The Sundown Motel – Simone St. James

Carly is drawn to Fell, NY. Her 20-year-old Aunt Viv disappeared from there 35 years ago but her family would not talk about it. Viv was gone. Now Carly’s mother has died and her restless curiosity takes her to Fell, where she gets a job at the never-changing Sun Down Motel, working the night shift because that’s where Viv worked and the last place she was seen. You’ve seen this motel in every town of a certain size. Stuck in the fifties or sixties or, in this case, the seventies. Unchanged. Always kind of seedy. And you know people have died there, and it is so atmospheric, especially when you’re on night shift. In 1982, Viv got interested in a series of murders of women and girls in the area. Carly does too. The book alternates chapters between 1982 and 2017, as Carly struggles to find out, through research into old newspapers and interviews of people who might have information– was Viv killed too? What makes the doors open spontaneously? Why is there always the smell of cigarette smoke in the office, when no one is there? St. James writes evocatively and it was a pleasure to read this book. Well plotted and a variety of interesting characters, not the least the town itself and The Sun Down Motel.

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