Title: Midnight at the Bright Ideas Bookstore
Author: Matthew Sullivan
Publication Date: June 13, 2017
Rating: ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ / 5
From Simon & Schuster: 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.
My Review: When I saw the cover of MIDNIGHT AT THE BRIGHT IDEAS BOOKSTORE I knew I had to read this book. I seldom select a book solely on the merits of its cover but this one suggests a certain quality of writing and Sullivan delivers a bright idea! A bookstore mystery flanked by eccentric characters and a twisty plot – readers rejoice!
I adore books that are a genre mish-mash because they elicit a wide range of feelings and emotions and BRIGHT IDEAS is the perfect blend of fiction sub genres – literary, psychological and suspense. Sullivan’s characters are descriptive, moving and engaging. Lydia is a bibliophile at heart and works at the Bright Ideas bookstore in Denver. She forges relationships with the BookFrogs (lonely & disadvantaged) and is a special kind of person whose compassion and humanity shine thru. Her world is turned upside down when her beloved BookFrog, Joey commits suicide after hours at Bright Ideas. He bequeaths his meager possessions to Lydia amongst which include several books containing cryptic messages. These messages give Lydia insight not only to Joey’s suicide but take her back to her best childhood friends, Carol and Raj and the horrific Hammerman crime she narrowly escaped when she was ten years old. Sullivan brilliantly crafts a multilayered plot weaving together a present day suicide with a gruesome murder from the past that ties an entire cast of characters together.
As a former Denver resident Sullivan’s homage to Denver is spot on! I was taken on a journey down memory lane visiting The Tattered Cover Bookstore in LoDo, driving on Speer Blvd., and riding the 15 on Colfax to name a few. These details made me love BRIGHT IDEAS that much more!