If it's good, I'll read it! Instagram: @crystenasbooks
Author: Matthew Sullivan
Rating: 3.5 stars
I received this book free in exchange for an honest review.
Book Blurb: 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.
Whilst I was surprised at the turns this book took and am impressed with how well Sullivan took characters that you would expect to find in cozy mysteries - bookstore owners and workers, librarians, doughnut shop owners, quirky townspeople - and put them into a fully realized violent mystery/thriller, I normally do not like books this dark.
The book left me with an overall unsettled and queasy feeling. Not something I look for in my reading.
It's different, I will give you that.
I guessed the murderer through pure process of elimination about half way through - but was clueless as to motive and kept reading for the clues that would satisfy my curiosity. The book is definitely a page turner. But again, dark.
Would I recommend it? If you like that sort of thing.