year I read The Broken Girls by the same author and that one is a historical fiction mystery with paranormal elements that also has a dual timeline. I think it’s safe to say that St. James knows what she’s good at and I can’t wait to see what she comes out with in the future. I also plan on diving into her backlist!



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