The Sun Down Motel

By: Simone St. James

Vivian Delany disappeared one night in 1982 from the Sun Down Motel and was never seen again. Assumed dead for the last thirty-five years, her niece Carly has come to Fell, New York to discover what happened to her long-lost aunt. Unbeknownst to Carly, she will fall into the same lifestyle and routine as Viv had all those years ago. With the killer still on the loose, Carly will soon discover that she should tread carefully in her search.

I joined Book of the Month, and this was the first book I ever picked. I get to review this book before the official release date of Feb 20th because the club offers perks like receiving pre-releases, so that’s pretty cool. Too bad this book wasn’t that great. I could have lived without reading this and been perfectly fine. I’m not saying it was “terrible” but I’m not saying it was “decent” either.

There are so many parts to this story that were either too convenient or overly repetitive, and I’m honestly sad about that. This story had me in the beginning with intrigue and ghosts. I had a glimmer of hope that maybe I could get that rare instance of reading two five-star books in a row. No such luck.

Very soon into the story, I realized that the gimmick the author relied on was showing the comparison between Viv and Carly in a way that was too on the nose. They act the same, think the same, live the same, and ultimately have similar friends. Even the romantic interests were the same. How does that even happen? I can respect a subtle comparison between two characters, but why make it to where they are copies of each other? You end up reading pretty much the same story twice which doesn’t make for a compelling read, and I soon grew bored.

Even the ghosts serve almost no purpose except to get the plot rolling, yet they stay in the foreground of the story. Not a good place to be when you are a Macguffin, at least not in my personal opinion. Additionally, the references all over the place to Stephen King were too close to home. I think the author was using those nods to him to create a connection with the reader. It’s fun if it’s only mentioned once, but references to him were scattered throughout the story. Writing 101: don’t make references to other authors in your work because it pulls your reader out of your world and puts them in someone else’s. I would rather have been reading King.

Also, why was Viv’s perspective written in the third person while Carly’s was written in first? That felt…weird. Like Carly was retelling Viv’s story when she wasn’t.

Really the only thing about this story that I found memorable was the true-crime hunters aspect. That was fun and at least a more interesting plot point since there are a lot of amateur detectives out there who talk about true-crime stories. Look at all the podcasts. That’s Why We Drink is my personal favorite.

Maybe this story was just a commentary on our society’s morbid fascination with murder. Aha, solved the mystery!

Overall rating: 3

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