Publisher: Level Best Books, IBPA, Members’ Titles
Date of publication: October 24th, 2023
Genre: Mystery, Thriller, Suspense, Fiction
Series: Mess Hopkins
Sanctuary Motel—Book 1
Mess Hopkins, proprietor of the seen-better-days Fairfax Manor Inn, never met a person in need who couldn’t use a helping hand—his helping hand. So he’s thrown open the doors of the motel to the homeless, victims of abuse, or anyone else who could benefit from a comfy bed with clean sheets and a roof overhead. This rankles his parents and uncle, who technically still own the place and are more concerned with profits than philanthropy.
When a mother and her teenage boy seek refuge from an abusive husband, Mess takes them in until they can get back on their feet. Shortly after arriving, the mom goes missing and some very bad people come sniffing around, searching for money they claim belongs to them. Mess tries to pump the boy for helpful information, but he’s in full uncooperative teen mode—grunts, shrugs, and monosyllabic answers. From what he does learn, Mess can tell he’s not getting the straight scoop. It’s not long before the boy vanishes too. Abducted? Run away? Something worse? And who took the missing money? Mess, along with his friend Vell Jackson and local news reporter Lia Katsaros, take to the streets to locate the missing mother and son—and the elusive, abusive husband—before the kneecapping loansharks find them first.
When I thought of an inn, I pictured a solid structure, built with chiseled stone or sturdy weathered wood, situated on the side of a mountain or on a bluff overlooking a craggy shoreline, the kind of homey place where a rosy-cheeked lady wearing a cable-knit sweater checked you in and escorted you to your room.Santucary Motel by Alan Orloff
Mess Hopkins is the proprietor of The Fairfax Manor, a slightly run-down 14-room motel in the city of Fairfax, Virginia. While not good on the business end for the motel, Mess has earned a reputation for keeping people safe and helping them out. His willingness to help brings Nicole and her fifteen-year-old son, Kevin, to The Fairfax Motel. She is escaping an abusive relationship and needs a place to hide until it is safe. But Nicole goes missing shortly after arriving, leaving Mess to care for a teenage boy. Coinciding with Nicole’s disappearance, several people show up at the motel, destroy the room she was in, and leave an ominous message. It is up to Mess and his vast network of friends to find out where Nicole is, who is behind her disappearance, and why. Can Mess do it without risking his business and his life?
When I was approached to read and review Sanctuary Motel, I wasn’t taking review requests because of a considerable backlog of ARCs that I have. But, since I have reviewed for the author before, I decided to accept the request. I had enjoyed his last book (a YA thriller mystery) and figured I would like this one. Well, I was right; I enjoyed this book.
Sanctuary Motel is the first book in the Mess Hopkins series. Because this is the first book in the series, you don’t have to read previous books to understand what is going on.
The main storyline for Sanctuary Motel centers around Mess, the motel, Nicole and Kevin, their situation, and the mystery that unfolds. It was a sharply written storyline that did take some time to get going. But I didn’t mind that. The author was setting up Mess’s background and relationship with the book’s other characters. By the middle of the book, it did pick up steam and continued at a medium pace until the end.
The mystery angle of the Sanctuary Motel was well written. I did figure out who didn’t have Nicole after she disappeared. But, I was surprised at who did have her. What also surprised me was who was behind everything and where the money was.
I liked Mess, but man, he was a, well, a mess. He made avoidance an art (poor Cesar). But he had a huge heart, and I did agree with his philosophy. His vast circle of found family seemed to grow with every page. His immediate family were, for the most part, jerks (I didn’t like his uncle or brother-in-law).
Kevin tugged at my heartstrings. As a fifteen-year-old boy’s mother, I laughed over how much Kevin was eating during the book. He had a hollow leg. But he was also damaged. What he heard and saw between his mother and her ex was awful. And I get why he did what he did at the end of the book.
The secondary characters added extra depth to the storylines and the book’s main character. Some I liked (Mama and Vell), some I didn’t know what to think about (Cesar), and others I couldn’t stand (the brother-in-law and Nicole’s ex-husband).
The end of Sanctuary Motel was typical, except for who was ultimately revealed to be the bad guy. As I said above, I did not expect that person to be exposed for who and what they were. It took me by surprise.
I would recommend Sanctuary Motel to anyone over 16. There is language and violence but no sexual situations.
Many thanks to Level Best Books, Independent Book Publishers Association (IBPA), Member’s Titles, NetGalley, and Alan Orloff for allowing me to read and review this ARC copy of Sanctuary Motel. All opinions stated in this review are mine.
If you enjoy reading books like Sanctuary Motel, then you will enjoy these books:
Other books by Alan Orloff