Midnight at the Bright Ideas Bookstore by Matthew J. Sullivan

Posted June 6, 2017 by Minx

This review is based on a complimentary book I received from NetGalley. It is an honest and voluntary review. The complimentary receipt of it in no way affected my review or rating.

Midnight at the Bright Ideas Bookstore by Matthew J. Sullivan Midnight at the Bright Ideas Bookstore by Matthew J. Sullivan
Genres: Mystery
Release Date: June 13, 2017
Publisher: Scribner
Format: ARC, E-book
Source: NetGalley
Pages: 336
ISBN: 1501116843
Purchase at: Amazon Barnes & Noble Book Depository Google Play Kobo IndieBound
Minx's Rating:

When a bookshop patron commits suicide, it’s his favorite store clerk who 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 McGinty, a young, beguiling BookFrog, kills himself in the bookstore’s back 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.​


As a book reviewer, I am almost always drawn to stories involving bookstores or libraries. When I came across Midnight at the Bright Ideas Bookstore I was of course drawn to it. Adding the murder-mystery just made it even more enticing. Also helps that the cover is very eye catching. What I thought was going to be a cozy mystery turned into a true murder-mystery style story with red herrings, loss, and life not turning out how you want it to.

The character of Lydia Smith is a troubled young woman who has hidden herself away from society. She has been working at the bookstore for years and has friendships with her co-workers and that is pretty much it. She also has befriended those patrons she warmly refers to as the BookFrogs. This story revolves around her trying to understand why one of her “bookfrogs” ended his life. Through her investigation into his life, her past, something she has desperately tried to keep a secret, has come back to haunt her. As her present and her past come to a head she must face some awful truths and in the end, solve the mystery of “Why did Joey end his life?” It is a heart-wrenching tale that will engage you from the start.

I loved the writing from this author! Just wonderful! I was able to fully visualize everything that was intended and it gave all the emotional tugs. I was expecting a light story but this was a story that became continually darker as they it went on. This is not the type of book that ends all wrapped in a bright shiny bow. In fact, the ending left me slightly sad but it was the perfect ending for these characters. I highly recommend this book because there are many fabulous pieces that will awe you as well as characters that are real and well developed. It was a fast read that I did not want to put down!

*Thank you to NetGalley & Scribner for this eARC of Midnight at the Bright Ideas Bookstore*

About Matthew J. Sullivan

Author Matthew J. Sullivan

Matthew Sullivan received his MFA from the University of Idaho and has been a resident writer at Yaddo, Centrum, and the Vermont Studio Center. His short stories have been awarded the Robert Olen Butler Fiction Prize and the Florida Review Editor’s Prize for Fiction and have been published in many journals, including The Chattahoochee Review, Painted Bride Quarterly, Fugue, Evansville Review, and 580-Split. In addition to working for years at Tattered Cover Book Store in Denver and at Brookline Booksmith in Boston, he currently teaches writing, literature, and film at Big Bend Community College in the high desert of Washington State. The author of Midnight at the Bright Ideas Bookstore, he is married to a librarian and has two children.

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