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Midnight at the Bright Ideas Bookstore

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When a bookshop patron commits suicide, his favorite store clerk must unravel the puzzle he left behind. 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.

328 pages, Hardcover

First published June 13, 2017

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About the author

Matthew J. Sullivan

3 books670 followers
Matthew Sullivan grew up in a family of eight children in suburban Denver, Colorado. He received his B.A. from the University of San Francisco, his M.F.A. from the University of Idaho. His writing has been nominated for the Pushcart Prize and has won the Florida Review Editor's Prize and the Robert Olen Butler Fiction Prize. In addition to working for years at Tattered Cover Book Store in Denver and at Brookline Booksmith in Boston, he has taught writing and literature at colleges in Boston, Idaho, and Poland, and currently teaches writing, literature, and film at Big Bend Community College in the high desert of Washington State. He is married to a librarian, Libby, and has two children and a scruffy dog named Ernie. He lives in Anacortes, WA, where he writes and teaches.

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5 stars
6,510 (19%)
4 stars
16,407 (48%)
3 stars
9,449 (27%)
2 stars
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277 (<1%)
Displaying 1 - 30 of 5,510 reviews
Profile Image for Chelsea Humphrey.
1,439 reviews78.1k followers
April 22, 2018
Have you ever been scouring Goodreads and notice a particular book continues to pop up on your feed? Maybe it starts slowly, just a glance here or there, but then turns into a full blown case of THE book everyone has just finished reading. That’s what happened to me with Midnight at the Bright Ideas Bookstore. In an attempt to be a good girl and show some restraint of my NetGalley clicking finger, I had passed early on and immediately regretted it. Miracles do happen and I received a second chance with a hardcover that was cryptically wrapped in caution tape; I was immediately intrigued and decided that I had to read it straight away. I’m really glad I did, as this was such an intoxicating book; it was the kind that’s eerie aura stays with you long past turning the final page.

Going in, I wasn’t entirely sure what to expect. I had heard from various sources that this was a mystery, a thriller, and many other sub genres, and while it does hold aspects of both, I felt this would be most at home in literary fiction. The story vacillated between bright, intellectual dialogue and dark, graphic plot progression. I honestly cannot think of a single book to compare it to, which is why I was so impressed and found it so wholly unique. At risk of sounding like a sadist, one of my favorite parts of the book was the manner in which the gruesome murder scene with The Hammerman was portrayed; we see and hear events through the eyes of a 10 year old child. This was a bold, risky move and it worked well in progressing the storyline while firmly grasping our attention throughout.

We do spend part of the book balancing past and present narratives, and initially I was more interested in Lydia’s childhood and backstory than in the opening mystery surrounding Joey’s suicide. This quickly changed once the two were intertwined, which also helped the last half of the book progress much more quickly than the first half. The cryptic messages that Joey left behind were a nice touch; I heartily enjoyed trying to solve the pages of broken text before reading the correct answer that followed alongside Lydia and her eccentric acquaintances. I was fully invested in the broken relationship between Lydia and her father; both characters had survived far more trauma than any one person should have to endure in their life. While each character was written in the most excellent form, I felt those two were the shining stars of our tale and I could have read a book solely on the turmoil between the two.

This story was so many things; while it was weighted with a heavy sadness, it was equal parts dry humor and wit. Where it held dark content and depressing plot twists, it also manifested hopeful themes of forgiveness and uplifting lessons of life being what you choose it to be. Finally, while it may have slowed in a few spots, it was a worthy read and one I won’t soon forget. Highly recommended to readers of literary fiction who are wanting to branch out briefly into the mystery/thriller genre while staying within their comfort zone. Sullivan’s writing was moving and convinced me he must be a father himself; I can’t imagine anyone writing such a book without the experience of loving a child to inspire it. With the inside story being as captivating as the outside cover, I think readers will be pleased and moved by how the author chooses to take many timely issues and subtly place them in the narrative for pondering beyond the immediate tale.

*Many thanks to the publisher for providing my copy; it was a pleasure to provide my honest thoughts here.

Profile Image for Paromjit.
2,603 reviews24.8k followers
July 27, 2017
This is a moving, multilayered, imaginative, brilliant, literary mystery novel set amidst the background of a bookstore, book lovers and books, set in Denver, Colorado. The compassionate and sensitive Lydia is a book clerk at the Bright Ideas Bookstore inhabited by her beloved bookfrogs. One night, one of her favourite bookfrogs, Joey, hangs himself in the history section. A shell shocked Lydia is bewildered when she finds a photograph of a birthday party when she was 10 years old with her friends, the steadfast Raj and the wild whirlwind that was Carol. How is it Joey has it? Bequeathed Joey's meager belongings, Lydia finds books with cut out windows that link with other books providing cryptic clues. She deciphers the code with the help of her friends, and they turn out to be messages from beyond the grave for her and provide heartbreaking insights into who Joey is and his tormented life. This is a story of relationships, loss, trauma, family, a search for a place to belong, identity, grief and secrets.

A photograph of Joey's suicide in the national media has Lydia in it, it is seen by those from her haunted past. This includes her estranged father, Tomas, retired Detective Moberg, and her childhood friend, Raj, all of whom re-enter her life. A famous photograph of a desperately traumatised Lydia at 10 years old shows her at the scene of the macabre murders of an entire family. Lydia has been silencing her past with a determination that borders on obsession, her boyfriend, David has no idea of her notorious history. Joey's death begins to slowly open the door to break the silence on what happened all those years ago, the terrifying nightmares of The Hammerman, and the younger Lydia's penchant for seeking the cupboard under the sink. The narrative takes us back to the past, Lydia's history as a child and her friendships, and the repercussions of the terrible events that take place which lead to relocation, the shock of her father becoming a corrections officer and the consequent change in his personality. In the present, Lydia is forced to confront the pain of her past in her search for Joey, and to face up to her demons in the closet.

