Midnight at the Bright Ideas Bookstore

Midnight at the Bright Ideas Bookstore

A Novel

Book - 2017
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Goodreads Debut Author of the Month and an Indie Next Pick!

"Sullivan's debut is a page-turner featuring a heroine bookseller who solves a cold case with clues from books--what is not to love?" --Nina George, author of The Little French Bistro , and the New York Times bestselling The Little Paris Bookshop

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.​
Publisher: New York : Scribner, c2017
Edition: 1st Scribner hardcover ed
ISBN: 9781501116841
Branch Call Number: M SUL
Characteristics: 328 p. ;,24 cm


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IndyPL_CarriG Apr 13, 2021

Lydia Smith has always found her escape in reading, and she needs it. A terrifying event in her childhood defined the rest of her life and left her isolated and lonely. Now a young woman working in a bookshop filled with aimless booklovers who often have no where else to go, she witnesses a devastating suicide and finds a strange and terrifying link to her own past. A clever, improbable, and ultimately satisfying read.

Feb 06, 2021

I enjoyed this book, though it won't be one I come back to again. It was an interesting story with chapters that weaved present-day and years-ago stories together until they crashed into each other in the final pages. I'm always a little disappointed when I can solve the whodunit before I'm supposed to, but even so, I sat and read this whole book in 3 days, so definitely worth checking out.

Jan 25, 2021

Midnight at the Bright Ideas Bookstore evokes pain and suffering and sadness.
The story begins with a terrible death of one of the dispirited customers. Joey Molina hangs himself in the bookstore just before closing time and of course, Lydia Smith finds Joey. In Joey’s pocket, Lydia finds a picture taken at her 10th birthday celebration. Why does Joey have this picture? Lydia begins her search that began 20 years ago when her best friend, Carol O’Toole, and her parents were brutally murdered with a hammer and Lydia remained hidden under the kitchen sink. The symbolism of broken hands surfaces with David, Lydia’s boyfriend, and his hand partially chopped off by the garbage disposable and with the boiled in hot oil of Maya Patel, Raj’s mother, hand. The amazing quest of Joey to mislabel and encode books to express his journey to find his birth mother. The story shows the troubling misconception of the poor, of the drug dependent, and of troubled souls. Lydia displays that overcoming your situation remains probable. The ending comes as a surprise.

Petehere99 Jul 20, 2020

Part mystery, part love letter to books, booksellers, and book lovers alike (and even includes a shout out to the gang back in receiving), Midnight at the Bright Ideas Bookstore is a very clever mystery about a suicide, a triple murder, and the lone survivor who has to put all the pieces together. The novel is set, I believe, in early 1990's Denver, when the baseball stadium was being built and the lower-downtown area was just beginning its long transformation from urban blight to imposing glass edifices and impossible to park. The Bright Ideas Bookstore was a place to escape the cold and lose yourself in three stories of books, a coffee shop, and a newsstand.

I came onto the scene in 2001, and by mid-year was working for an eerily similar bookstore in Denver. We didn't stay open until midnight back then, but I do recall closing on weekends at 11:00 pm, the bars in full swing and many a colorful character wandering (sometimes staggering) in for a last look at the books or a quick trip to the restroom (perhaps to vomit). I remember having my lunch at the 16th and Wynkoop intersection late in the summer. Today, hundreds and hundreds of people and vehicles pass by in a hurry going this way and that. But back then on that day there was not another soul in sight, until...a very old man came upon me violently swing his cane. I was sure he was going to hit me with it, but he eventually calmed down and we had lunch together. It was nice. I only saw him one more time after that, still swinging the cane.

But getting back to the book. At the onset of the story, star bookseller Lydia discovers one of her regulars, Joey, hanging by his neck on the third floor of the bookstore (that's right, the third floor). Based upon my lower-downtown experience of those years past, I don't find that scenario implausible at all. The hanged man leaves a clue on his person that connects Lydia to a dark incident in her past. So begins a humble bookseller's fascinating journey through gritty downtown Denver and into the snowy mountains as she attempts to solve the riddle of a suicide and the identity of a murderer.

Longtime Denver folks will recognize the many so accurately described landmarks in the novel including the Wazee Supper Club, the 16th Street mall, a certain independent bookstore, Capitol Hill, Colfax, the dive bars, the slushy alleys. Very longtime Denver folks and booksellers may even recognize themselves. Who could guess a book about suicide and homicide could be such fun to read?

Jan 22, 2020

I liked this story about am underacheiving bookseller still suffering some PTSD from a childhood trauma. Closing her bookstore one night, she discovers a suicide in the history section...a young man she knew only as a regular at the bookstore, who, curiously, had a childhood picture of her protruding from his pocket. Slowly she discovers who he was, and some loose ends she's always lived with are finally tied up.

MissAnnie Nov 06, 2019

This one is a little more graphic and grizzly than I typically enjoy; however, the plot unfolds beautifully and Lydia and Raj are a sympathetic pair.

Oct 27, 2019

2.5 stars
The plot did not engage my interest; I felt minimal connection of interest toward the main characters because the author created too much enigma and "shadowed silence" too early in the story....and...Lydia's story... rather scary. etc. etc.

Sep 25, 2019

So I don't read a lot of mystery/thriller books but this one hooked me in. I was kept guessing until the end and even then there were twists I never could have predicted. Less of the bookstore then I would have liked but that's okay! Thank you Matthew Sullivan for creating this awesome novel that got me back into mystery novels!

Aug 03, 2019

An OK read, but the bookstore setting has little to do with the plot. I thought of giving up a few times, but stuck with it to see if the astounding co-incidence that sets up the whole plot was explained as more than just an astounding coincidence (which it wasn't.) And the whole cut-out-in-book code was ridiculous. If Lydia and Raj appear in another book they'll do so without me.

Jul 29, 2019

Its been awhile since I've read a mystery and wasn't disappointed. Was able to figure out the ending about 2/3rds through, but still enjoyed how the story played out.

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Kristen MERKE
Mar 05, 2019

Kristen MERKE thinks this title is suitable for 18 years and over


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