by Simone St. James
After you’ve read THE SUN DOWN MOTEL, you’ll never want to stay at an indie roadside motel again.
Motels and hotels are odd enough with their strangers, unfamiliar spaces and odd noises, but the Sun Down Motel in Fells, NY, is in a class of its own.
Even its owners spend as little time there as possible. The only people who voluntarily check in are hookers, drug dealers, cheating spouses, and alcoholics wanting to drink in peace. And few of them want to spend a night at the Sun Down.
Then there are those who never leave: the ghost of the spinster teacher whose body was dumped there during construction; the ghost of the boy who cracked his head on the pool wall and died the first year the motel was open; and the ghost of the night manager who keeled over from a heart-attack in the office.
Vivian “Viv” Delaney and her niece Carly Kirk know those guests too well. The random odors of a burning cigarette. The mournful boy dressed in shorts wandering through. The doors that open by themselves even when locked. The lights that go out one by one on the walkways in front of the rooms just before the big motel sign lights sizzle out and the phone dies.
Viv ended up at the Sun Down Motel in 1982. She’d left home in Illinois to become an actress in New York City. A ride she’d hitched turned nasty and she was left on the side of a lonely highway in front of the motel. She took a job as night manager to earn some money before heading to New York City. But on Nov. 29, 1982, she vanished, leaving her purse in the office and her car parked outside. No trace of her was ever found.
Carly arrives in Fells in November 2017 committed to finding out what happened to the aunt she’d never known. Her mother, now dead of cancer, had refused to talk about her sister Viv. Among her papers, Carly found an envelope with an address in Fells on the outside and a newspaper article about Viv’s disappearance inside.
Author Simone St. James tells this story in parallel time lines separated by 35 years, with Carly walking in her aunt’s footsteps, taking a job as night manager at the Sun Down Motel, living in her old apartment and investigating why so many women were murdered in Fells over a three-year period ending with Viv’s disappearance.
This is a deliciously spooky tale. St. James can turn the ordinary — cigarette smoke, an opening door, a light going out — into something terrifying. Her ghosts are hair-raising. In the end, though, it’s not the supernatural that solves the mystery; it’s hard, courageous work by two women who bring this story to its startling conclusion.
You may also want to check out St. James’ mystery THE BROKEN GIRLS or Jennifer McMahon’s mysteries THE INVITED and THE WINTER PEOPLE.
About the Author: Simone St. James
Canadian author Simone St. James worked behind the scenes in television for 20 years before leaving to write full time.
Her first published novel was THE HAUNTING OF MADDY CLARE, which won two RITA Awards from the Romance Writers of America and an Arthur Ellis Award from Crime Writers of Canada.
Although THE SUN DOWN MOTEL is set in the 1980s and 201X, most of her books are set in England during the 1920s, including LOST AMONG THE LIVING (2016), THE OTHER SIDE OF MIDNIGHT (2015), SILENCE FOR THE DEAD (2014), and AN INQUIRY INTO LOVE AND DEATH (2013), which was nominated for an Arthur Ellis Award.
She lives outside Toronto with her husband and a spoiled rescue cat.