As I reflect on my experience of reading this novel, I am struck by just how ingenious Matthew Sullivan is in his intricate and complex plotting, and in his atmospherically bleak narrative. His love of books is unmistakable, as he uses them as the medium to define characters, to provide clues and mystery, and give a focal bookstore background for Lydia and her array of eccentric bookfrogs. There is real expertise in the character development and the slow reveals of exactly who these people are and the connections between them. This is one of those books that I cannot recommend highly enough! Many thanks to Random House Cornerstone for an ARC.
Profile Image for Jennifer Masterson.
200 reviews1,131 followers
July 26, 2017
5 Unexpectedly Wonderful Stars! I absolutely loved this little gem of a novel! I listened to the audio. The narrator didn't grab me at first but the story did and within a half hour of audio I was hooked! This novel is tough to describe because it's unlike anything I've ever read. I never expected this book to have so much dark to it and take so many unexpected twists! Suicide, murder, books and so much more! Wow! Just wow!

The characters in this novel were very well developed and fleshed out! I just loved Lydia! This book was so well written and very easy to follow. Which is a big plus while listening to audio.

This is one of my favorites of 2017! If it wasn't for my Goodreads Friends I would never have picked this book. It deserves way more hype!

Read it and discuss it with me later! So good!!!
Profile Image for Larry H.
2,484 reviews29.4k followers
May 9, 2017
I'd rate this 4.5 stars. Nearly 5.

How do you select the books you're going to read? Oftentimes I'm drawn to books written by authors I love (and sometimes I decide to give an author another shot), and other times I choose books and/or authors which have been hyped or those about which I've heard good feedback. And then sometimes, it's something intangible, like the cover design catches my eye, so it leads me to read the description, and I'm hooked.

This is the crazy way my mind worked when I decided to read Matthew Sullivan's terrific Midnight at the Bright Ideas Bookstore : I used to work in a bookstore, I love going to bookstores, and I really enjoyed Mr. Penumbra's 24-Hour Bookstore (see my original review), one of the last books I read which took place in a bookstore. The gamble definitely paid off with this one—while it wasn't what I was expected, it was so much more.

Lydia is a bookseller at Denver's Bright Ideas Bookstore. Not only is she excellent at her job because she's well-read and perfectly satisfied to work where she is, she's tremendously patient with a group of people she calls the BookFrogs—the downtrodden, sometimes homeless regulars (most often men) who make the bookstore their surrogate home.

"Lydia's skills as a bookseller came mainly, she believed, from her ability to listen. A raging case of bibliophilia certainly helped, as did limited financial needs, but it was her capacity to be politely trapped by others that really sealed her professional fate. From bus stops to parties to the floors of the store, Lydia was the model of a Good Listener—a sounding board for one and all. Strangers and acquaintances and the occasional friend unloaded on her by the hour..."

One night, just as the store was closing, Lydia finds Joey, the youngest, most sensitive and inquisitive BookFrog, with whom Lydia has struck up a friendship of sorts, has committed suicide on the store's top floor. She knew that Joey had had his problems in the past, but he never seemed desperate enough to consider suicide. When she finds out that Joey has bequeathed Lydia his meager possessions—mostly a few random items and a milk crate full of books, most of which he bought from the store, she is saddened for the path his life took. But as she flips through his books, she discovered that pages in each were defaced, as if he was sending Lydia coded messages of some kind.

As Lydia tries to figure out what Joey was trying to tell her, she also finds among Joey's possessions an item from her own childhood, something she cannot figure out how he would have gotten. You see, Lydia has her own secrets as well, basically a childhood tragedy that has caused her to keep everyone, even her boyfriend, at arm's length, and never let them truly know who she is and what she has been through.

The messages in Joey's books, along with the resurgence of her own memories and insecurities, leave her on edge, a condition further exacerbated by the reappearance of one of her childhood best friends, as well as a dogged police detective and her estranged father. She is determined to find out what Joey was asking of her, and she realizes she needs to get answers to the questions that have haunted her own life since she was younger, even if that means reliving an experience that still chills her.

While this book is billed as a mystery, and there certainly are suspenseful elements of the plot, there is so much more to the story. This is a book about giving people a chance no matter who they are or what their background is. It's a book about friendship, sacrifice, the need to feel wanted and loved, the danger of secrets, the grief we keep hidden inside, and how the love of books can truly be pervasive. I found this book so surprising and so moving—even as I figured out how the plot would unfold I was so invested in Sullivan's characters I couldn't stop reading.

Midnight at the Bright Ideas Bookstore is really a special book, and Sullivan is truly talented as a storyteller. Because it straddles a few genres, I hope it doesn't get lost in the shuffle, because this is a fantastic read—full of emotion, a little suspense, and a lot of heart.

NetGalley and Scribner provided me an advance copy of the book in exchange for an unbiased review. Thanks for making this available!

See all of my reviews at http://itseithersadnessoreuphoria.blo....
Profile Image for Julie .
4,028 reviews58.9k followers
August 19, 2017
Midnight at the Bright Ideas Bookstore by Matthew Sullivan is a Scribner publication.

Ingenious! This book was everything I hoped it would be!

This book starts off on a shocking note, with the suicide death of Joey Molina. Joey hung himself right there in the Bright Ideas Bookstore and poor Lydia was the one who discovered his body.

For Lydia, Joey’s sudden death opens a Pandora’s box from her past. It all starts to unravel when her picture appears in the newspaper, and with the discovery she was bequeathed all of Joey’s earthly possessions.

Lydia is deliberately living a low -key life, enjoying her work as a clerk at the Bright Ideas Bookstore. Her childhood was marred by a horrific incident and the only way to avoid the stigma is to lay low.

But, now that her whereabouts are known, people from her past begin to seek her out- her estranged father, a detective with an unhealthy obsession, and her old childhood friend, Raj.

But, most of Lydia’s spare time is occupied by the puzzling clues Joey has left behind, which suggest Joey and Lydia are somehow connected. Joey’s coded messages could lead to the long overdue unmasking of a killer dubbed ‘The Hammerman’, who spared only one life in his rampage- Lydia’s.

Who can turn down the chance to read any book that is described as a ‘book about books’? That was a big draw for me when this book first showed up on my radar. That it also fell into the mystery/suspense genre made it all the more attractive.

From start to finish the story held me in rapt attention. The suspense slowly snuck up behind me, as the story gradually progressed from the mystery of Joey’s suicide and deciphering his codes, to morph into a rather chilling tale of a rampage killing, and cold case, that changed the course of Lydia’s life forever. As new details emerge, it appears that no one is what they seem, making it difficult to trust anyone.

The author has impeccable timing, doing an amazing job of dropping just the right amount of information, at just the right time, in order to keep the reader interested and full of anticipation, but keeping the most important facts close to the vest, so that it was next to impossible to guess who the killer was or what the motive might have been.

