cover image The Sun Down Motel

The Sun Down Motel

Simone St. James. Berkley, $26 (336p) ISBN 978-0-440-00017-4

In this engrossing supernatural thriller from St. James (The Broken Girls), 20-year-old Carly Kirk sets out from her Illinois hometown determined to find some answers 35 years after her aunt Viv Delaney vanished while working the night shift at a seedy upstate New York motel. What Carly discovers fairly rapidly in decaying Fell, N.Y., where she signs on for the not surprisingly vacant graveyard slot at the spooky Sun Down Motel, is that she may be tackling a much bigger mystery—the never-solved cluster of murders of local young women preceding Viv’s disappearance. It’s a puzzle her aunt may also have been trying to solve. St. James approaches the chilling central conundrum from dual directions, alternating stretches of Carly’s investigation with flashbacks to Viv’s nightmarish experiences at the haunted motel. Suspense mounts as both characters put themselves in peril. Though the story’s spectral aspects may strike some as heavy-handed, there’s no doubt about the shocking, satisfying denouement. Horror fans will also want to check this one out. Agent: Pamela Hopkins, Hopkins Literary Assoc. (Feb.)