The Sun Down Motel Book Review: A Murder Mystery And Ghost Story That Haunts

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The Sun Down Motel is a ghost story that will make you never think of old motels the same.

It is chilling for two reasons: it is equal parts crime story meets equal parts ghost story-making. That makes it the perfect recipe for a spooky read.

Just about everyone has stayed in a seedy-looking motel and can envision The Sun Down in all its rundown glory—complete with its vibrant neon light once the sun sets. Like a beacon against the black nothingness that stretches out for miles, it seems to lure in the curious. This includes  one of the main characters Carly, as well as creatures of the night.

book review

The author Simon St. James really brings this motel to life with the dead in a way that will you thinking twice when going out to vending machine at your next motel stay alone.

Here is the synopsis of The Sun Down Motel:

Something hasn’t been right at the roadside Sun Down Motel for a very long time, and Carly Kirk is about to find out why in this chilling new novel from the USA Today bestselling and award-winning author of The Broken Girls.

Upstate New York, 1982. Viv Delaney wants to move to New York City, and to help pay for it she takes a job as the night clerk at the Sun Down Motel in Fell, New York. But something isnʼt right at the motel, something haunting and scary.

Upstate New York, 2017. Carly Kirk has never been able to let go of the story of her aunt Viv, who mysteriously disappeared from the Sun Down before she was born. She decides to move to Fell and visit the motel, where she quickly learns that nothing has changed since 1982. And she soon finds herself ensnared in the same mysteries that claimed her aunt.

In short, my review of this book can be boiled down to one statement: read The Sun Down Motel if you are a crime fan.

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The Characters

Both main characters are relatable and the reader quickly joins their team. Throughout the book, the reader learns that both women are on the same path—and since we know that aunt Viv is missing this road can only lead to trouble for Carly.

It isn’t hard to remember which narrator you are on if you stop mid-chapter and pick it back up. This happened once or twice for me, but nothing that kept me lost for more than a few sentences while remembering where I left off.

There are also seem really good other characters. Expect a hardworking cop, a love interest, and a psychopath or two. And those are just the living ones. The ghosts are interesting and spooky, without feeling too far fetched although it can get very The Shining up at The Sun Down. So expect doors to open and lights to go out—especially when they are mad.

The Spook Factor: Murder And Ghosts

It isn’t an “I can’t read this alone at night” vibe, so don’t expect to be terrified but there were times I was at least chilled.

The crime aspect of the story is scarier than the ghosts. The more I progressed reading The Sun Down, the more unsettling it became. Just like Viv and Carly, the reader starts to become engrossed in the murders of these girls. It’s dark and heavy at times the more you get into the story.

Murder fiction fans will play who done it in their head with the main characters and then enjoy the goose chase.

But St. James balances it the heavy subject matter well with scenes that aren’t light but are more about the investigation than the murdering or missing girl element. So it isn’t a depressing read, it’s more of a need to keep reading more to find out just what will happen read.

I will admit that there was a time in the thick of things where reading late at night in my silent house all alone did give me the jeebies. And I won’t even stay at a seedy motel alone ever.

A Good Read

sundown review

What I loved most about this book is that there is no predictability here. Just when you think you know who did and what might’ve gone down, you learn you are wrong. And when you raise another suspicion, you learn you are wrong again.

And this happens even after a major plot point is revealed.

I love a story that keeps me guessing.

By the last 100 plus pages the pacing speeds up, or it might be the fact that by then I really couldn’t stop turning pages. But The Sun Down Motel is defiantly a good read that has the reader hooked and checked in until the conclusion.

Get a copy of The Sun Down Motel by Simone St. Jameson Amazon as a hardcore book or for the kindle here or get it as an add-on as part of Book of the Month here (this was one of January’s reads) and join me on reading a new book (or 2) each month.

That Runner Mom Rating:

Out of a bronze, silver, or gold medal, The Sun Down Gets the GOLD.


Don’t forget to get a copy of my children’s book, Ready, Set Run!


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