I found most of the characters intriguing and unique and nearly all of them were slightly quirky or offbeat, although I often found my inability to get a read on them frustrating at times. I can’t say I connected to any of them all that much, but understood why the author may have kept them at arm’s length.

Still, the story is incredibly absorbing and multi-layered, combining family dramas, friendship, psychological suspense, a horrifying cold case all together inside a ‘book about books’. Pretty nifty!

I enjoyed this imaginative and original mystery novel and do hope to see more books by this author in the near future.

4.5 stars
Profile Image for James.
Author 19 books3,575 followers
August 12, 2022
3 out of 5 stars to Midnight at the Bright Ideas Bookstore, a new mystery and thriller novel set to release on June 13, 2017, by author Matthew J. Sullivan.

Why This Book
For all us readers, who wouldn't love a book with such a title? And when you read the description, learning about a horrific murder from the past, a suicide in the present, and mysterious connections between all the characters, your intrigue and suspense spidey senses will climax. I found it on NetGalley and thought it sounded like a good debut author to take a chance on. And so, I requested it, got approved and dropped it into the reading schedule for this month... as it will be released to the general public in about 3 weeks.

Overview of Story
Lydia's mother died during childbirth, and she was raised by a father who knew next to nothing about being a parent. Refusing the help from any other family or friends, he did his best to raise his daughter, making a few mistakes along the way. During her childhood, Lydia befriends Raj, whose parents own and operate a Gas Station & Donut shop in their Colorado hometown. Lydia and Raj seem destined to be together in the future. When Raj and Lydia meet another young girl, the three try to maintain a friendship, but something disastrous takes place, changing the future of their lives.

Years later, Lydia works at a book store several towns away, but she no longer speaks with her father. One night, her friend Joey, a "BookFrog" released from prison for a childish prank that went wrong, commits suicide. He leaves behind a few clues and notes for her to find, which lead to her finding something that connects him to her past and the vicious murder of her friend and friend's parents. Lydia begins to realize her father may have been more involved than he led her to believe. Raj re-emerges in her life, and together, they try to track down Joey's biological family, in the hopes they can discover all the connections. And when they do, everything implodes on them.

Approach & Style
The story is told in past tense by a third person narrator, who follows Lydia around for most of the book. It jumps time frames from when she was about ten years old to the present, when she's in her thirties. The primary story is discovering who murdered Lydia's friend and her family, when Lydia was a child. It's also about learning who Joey was and why he chose to leave clues for Lydia about both of their pasts. There are a few romantic elements between Lydia and her current boyfriend, as well as Lydia and Raj, her childhood friend who stirs up feelings again in the future. Woven into the story is the common theme of how the characters all love books throughout their lives.

There are a lot of different connections between the primary 10 characters, and it keeps you wondering just enough to feel some suspense. The murder scene with the "Hammerman" is dark and grotesque, giving just enough to your imagination while revealing a few core details of the hammer's physical and emotional impact. I loved the scenes as children. I could see their friendship blossoming. I could sense the growth when meeting new people. I liked the father / daughter relationship. I felt a little slimy with the woman who seemed to sleep around a lot. Sullivan has great character descriptions and imagination. They all felt real, usually through their actions and with minimal physical descriptions.

Lydia is the primary character. She's strong-willed, but has had some issues with relationships throughout her life. I don't think she was as flushed out as a character as she should have been. There were a few holes surrounding: (a) why she and her father stopped speaking, (b) why she ran away, (c) why hasn't she had many relationships beyond the guy she's currently dating. It almost feels like there are some missing parts of her life which could have lead to the suspense of what happened all those years ago.

Joey dies almost immediately, so you don't get enough time with him. There are a few scenes that will immediately draw you to him, but not enough to warrant seeing him as a tragic man. He's suffered, and suffers a lot more when you learn in the last few chapters what became of him in the days leading up to his death; however, I wanted a longer story to have a better understanding of his lonely life.

Lydia's dad became a recluse too quickly, and I didn't buy his "love" for one of the other characters. Needed more story and detail around this section. He felt like two different people between where he began and how he ended.

Open Questions & Concerns
Although the motive and the killer became obvious about two-thirds thru the book, I felt there were too many open holes. I thought there were other murders happening, which confused me as to why the killer murdered anyone but the ones whom (s)he had a vengeance against.

The time gap left too much to my imagination. I wanted to know what happened in Joey's life and in Lydia's life to turn them into who they were. There were some details, but I often was left to my own devices, which is not always a good thing!

The ending in the epilogue was weak. It should have explored more about the immediate after-effect of all the drama.

There was another hole (until the ending) over why the person who knew what the killer had done never steps up and says anything. Even if (s)he was scared, this was one of those situations where the police could have protected him/her. It seemed too much like a plot device, especially given everything else that was going on.

Author & Other Similar Books
Although the author co-wrote another book, it's his debut as a single author of a thriller and suspense novel. It's a typical suspense novel, jumping around between time periods and characters, dropping clues about the murderer along the way. I cannot think of anything it directly compares to, but has strong elements of family and trust.

Final Thoughts
The book is worth a read. It's a good mystery, full of drama and emotionally-crippling scenes. It's got a little horror and some suspense. Think of it like a good piece of cake, but it's a bit dry at times and is missing a little more filling to hold it together before it's devoured. As a result, you've got some crumbs on the floor, a funny little taste in your mouth and a bit of a thirst to read some more. I like the author's style and would definitely read another book by him, assuming the plots are tidied up a bit more and the ingredients are fully flushed out.

About Me
For those new to me or my reviews... here's the scoop: I read A LOT. I write A LOT. And now I blog A LOT. First the book review goes on Goodreads, and then I send it on over to my WordPress blog at https://thisismytruthnow.com, where you'll also find TV & Film reviews, the revealing and introspective 365 Daily Challenge and lots of blogging about places I've visited all over the world. And you can find all my social media profiles to get the details on the who/what/when/where and my pictures. Leave a comment and let me know what you think. Vote in the poll and ratings. Thanks for stopping by. Note: All written content is my original creation and copyrighted to me, but the graphics and images were linked from other sites and belong to them. Many thanks to their original creators.

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Profile Image for Linda.
1,228 reviews1,277 followers
April 21, 2017
How do you turn the page on one horrific, mind-shattering experience that locks into your psyche like handcuffs on a wayward criminal?

