MIDNIGHT AT THE BRIGHT IDEAS BOOKSTORE by Matthew J. Sullivan (Audiobook)


Publisher: Simon & Schuster Audio
Release Date: June 13, 2017
Source: Review copy from the publisher
Rating: ★★★★


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.​


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.

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