Review: MIDNIGHT AT THE BRIGHT IDEAS BOOKSTORE by Matthew J. Sullivan

Janelle Book Reviews, Literary Fiction, Mystery, Page Habit, Scribner Books 0 Comments

Summary (from Amazon):

When a bookshop patron commits suicide, his favorite store clerk must unravel the puzzle he left behind in this fiendishly clever debut novel from an award-winning short story writer.

Lydia Smith lives her life hiding in plain sight. A clerk at the Bright Ideas bookstore, she keeps a meticulously crafted existence among her beloved books, eccentric colleagues, and the BookFrogs—the lost and lonely regulars who spend every day marauding the store’s overwhelmed shelves.

But when Joey Molina, a young, beguiling BookFrog, kills himself in the bookstore’s upper room, Lydia’s life comes unglued. Always Joey’s favorite bookseller, Lydia has been bequeathed his meager worldly possessions. Trinkets and books; the detritus of a lonely, uncared for man. But when Lydia flips through his books she finds them defaced in ways both disturbing and inexplicable. They reveal the psyche of a young man on the verge of an emotional reckoning. And they seem to contain a hidden message. What did Joey know? And what does it have to do with Lydia?

As Lydia untangles the mystery of Joey’s suicide, she unearths a long buried memory from her own violent childhood. Details from that one bloody night begin to circle back. Her distant father returns to the fold, along with an obsessive local cop, and the Hammerman, a murderer who came into Lydia’s life long ago and, as she soon discovers, never completely left. Bedazzling, addictive, and wildly clever, Midnight at the Bright Ideas Bookstore is a heart-pounding mystery that perfectly captures the intellect and eccentricity of the bookstore milieu and will keep you guessing until the very last page.​

“All words are masks, and the lovelier they are, the more they are meant to conceal.”

My Review:

This is such a dark and twisty story. Lydia Smith is a clerk at the Bright Ideas Bookstore. She loves her job, loves being among the patrons (her BookFrogs) who spend their days in the shop. One night, as she closes up, she finds one of the patrons, Joey Molina, committed suicide. She then finds a picture in his pocket that forces her to revisit a terrible tragedy in her past. Joey left his possessions to Lydia, which are clues to a puzzle she needs to solve. I absolutely ADORED this book! It was so different from other mysteries I’ve read – in fact it reads more like a literary novel with thrilling elements of intrigue and mystery. I really loved Sullivan’s beautiful writing and the way he developed each and every character. It’s nicely paced with lots of twists that will keep you guessing until the end. I mean… a MYSTERY based on BOOKS… in a BOOKSTORE… It’s a MUST READ for sure!!

I rated it a WONDERFUL 4 / 5 stars!

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