Or in Lydia's case, make that two.......

Lydia Smith works as a dedicated clerk at the Bright Ideas Bookstore in Denver. And no one had any idea of what would await her in the upper level of the store that day. Lydia has her friendly BookFrogs who perch on chairs and seek out favorite niches within the shop on a daily basis. She loves the banter and the warmth of this atmosphere. But one of those BookFrogs, Joey Molina, hasn't come down after the "time to close" warning.

Lydia rushes up the stairs and is struck speechless. Joey has hung himself. While Joey never really interacted with the others, his landlady gives Lydia stacks of books from his apartment. Joey had no family or friends. And Joey had no story.

While flipping through the books, Lydia realizes that there is a series of codes within each book that Joey created with an exacto knife. Once Lydia gets the hang of it, she starts to decode strains of information about Joey. Something is out of kilter here.

And you'll find out something beyond out of kilter in regard to Lydia's past. You'd swear that this episode from her childhood had been penned by the likes of Stephen King in his earlier offerings. There's plenty of sprinkles with a side order of creepy here.

Matthew J. Sullivan presents a story like no other in that pile of books on your own table. There's plenty of mystery, unsolved crimes, searches for identity, family relationships, and a nice round of humor tucked in for good measure. Sullivan's use of Joey's code is a creative one. As readers, we like to work a bit along the storyline. And Sullivan provides that. Oh, dear sir, I am anxiously awaiting your next one and what you might just serve up........

I received a copy of Midnight at the Bright Ideas Bookstore through NetGalley for an honest review. My thanks to Simon & Shuster (Scribner Books) and to Matthew Sullivan for the opportunity.

Profile Image for Kaceey.
1,068 reviews3,614 followers
July 16, 2017
Wow! Can I give this 6 stars please!?

This was the perfect book for a traveling sister read with my Canadian sisters Norma and Brenda!! We literally read the entire book together chapter by chapter chatting constantly! The author gave us so many paths to go down and yes, we ventured down each one trying to put the pieces of this mystery together. Loved every step of this journey.

There were so many moments I caught myself smiling, only to be brought to tears in the end. I am so sad it's finished!

I absolutely adored this book! Placing on my favorite’s shelf right away! Highly recommend!

For our full traveling sister review please visit Norma and Brenda's fantastic book blog:
September 28, 2017
4 stars! I enjoyed this unique and clever mystery revolving around a past crime which is slowly unraveled through clues within several books.

The main character, Lydia Smith, works at the Bright Ideas Bookstore. Lydia gets to know all of the ‘BookFrogs’, the regular customers whose loneliness is cured by daily visits to the bookstore where they often are lined up before the stores opening hour. I really liked Lydia’s character and all of her quirks. She has a tragic history that she hopes is left in her past – I was very curious about her secretive side and all that she was trying to hide.

The story is filled with several eccentric characters, each adding to the books intriguing plot. The mystery itself had me captivated and guessing throughout the entire novel. I also enjoyed the exploration of family relationships throughout this story.

I thoroughly enjoyed this compelling, suspense-filled, highly entertaining read and would recommend it!
Profile Image for Always Pouting.
568 reviews716 followers
February 16, 2020
Lydia works at a book store and can't help her soft spot for the BookFrogs, lonely or troubled regulars that spend most of their time at the bookshop, that hang out there. One BookFrog in particular named Joey becomes especially close to Lydia, and when Joey commits suicide in the shop, Lydia can't help but be affected. Lydia is the one who happens upon the body, and while there she finds a picture of herself as a young child in Joey's pocket. Lydia is taken aback by the discovery of the picture and can't figure out how Joey could've gotten it. Things become even weirder as Lydia finds that Joey has left her his books with a code in them she has to decipher. Lydia's past becomes tangled up in her new life as she looks into Joey's death.

Definitely enjoyed this one a lot as well, though I saw that many people had mixed feelings about it. I can agree with the reviews that didn't enjoy it as much because of the amount of coincidences that would have to take place for the story to even be possible. It does seem convoluted and hard to believe but I personally enjoyed it regardless, and the coincidences didn't hinder the book for me. I did think Lydia was being just slightly ridiculous about her relationship with her father however, because even though he withdrew from her after the Hammerman incident, it was understandable and I really do think it was unfair of her to take it out on him if he couldn't cope as well as she expect. I know one expects their parents to be there for them always but parents are human too and should be cut some slack.

Also . It just seemed so uncalled for and why can't Lydia be more realistic about the situation. I know again that what happened was traumatic but to let your whole life be based on one incident and always being withdrawn because of it seems so unhealthy and it just made me want to be like Lydia please stop that and shake her god damn it. I don't get why .

I did love how the two story lines intertwined and the ending was great, I hadn't worked it out before hand at all and so I was just like what what the fuck what when I got to it. I really loved Joey and felt for him as well as Lydia's dad, especially Lydia's father because he's such a dork and his life is sad and like oh god. I do think .

The book was really good, despite my complaints, which mostly stem from my own preferences and feelings more than anything else. I loved the writing as well and I totally look forward to reading anything else the author may publish in the future.
Profile Image for Mary Beth .
382 reviews1,653 followers
September 25, 2017

Lydia Smith is a clerk at the Bright Idea Book Store. She loves her books and the BookFrogs. Joey Molina is one of the book frogs.

One night Lydia finds Joey hanging in the air. A long strap was threaded over a ceiling beam and looped around his neck. Lydia was so upset, because Joey just committed suicide. Poking up from Joey's front pocket was a picture of her as a child. It was a birthday picture of her when she was ten years old. This haunted her from her past. It reminded her of a terrible night with The Hammerman.

Joey lived in a home for all wayward boys who are all grown up. A home for all ex felons. Lydia finds out that Joey has left her all of his possessions. Lydia also finds out that Joey went to prison because when he was younger he dropped cinder blocks on mini vans. He served just over 2 years.

She then finds out that a lot of Joey's books that he left her have all been mislabeled. She knew that they weren't mislabeled when he brought them to her at the counter of them to her at the counter at the book store when he bought them. She wonders why they are mislabeled and then finds out that there are lots of clues in these books and she has to find the answers to all the cryptic messages.

This all leads back to the terrible night with The Hammerman and the search is on to find out who this scary terrible man is.

