This week’s spring weather forecast of overcast, slightly chilly, and decidedly not sunny is the perfect time to read The Sun Down Motel. It reeks of this type of weather, even in it’s happier parts. And, since this is a murder mystery complete with ghosts roaming a run-down motel, you kind of get the feeling there aren’t that many happy moments, and you’d be right. In 1982, on a rainy night, Viv Delaney walked into her midnight shift at the Sun Down Motel and was never seen again. Years later, her niece Carly is in Fells, New York, after abruptly leaving college. The plan is to go back, but she can’t focus since the recent death of her mother and her aunt’s disappearance all those years ago is something that’s always on her mind. She’s obviously never met her but can’t stop that niggling feeling that she needs to be here. To figure out what the police didn’t, can’t, or won’t. Just a few hours in her new town, she has a job at the Sun Down (the same shift her aunt had), a new roommate, and a place to start.
The story goes back and forth between the two girls, almost the same age, working the same job, and seeing the same things. Like ghosts. Like the boy who drowned in the swimming pool. The smoking ghost (no X-Files crossover here) and the woman who gets seriously ticked off at seemingly random moments. Viv, in her time, also learns of the young women who’ve been raped and murdered in the last five years in Fell. No one seems to think there is a connection, but Viv can’t help but think there is. She spends her off time at the Fell's public library, writing down her findings in her journal. In Carly’s time, her days are spent doing very similar things. As both girls race to find out the truth, the ghosts of the Sun Down are getting stronger and more restless. I will have to say that I was never completely freaked out by these ghosts; I also wasn’t working there overnight in the middle of nowhere either. Basically, if you aren’t the type to read because of ghosts, don’t let them detract you.
The Sun Down Motel is the perfect blend of a creepy, murder mystery, and that always present rule that girls learn early on about staying safe when they are alone. The story had a slightly slow start for me, but when the pieces started coming together, I was thoroughly engaged and happily rewarded. This is not a YA novel, and some adult content exists (not too heavy/graphic), but it would absolutely appeal to those looking for a different kind of mystery. The audio was dual narrated and well done. If you enjoy this title, I suggest you read The Broken Girls by the same author.