The Sun Down Motel. Simone St. James. Penguin Publishing Group. February 2020. pb, 336 pp.; ISBN #: 9780440000174.
In upstate New York in 1982, Vivian Delaney takes a job as a night clerk at the motel in the small town of Fell after leaving home and her disagreements with her family. She intends this job to be temporary as she plans to make enough money to go to New York City to become an actress. However, this turns out to ghostbe a very complicated position. There are ghosts in the motel, all connected with disappearances, murder and other trouble. Years later, Vivian’s niece, Carly, travels to Fell determined to find out why and how her aunt disappeared. Carly is an untrained but intelligent young woman who uses her skills to track the past problems.
Carly finds the job at the motel to be as creepy as her aunt did years ago. At certain moments she smells fresh cigarette smoke but never finds out the source of that smell. Doors in the motel randomly open and then slam shut. She sees an appearance of a woman that she knows is a ghost. There’s also a trace of a young boy who supposedly fell into the empty pool and died from the fall.
The novel switches between Viv’s and Carly’s accounts, past and present. There’s a salesman who frequently stays over who signs a different name every time he appears. There’s a photographer who takes strange pictures that just might provide clues of a serial killer. There’s a policewoman who tries to get both women to stop playing amateur detective. There’s a man who’s trying to work through his very troubled past that involved his family’s violent past but who is very appealing to Carly.
This novel will keep readers awake long past bedtime. It has ample eeriness, tension and mystery to hold any mystery lover’s interest. And most of all, it maintains a very credible ambience that makes the supernatural seem real but not frighteningly so!
Nice read that’s well-crafted and highly recommended!