My Thoughts

I loved this book, it was a great surprise. How can you go wrong with a book about books. Any book lover will love this book with so many different titles. I was so excited to read it. I waited for this to come in from Overdrive and when this came in, I was doing the happy dance and read it right away. I knew it was going to be good but I didn't know that it was going to be this good. I love great surprises like this one.

I couldn't believe this was a debut novel. It is one of those character driven novels. The character development was very well done. You could just vision them. I loved Lydia. This book was so well written. It flowed very well. The writing is just beautiful. There were so many clues and I followed them and these clues led you to the killer.
It was a very clever story with lots of twists and turns.

I highly recommend this book to anyone that loves a clever mystery and thriller.

Profile Image for Adina ( On hiatus until next week) .
827 reviews3,233 followers
August 17, 2017

Midnight at the Bright Ideas Club is this summer new star of the bookish mystery genre. For a novel that was first published only two months ago it got a lot of fans on Goodreads. Although I was reluctant at first to follow the buzz, I am glad I did because it was a fun read perfect for my summer vacation.

The main reason why this novel is so popular is that it seems to be written specially to tingle every book lover’s pleasure receptors. First of all, the main character is a bookseller with a librarian father. Then, the title is the bookstore which is the location of few important plot developments. Moreover, Lydia, the MC possesses the traits that many book lovers can identify with. Add to this a mystery that revolves around messages hidden in books and you can’t go wrong with the intended audience. It worked, I found myself smiling many times, thinking- This is me and I was immediately invested in the character’s quest to find the reason for her friend’s suicide. However, I sometimes thought that the author was trying too much to satisfy my bookish personality.

The main mystery interlocked nicely with Lydia’s past secrets and I was surprised by some of the plot turns. Unfortunately, I guessed the main culprit quite early so a part of the fun was ruined for me when I realized I was right. Also, I thought that there were too many coincidences that made the plot feel forced.

The writing was ok, nothing special. The focus is on the setting and the plot so there is no space for too much deepness.

As I said, I enjoyed the novel, it is a perfect summer read but I probably won’t remember much about it in a few months.

I received this copy from the publisher via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review
Profile Image for Carol.
1,370 reviews2,137 followers
June 8, 2017
4.5 Stars! More than just your run-of-the-mill whodunit!

When I first laid eyes on this book-cover, I knew I had to read it, but the shocker of a beginning that leads to an even bigger....much more intense....shocker along the way turned this DEBUT into a downright page-turner for me.

Lydia is a first-rate bookseller and friend to ALL who enter The Bright Ideas Bookstore, but....she has a haunted past....and after the tragedy of a troubled friend, she is left with a saddened heart and baffling mystery to solve.

MIDNIGHT AT THE BRIGHT IDEAS BOOKSTORE has a creative, multi-layered storyline with colorful characters and addictive writing, and Matthew J. Sullivan is certainly off to an impressive start!

Many thanks to NetGalley and Scribner Publishers for the ARC in exchange for an honest review.

Profile Image for Jen CAN.
486 reviews1,360 followers
September 17, 2017
I would have bypassed this one if not for some rave reviews. The cover - not all that attractive; the title, not all that luring. But, a story about a bookstore, about books and a suspicious suicide? Count me in for being intrigued.

Once I opened these pages and delved into the story it spun me into a world of death, secrets and deceit.

I will never look at a hammer the same way again.

A surprisingly refreshing read. 4⭐️
Profile Image for Meredith (Slowly Catching Up).
793 reviews12.4k followers
September 28, 2017
Midnight at the Bright Ideas Bookstore is a beautifully sad, atmospheric mystery about the tragic events connected to a young man’s suicide.

The majority of the story is told through the POV of Lydia, a 30 year old bookseller who witnessed the horrific “Hammerman” murders when she was 10 years old. The murders went unsolved, and Lydia’s survival story turned her into her a national sensation.

Fast forward 20 years later, and Lydia has done all she can to bury the past...until Joey, one of the regular “Book Frogs” at Bright Ideas, commits suicide in the bookstore. Lydia had a unique friendship with Joey, and she is shocked to discover that he left her all of his belongings. Lydia investigates Joey’s past, trying to come to terms with his suicide. In doing so, she is forced to face her own past and remember the night “The Hammerman” wreaked havoc.

I went into reading this with little idea about what the story was about. What I wasn't prepared for was how sad it was; I felt like sadness resonated off the pages. I really enjoyed Sullivan’s writing style, and I especially I loved reading about the Bright Ideas Bookstore. My first job was in a bookstore, and I can certainly relate to the quirky booksellers and regular customers who made the bookstore their home.

Overall, this was an enjoyable, yet tragically sad read.
Profile Image for Liz.
2,023 reviews2,529 followers
May 27, 2017
This is a beautifully written book. It drew me in from the first few pages. “Their fighting felt like weather, like clouds had been trapped behind that swinging kitchen door and were presently rolling down from the ceiling”. OMG, I was entranced by writing like that. I wanted to highlight almost every other sentence, because they were like jewels on the page.

I can't believe this is a debut novel. It portrays itself as a mystery, but it's much more than that. Sullivan’s ability to describe characters is spot on perfect, even the minor characters are fully fleshed out. You get such a sense of them right off the bat. I know, I know. I'm gushing!

This book is written as an enigma, just like the codes that Joey leaves for Lydia. Almost immediately, Joey commits suicide by hanging himself in the bookstore. Lydia is the one to find his body. He leaves her his meager belongings, mostly his books, with holes cut in the pages. There are ties between him and a crucial incident in Lydia’s past. This book has layers upon layers and goes in a direction I never saw coming.

My thanks to netgalley and Scribner for an advance copy of this book.

Profile Image for Cathrine ☯️ .
617 reviews338 followers
May 22, 2017
I confess to requesting this because what bibliophile can resist a cover with colorful books on it and a title indicating that the pages will turn a story inside an indie bookstore that’s open till midnight.
I knew almost nothing going in and did not read the preliminary book notes. I was kind of expecting a cozy corner book shop tale with lovable, quirky characters and that is exactly what I did not get.
What I got was a decidedly un-cozy tale of suicide, mystery, murder, more mystery, and . . . well that’s it. I’m not going to tell you anymore except that I fell in love with Joey even though he broke my heart and was dead before the first page was turned and that I could not stop turning those pages.
The bad? This is Matthew J. Sullivan's debut novel and there aren’t any more to read. I’m thinking of creating a new shelf on goodreads—Authors To Read Again ASAP.

