I can’t even begin to tell you how much of a fan I am of Simone St James! I have read every single one of her books and she is absolutely an auto buy author for me. I had her latest novel pre ordered for MONTHS in advance. I am just a massive fan girl. Her books (especially the more recent ones) are the perfect mix of murder, ghosts, horror, and gothic. I can’t say enough good things about her books just read them if you haven’t already! Especially the newest books like The Broken Girls and The Sun Down Motel.
I didn’t think a book could top The Broken Girls and then along came The Sun Down Motel. I loved them both for different reasons and then this book came along! Besides being a massive St James fan girl, the thing that drew me to this book was the setting! This book is set in Oregon and there is something about the Pac NW that really works for murder books!
Since I live in Oregon (which has been home to its fair share of serial killers) I was eager to see my state come alive under St James’s pen. Clear Lake Oregon (which is where the book is set) is both a fictional place and a real place if that makes sense. There isn’t a coastal town, or any town for that matter that is called Clear Lake as it is in the book, but there is an actual mountain lake called Clear Lake (which is stunning by the way and a must see if you travel to Oregon!). But even if it’s a fictional town, the accuracy and the haunting feel of the Pac NW was captured perfectly in this one and added so much to the atmosphere!
In 1977, Claire Lake, Oregon, was shaken by the Lady Killer Murders: Two men, seemingly randomly, were murdered with the same gun, with strange notes left behind. Beth Greer was the perfect suspect–a rich, eccentric twenty-three-year-old woman, seen fleeing one of the crimes. But she was acquitted, and she retreated to the isolation of her mansion.
Oregon, 2017. Shea Collins is a receptionist, but by night, she runs a true crime website, the Book of Cold Cases–a passion fueled by the attempted abduction she escaped as a child. When she meets Beth by chance, Shea asks her for an interview. To Shea’s surprise, Beth says yes.
They meet regularly at Beth’s mansion, though Shea is never comfortable there. Items move when she’s not looking, and she could swear she’s seen a girl outside the window. The allure of learning the truth about the case from the smart, charming Beth is too much to resist, but even as they grow closer, Shea senses something isn’t right. Is she making friends with a manipulative murderer, or are there other dangers lurking in the darkness of the Greer house?
A true crime blogger gets more than she bargained for while interviewing the woman acquitted of two cold case slayings in this chilling new novel from the New York Times bestselling author of The Sun Down Motel. (summary from Goodreads)
One of the things that St James does so well in all of her books is creating believable paranormal elements. All of her books have a very specific paranormal element and feel to them. Ghosts are a big part of her storytelling, but it doesn’t cross over into horror for me, it always stays firmly in paranormal and ghost stories. If you don’t love ghost stories then you probably won’t gravitate toward this author, however I encourage you to try it anyway. Her books contain murder and family drama/secrets so there is plenty other parts of the story to love and be sucked in by. When I first read her book The Broken Girls, I wasn’t really into paranormal or ghost story books but there was such a good mix of murder mystery and family drama/secrets with a splash of ghosts that I found myself staying up so late to read it! I promise there is a lot to enjoy in all of her books even if ghosts aren’t your thing.
This book was a little slower paced than some of her other books but there was plenty of foreshadowing and subtle tension/buildup that I was sucked in and invested in the characters and they story quickly. I mean honestly you had me at Lady Killer Murders! I loved serial killer stories and this one features a modern element of a true crime blogger which is a popular approach in thrillers right now but in this book felt appropriate and interesting. If you love true crime podcasts, TV shows, or blogs you will find a lot to love here! I had goosebumps and was up late reading this book like I have with all her others. I couldn’t put it down once I started and even if this one read a little more slowly than some of her others there was so much suspense and the creep factor was big, I loved it!
I am partial to the setting of this book since I live in Oregon, but even if I didn’t live here I would still feel that the setting added a lot to this book. St James does a wonderful job using location and the mansion to add a rugged glamour to the book and I was proud of how my state was represented! I don’t want to give too much away of the story since it’s something you need to experience for yourself. Let’s just say it will be another book that I recommend to everyone I know! It was easily 5 stars even if it was a little slower at times, there was so much atmosphere, tension, and creep to satisfy even the most reluctant horror/paranormal reader! I loved the murder mystery and all the family drama, do yourself a favor and pick up this book as well as any of St James’s other books. All of them are great! I would say The Sun Down Motel is still my favorite but this one is coming hot for the top three spot!
Book Info and Rating
Hardcover, 352 pages
Published March 15th 2022 by Berkley
ISBN 0440000211 (ISBN13: 9780440000211)
Free review copy provided by publisher, Berkley, in exchange for an honest review. All opinions are my own and in no way influenced.
Rating: 5 stars
Genre: paranormal, horror, mystery