Fiction Friday
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Simone St. James returns with a dank and creepy roadside motel in upstate New York, a cold case, and dual timelines, plus its loose connection to Bates Motel, murder, ghosts, and serial killers

By Leslie Lindsay 

An atmospheric and troubling mystery set in upstate New York at a run-down roadside motel teeming with ghosts–both literal and figurative. 



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 national bestselling and award-winning author of THE BROKEN GIRLS. 

New York Times 

USA Today Bestseller 

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, NY. But something isn’t 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 to 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.

Fell is an out-of-time small town in upstate NY where girls grow up being warned by their mothers to be careful or they will end up like Cathy Caldwell, the girl who was murdered and found under an overpass, or Victoria Lee who was killed and dumped on a jogging trail on the edge of town. There are a lot of dead girls in Fell.

But why does Carly Kirk seem so haunted by this town? Why does she leave her hometown in Illinois to relocate to Fell? visit to town. Before Carly was even born her aunt Viv worked the night-shift at the Sun Down motel. And then went missing.  Using a small inheritance from her deceased mother, Carly leaves college for Fell in the hopes that she will figure out what happened to her aunt thirty-five years ago.

powered on red motel signage

Photo by Pedro Sandrini on

“Deliciously creepy. A chilling blend of mystery and ghost story that will thrill fans of both.”

—Riley Sager, New York Times bestselling author of Lock Every Door

As Carly uncovers more about the mysterious happenings at the motel and Fell’s secrets, she discovers that Viv had been trying to unravel mysteries of her own—including a possible serial killer working in Fell targeting women. If Carly can find the answers Viv was searching for, she might be able to solve the mystery that has haunted her family for years. But as Carly digs deeper, she puts herself in front of the same dangers that faced her aunt all those years ago.

THE SUN DOWN MOTEL (Feb 18 2020, Berkley/PRH) is scary and propulsive; you’ll find yourself connecting the dots while simultaneously never wanting the ride to end.


Artistic cover image of book designed and photographed by me, Leslie Lindsay. Follow on Instagram @leslielindsay1 #alwayswithabook #alwaysreading for more like this.

For more information, to connect with Simone St. James via social media, or to purchase a copy of THE SUN DOWN MOTEL, please visit: 

Read an excerpt!

ORder Links: 


You may also like THE CHILL by Scott Carson, also set in upstate New York with supernatural elements and a ‘retro’ feel. Stephanie Wrobel’s debut DARLING ROSE GOLD offers many similar elements of mystery and dread. Also check out: I’LL BE GONE IN THE DARK, a dash of BATES MOTEL.

FBprofilepicABOUT THE AUTHOR: After years of writing and collecting rejections, Simone St. James’ debut novel, THE HAUNTING OF MADDY CLARE, won two RITA Awards from Romance Writers of America and an Arthur Ellis Award from Crime Writers of Canada. AN INQUIRY INTO LOVE AND DEATH was nominated for another Arthur Ellis Award, and SILENCE FOR THE DEAD was shortlisted for a Goodreads Choice Award.

Simone spent twenty years behind the scenes in the television business before leaving to write full-time. She lives just outside Toronto, Canada, with her husband and a spoiled rescue cat. She is addicted to sushi, old 1970’s gothic novels, rainy days, coffee, and My Favorite Murder. You can find her on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Goodreads, and Pinterest (though not all at once). 

You can connect with me, Leslie Lindsay, via these websites: 

I hope you do!


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Leslie Lindsay is the award-winning author of SPEAKING OF APRAXIA (Woodbine House, 2012). Her work has been published in Pithead ChapelCommon Ground ReviewCleaver Magazine (craft and CNF), The Awakenings Review, The Nervous Breakdown, Ruminate’s The WakingBrave Voices Literary MagazineManifest-Station, and others. She has been awarded as one of the top 1% reviewers on GoodReads and recognized by Jane Friedman as one of the most influential book reviewers. Since 2013, Leslie has interviewed over 700 bestselling and debut authors on her author interview series. Follow her bookstagram posts @leslielindsay1.


#fiction #mystery #domesticsuspense #paranormal #supernatural #motels #missinggirls #serialkillers #coldcases #NewYork #alwayswithabook 


[Cover and author image courtesy of PRH and used with permission. Author photo cred: Lauren Perry. Artistic cover image of book designed and photographed by me, Leslie Lindsay. Follow on Instagram @leslielindsay1 #alwayswithabook for more like this]



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