Thanks much to NetGalley, Simon & Schuster, and the author for this eGalley.
July 22, 2017
Traveling Sisters Review by Brenda, Norma and Kaceey.

5 Shiny, Sparkling, and Bright stars from all of us!

When we first thought about reading Midnight at the Bright Ideas Bookstore we wanted to read it with Kaceey and Lindsay, however, the timing was not on our side and we ended up only being able to read it with Kaceey. We really missed Lindsay on this one and wished it would've worked out for all of us.

Midnight at the Bright Ideas Bookstore is an intriguing, dark, clever, and one of the most original and engrossing thrillers we have read. It starts off fast and dramatic and caught our attention right away. It quickly turned into a fast page-turner afternoon with us turning the pages as fast as we could and messaging each other quite often with our theories and guesses until life demanded our attention. Making this the best and funniest Traveling Sister Read we have done so far with Kaceey.

Matthew Sullivan delivers a well-paced and well-written solid story here with one of the most perfect settings in our opinion taking place in an eccentric bookstore with quirky and unique characters. We all loved the feeling with the sense of place and could visualize ourselves walking through the aisles of the bookstore as he described all the areas so vividly. He had us all wanting to visit and explore that bookstore. We were amused by the Bookfrogs and enjoyed how they were part of a community within the bookstore that Lydia and her quirky colleagues would try to protect and embraced them as part of the bookstore.

The clever solid original plot with savvy connections and puzzles incorporated in the storyline had us searching for clues but very little clues were given along the way for Norma to follow and her detective skills were stalled. So very clever of Sullivan but not clever enough for Kaceey who shocked us and herself with figuring out right away who the Hammerman was but not knowing the reasoning behind it. Of course, Brenda is off in left field trying to lure them to join her there with her out of field theories. It really adds more fun to our reads with how different of readers we are and how we compliment each other. We could really see that with this book and in this reading experience.

Midnight at the Bright Ideas Bookstore is one not to be missed and we highly recommend pushing this one to the top of your list.

Thank you to NetGalley, Scribner and Matthew J. Sullivan for copy to read and review.

All of Traveling Sister reviews along with Norma and my reviews can be found on our sister blog:
Profile Image for Diane S ☔.
4,736 reviews14.1k followers
May 15, 2017
Another debut author who on this his first outing shows a considerable amount of talent. A suicide in a book store of a young man with a short but sorry past, a book clerk with a terrifying event in her ownpast, the return of a childhood friend, and a mystery to solve.

Hard to classify this one because it mixes many different elements of the mystery genre. It starts as a puzzle mystery involving books and then turns into an exploration of the past of both the young man and Lydia's past. It is well written and quite clever. Although the book does go back and forth, it does so seamlessly and I was never confused. It definitely held my interest throughout even though I did guess some if it before the ending. The whole story was still a shocker. Not an edge of your seat thriller but a look at how past mistakes can have a serious effect on the future. A little different from many and I did enjoy this.

ARC by Scribner publishers.
Publishes in June.
Profile Image for Susanne.
1,159 reviews36.8k followers
June 19, 2017
4 Stars.

Lydia Smith loves books, she always has. She also loves her job at the Bright Ideas Bookstore in Denver. The BookFrogs who patron the store everyday make her job that much more special. You know who they are... the down and out men and women who love to hang out at the store, to sit amongst the books, and talk to the clerks and other patrons and just chill.

One of her favorite BookFrogs is Joey. During the time that she has worked at Bright Ideas, she has gotten to know him quite well - or so she thought. One night around midnight, as she is getting ready to close up, Lydia hears a noise from the second floor of the shop. As it turns out, its Joey making the noise. Unfortunately, Lydia discovers that he’s not sitting upstairs reading,… or talking to his friend Lyle or another BookFrog. Instead, he’s doing something unimaginable. Killing himself .. and Lydia gets there a few seconds too late and is devastated. Strangely enough, at that exact moment, Joey has a picture in his pocket of Lydia and her friend Raj as children, which perplexes Lydia.. and in a desperate act she grabs it before the police arrive. You see, Lydia and Joey did not know each other as children, thus she has no idea how he would have gotten that photograph. She can’t help but wonder how Joey seemed to know about her past – a past that she has done her absolute best to keep hidden from everyone. Including her boyfriend David and all of her co-workers. She has tried her best to forget about her tragic past.. to wipe the slate clean. But that picture proves the opposite – for you cannot escape the past. It always comes back. Upon discovering Joey’s body at the bookstore, the newspapers take photographs of Lydia, which her old children friend Raj recognizes. And thereafter, he does his best to find her.

After his death, Lydia finds that Joey left all of his worldly possessions to her, including his books and a new suit. What Lydia finds upon examining them astounds her. The books have letters cut out of them and she realizes that the cut outs appears to be a puzzle, which she slowly unravels. Joey, as she discovers, left Lydia a message. Lydia needs helping un-coding the message and finding out what Joey wanted from her and that is where Joey’s friend Lyle and her old friend Raj come in. For Lyle knew Joey like the back of his hand, and Lydia trusts Raj more than she has ever trusted anyone (even her boyfriend, David) for Raj knows everything there is to know about her. He knows her secrets, though apparently, so did Joey.

Together, the three of them find out what Joey wanted from Lydia. It is not an easy path for Lydia, nor was it an easy life for Joey. This is a story about learning to let go and trust and the immense power of friendship. Though it has elements of a mystery/suspense, it truly is a character driven novel. And the characters in this novel WOW you. This book steals little pieces of you and it doesn’t let them go. I think it will hold on to me forever.

"Midnight at the Bright Ideas Bookstore" is a very unique and beautifully written novel that is unlike anything I've ever read before. Though the story is sad, it is rich and amazing and I can't stop thinking about it. The characters are lovely and oh so quirky. Every character (from the main characters to the supporting characters) were so well fleshed out and added a lot to the story.. I basically fell in love with all of them (or well, almost all of them). I can't say enough good things about this novel and would recommend it to anyone who loves to read about books, loves puzzles and loves character studies.

Thank you to NetGalley, Scribner and Matthew J. Sullivan for an ARC of this novel in exchange for an honest review.

