The Sun Down Motel by Simone St. James

The Sun Down Motel

The Sun Down Motel
by Simone St. James


327 Pages

Published by Berkley (18th February 2020)

Purchase from | Booktopia | Fishpond AU* | Book Depository | Dymocks | QBD | Amazon AU | Amazon US | Amazon UK |

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My rating: ⭐ ⭐ ⭐ ⭐ ⭐

1982: Viv Delaney has left home and is on her way to anywhere else. She winds up in Fell, New York, working the night shift at a seedy highway motel called The Sun Down Motel. She’s only doing this until she has enough money to make it to New York City, however, she becomes ensnared by the secrets of the Sun Down. This hunt for the truth ends with Viv disappearing, never to be heard from again.

2017: Viv’s niece has been obsessed with her disappearance her whole life. Her mother never wanted to talk about it, so she kept her need for answers locked away. With her mother now gone, she has free reign to finally find out what happened to her aunt all those years ago. But will chasing down the truth about her aunt end with her meeting the same fate?

This was my first read from St. James and it definitely is not my last. I bought this on a whim after I was finding it incredibly difficult to get my hands on a copy of The Book of Cold Cases, so I took this one as a consolation prize, and let me tell you. It was anything BUT that.

This book grabbed me from the get go. Told through alternating POVs between Viv Delaney in 1982 and her niece in 2017. St. James is an author who really knows how to utilise the dual POV narration, and she does it so freaking well. Getting to follow Viv along the timeline that lead to her disappearance was a ride and a half, and following her niece so many years later who was looking for the truth, gave me the feel of going along for the ride and discovering everything together. I really felt like I was walking beside Viv’s niece as she hunted for clues, ended up working the same shift as her missing aunt and experiencing a lot of the things that Viv did.

St. James does a fantastic job of really setting the scene and building an oppressive atmosphere around the motel. The motel itself was virtually a character all of it’s own, and I loved that about this story. The small details and creepy scenes and happenings that the characters experienced were so well written as to send shivers up the spine and really make you look over your shoulder to make sure no one is there. It was a slow build and it worked so well.

The story itself was well written and very well thought out and executed. I didn’t have anything worked out prior to finding out right alongside the characters, and that’s a wonderful thing to experience as it’s hard to find a book that really keeps me guessing. This one did just that. The need to know what happened to Viv and whether her niece was going to ultimately end up the same way really kept me reading. I literally could not put this book down. I think I read half of it in one sitting. The mystery was so well thought out and planned too, I did not guess a thing until I was supposed to. Everything was tied up nice and neatly at the end.

I really enjoyed the characters. Following Viv’s storyline I really got a feel for a woman who is just starting her life, but knows she wants more. And I really felt like I was back in the 80s as I followed her along. While Viv’s character was so full of hope and had these grand plans set out in front of her for a huge life, her niece was the total opposite. This was a woman who was desperate for answers, she put her whole life on hold (literally, she took a leave of absence from College) in order to get these answers and she wasn’t going to take no for an answer, from anybody. The addition of the room mate in the 2017 timeline was great, and I feel like it was nice to have that extra person as a support character, otherwise it would have given a greater feel of being isolated. And as said above, the motel itself was like a character all of it’s own and it was so well written. I could picture it in my head, the little run down, dive motel that you only stop at if you’re incredibly desperate. I felt like I could smell the mildew in the carpet.

All in all, this was an amazing book and I honestly didn’t expect to love it so much. I’d even go so far as to say I’d happily re-read this one. It’s just such a good story that I wouldn’t even care that I knew what was going to happen. I’ve actually recommended this book to a few people already, and already leant it out to a friend. If St. James’ books are all this riveting, I’m in trouble, I don’t need more books, but I will buy them in heart beat! If you like a creepy mystery, dual timelines and a riveting story that keeps you guessing, give this one a go. You won’t be disappointed.

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