Published on NetGalley, Goodreads and Amazon on 6.19.17.
Profile Image for Kylie D.
464 reviews510 followers
September 3, 2019
I was looking forward to this book with great anticipation, as friends had said good things about it, but it just didn't hit the mark for me. The characters were all unlikeable, and because of this I wasn't able to connect with any of them, and didn't really give a hoot with what happened. Having said that the plot was quite interesting, however when I finished the book I said to myself "thank goodness that's over." I will leave you to make up your own minds however, as others have rated it, but there are much better books out there.
Profile Image for Norma.
551 reviews12.2k followers
July 26, 2017
This time around our full Traveling Sisters Review can be found on Brenda's Goodreads Review or on our Sister Blog. Traveling Sister Read with Brenda & Kaceey!

5 Shiny, Sparkling, and Bright Stars!  Well that was one impressive and great read!

When I first noticed this book on my Goodreads feed and seen that cover and read that awesome title, I just knew it was a book that I would have to read with my Traveling Sisters right away and what an enjoyable reading experience this was! Our discussion along the way with this one with Kaceey was great fun and the best yet! We had so many theories and ideas thrown out there and only Kaceey guessed correctly this time.  

MIDNIGHT AT THE BRIGHT IDEAS BOOKSTORE by MATTHEW J. SULLIVAN is an intriguing, clever, and creative mystery/thriller novel that read like a literary fiction novel and had me turning those pages as fast as I could. I thoroughly enjoyed this story from start to finish and it was a book that was extremely hard to put down! The plot, the setting, the characters, the puzzles, and the writing was so compelling and entertaining!

To sum it all up it was a fast-paced, engaging, highly entertaining, and suspenseful read with a satisfying ending. I cannot say enough good things about this novel and would highly recommend it!

All of our Traveling Sister Reviews along with Brenda and my reviews can be found on our Sister Blog:
Profile Image for Cheri.
1,743 reviews2,266 followers
June 13, 2017

Matthew Sullivan’s debut novel begins in a place that probably all of us are familiar with: a bookstore. That haven from the outside world that offers us a way to bring some of that essence home with us to keep for our very own, and in the case of the Bright Ideas Bookstore in Denver, it offers a special sort of haven for Lydia’s BookFrogs, those patrons who come and settle in, read, on a daily basis. They’ve become part of the store’s ambiance.

And on this day, at the end of this day, Lydia’s trying to close up Bright Ideas for the night. Only, she realizes that she hasn’t seen Joey leave. Joey, the youngest of the BookFrogs, ”haunted but harmless—a dust bunny blowing through the corners of the store. She heads up the stairs, knowing she’ll find him lost in a book or lost in thoughts, but when she sees him, she can’t believe what she’s seeing.

Joey. Hanging.

Everything Lydia knows about Joey doesn’t amount to very much. He had no real family or friends, no stories he’s shared about his life except that one. It comes as a surprise when his landlady contacts her to let her know that Joey had left her what belongings he did have.

There’s a combination of factors that add layers to this mystery upon mystery upon mystery. A boy with no real past, seems to be speaking in code to Lydia through messages she pieces together from his books from the apartment. But what is it he’s trying to tell her? And why her?

What did he know about Lydia, what did he know about her past? All this looking into Joey’s past can’t help but stir Lydia’s past up, a past she would have preferred never to think about again.

A puzzle that weaves in and out of the past and present, flawlessly, with an unexpected twist or two, and memories come creeping back up and what a tangled web it all makes.

Pub Date: 13 Jun 2017

Many thanks for the ARC provided by Scribner
Profile Image for Karen.
573 reviews1,116 followers
June 24, 2017
A young man named Joey commits suicide in the upper level of The Bright Ideas Bookstore at midnight one evening. Lydia, one of the booksellers who works there is close to many of the "Bookfrogs" the ones who hang around the store and read. Joey has bequeathed Lydia his belongings, as he has no family, including a lot of books that have been cut up to leave messages to her.
This is really good, in part a mystery, a little suspense, but also a story of friendship, sacrifice, and it's an emotional read. I loved it!
Profile Image for Jaline.
444 reviews1,607 followers
August 21, 2017
When Lydia was a child of 10 and her father was a Librarian, she witnessed an act so horrific and terrifying that her entire world was turned upside down. Her father moved them from Denver to a small town in the mountains where they could escape the media and try to put their lives back together. Lydia’s father ended up working in a prison, and Lydia grew up with her terrors never far from her side. A chasm grew between father and daughter. Lydia felt her father was keeping secrets from her and she didn’t know how to cross that flimsy bridge. Her father wouldn’t cross that bridge to protect Lydia from truths that would hurt her.

Twenty years later, Lydia is back in Denver and working at the Bright Ideas Bookstore. She loves her job and especially loves the diversity of people frequenting the bookstore. Her BookFrogs are dear to her. These are the street people and those in subsidized housing who come in to browse, stay warm, and drink the coffee creamers. Lydia spends as much time helping them navigate through the bookshelves as she does with the rich clientele who walk out with bags of books they’ve purchased.

One midnight, right at closing time, one of her BookFrogs commits suicide on the third floor of the bookstore. Lydia has a special place in her heart for the young man named Joey, and she is the one who discovers him. His loss affects her deeply, and also starts to open schisms from the past. She is drawn to find out more about who this young man was – she wants to find some way of finding his family to let them know what had happened.

Lydia’s explorations into Joey’s past act on her life like a heavy object dropped on thin ice. Cracks and crevices leading into her own past blend with those in the present, and yet she can’t let it go. She has to find out the answers. To all of it: the past and the present. She is still scared, but now she is ready.

This story is filled with characters who are unique and multi-faceted. They all have very human faces – ones we could see on any street of any town or city. Their personalities unfold as the story progresses. The suspense that erupts at the beginning rumbles throughout like the distant sound of thunder. As Lydia discovers more pieces of the puzzle that is Joey, there are sudden bolts of lightning - yet far in the distance and not bright enough to see the whole picture.

I did figure out fairly early on who was involved in throwing Lydia’s early life off track. In this particular book, figuring out ‘who’ isn’t the point – knowing, or at least suspecting, actually adds to the suspense. The main points are how and why - and where, if any, are the connections between the past and the present.

The biggest surprise for me is that this is a debut novel. I would never have guessed. For me, the book read like one written by a well-seasoned writer. I thoroughly enjoyed the story and would recommend it to anyone who enjoys bookstores, libraries, booksellers, librarians, books, people who read books, and a well-written story that brings them all to life.
Profile Image for Skyler Autumn.
228 reviews1,397 followers
January 13, 2020
1 Star

Well, that was boring!


Have you ever read a great mystery novel and thought do you know what this book needs? More paperwork, really walk me through the day-to-day minutiae of filling out forms. Forget that pointless pesky action! I want contemplation, conversation and paperwork, if this is what you truly enjoy then boy do I have the novel for you!

Midnight at The Bright Ideas Bookstore seemed so promising! I wanted to like it. NO! Love it. At its core, it seemed like a fun murder mystery set in a bookstore with a bunch of kooky characters that are bibliophiles. How is an avid reader not supposed to grope for a copy of this read? Don't get me wrong my expectations for this novel were not huge ones I didn't think this read was going to boggle my mind or make me want to hold the book over my head Rafiki style. I just thought this would be a fun no brainier to tuck into after a long day.

This book wanted to be so much more then it was, it wanted to be dark, deep, and thought-provoking. It was none of the above. The story revolves around our protagonist Lydia, finding a picture of her in the pocket of a man who decided to hang himself in the middle of the bookstore she works at. He ends up leaving behind a bunch of clues/a suicide note through pages of books. Cool right? Ya it is, but don't get too invested because that soon becomes the back story to Lydia filing paperwork, drinking moodily, driving to places, and having odd reunions with a Father who you have no idea why she's being such an asshole too (and you never will) and with her childhood friend, Raj that just kind comes in and invades her space. She knew you at 8 years old Raj, your connections not as deep as you think it is, you presumptuous stalker. Most characters act in a way that absurd and unreasonable so it's best not to think too much about a characters motivation.

The character development was so desperate. Every introduction to a new character started with the author really prepping you for their kookiness. Oh they got crazy hair get ready for there zaniness, oh they also have an odd backstory get ready they are going to be such a kookster, oh he's homeless what's going to happen? He's going to be all kinds of loony and out there. The author continues to prep you for the absurdity that is going to be whatever new character he decides to introduce (and they will add nothing to the story) and then they immediately start interacting with our protagonist and your left think; dude, you built up their wackiness way too much. The characters are beyond pedestrian and bland. If anything his characters were so bland they barely had personality and could easily be interchangeable. The juxtaposition of his set up and the delivery was so ridiculous it just ended up highlighting how poor of a job he had done with his character development.

Overall this book was worse than horrible it was dull, it felt like a chore to get through. I know once again I should DNF these types of reads it is a skill set that I have to develop because books like this make reading miserable and if I'm not enjoying the book I'm reading then why the fuck am I putting myself through that! Its like I hit a certain page count and think well I can't stop now look how far I've come. Well, I came to the end of this book and all I can think now is how I should've just stopped reading it.
Profile Image for Tammy.
512 reviews431 followers
November 29, 2017
This is a marvelous acquisition by Scribner (arguably one of the most prestigious imprints around) so I knew that I was in for a treat. Midnight at the Bright Ideas Bookstore is a debut novel but it sure doesn't feel like it. Sullivan has the control of his material that you would expect from a much more mature author. This is a book about about books, booksellers and bookstore patrons which is something that Sullivan knows a great deal about being a former bookseller himself. It's also about a suicide, horrifying murders and survival. At its heart is a clever puzzle combined with a picture found on the body of the suicide that holds the key to everything. This one will keep you turning pages as you follow clues to find out what actually happened or, as my husband so eloquently said, "good book; exclamation point."
Profile Image for Diana • Book of Secrets.
780 reviews571 followers
August 14, 2017
Poor Lydia, she's had a difficult life. As a child, she was the lone survivor of a murderer - the "Hammerman" - who was never caught. Estranged from her father, she now spends her days as a clerk in a Denver bookstore hiding from her past. When Joey, one of her favorite young patrons, kills himself in the bookstore, Lydia is shaken. Things get weirder when she finds out Joey has left his meager worldly possessions to her, and that they hold clues to why he committed suicide.

Quirky characters, a couple of twisty mysteries, devoted bibliophiles, and a bookshop, MIDNIGHT AT THE BRIGHT IDEAS BOOKSTORE had all the right elements to pull me in. While not a fast-paced read, this book is well worth waiting for the pieces of the puzzle to come together. Lydia's search for the truth about the Hammerman and Joey's death kept me guessing.

The audiobook was narrated by Madeleine Maby, whom I always love listening to. She did a wonderful job capturing Lydia's disposition as well as the accents of other female characters, while the male characters were read a bit too slowly. Still, listening to the audio format was an entertaining experience.

Disclosure: I received a copy of this audiobook from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.
Profile Image for Caro (Bookaria).
613 reviews19.4k followers
July 20, 2017
A mystery that begins with a death in a bookstore? Yes, please!

Lydia works at the Bright Ideas Bookstore in Denver. One day before closing the store she finds that Joey, one of the book patrons, has committed suicide in the back room, an event that saddened those who knew him. After Joey's death his possessions are given to Lydia who realizes that he left behind books with strange inscriptions in it. This is the beginning of the mystery as Lydia devotes herself to finding out more about the puzzle of Joey's death and the reasons behind his early departure.

The story is told -mainly- from the point of view of Lydia and her father in alternating timelines, past and present. The characters surrounding the bookstore are also readers so books are mentioned throughout the story. I particularly enjoyed the chapters with Plath, she is also a clerk in the bookstore and her comments were delightfully witty.

Overall I really enjoyed the book, I think the story was well-paced, the characters interesting and the writing beautiful. I recommend it to those who like mysteries.

Review also posted on blog

About the author:
Profile Image for Phrynne.
3,223 reviews2,052 followers
September 11, 2017
Firstly, despite its cover and cheery title, this is not a cosy mystery. It is a real honest to goodness mystery with several deaths and some suspense filled moments. I did enjoy the setting though and sincerely wish there was a bookshop like that within driving distance of my house!
The author writes well - nice prose and some great characters especially Joey who really deserved a much better time of things! Lydia was a bit of a saint but she had her reasons. The story was well thought out and I found myself not wanting to put the book down until I found out what had really happened. I did guess who the murderer probably was but had no idea of motive - I had to wait right to the end before everything became crystal clear. The epilogue was sweet.
A very readable book as long as you are aware from the start that it is really a mystery set in and around books and not a book about books:)
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