Midnight at the Bright Ideas Bookstore
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.​

Midnight at the Bright Ideas Bookstore Details

TitleMidnight at the Bright Ideas Bookstore
Author
FormatHardcover
LanguageEnglish
ReleaseJun 13th, 2017
PublisherScribner
ISBN1501116843
ISBN-139781501116841
Number of pages336 pages
Rating
GenreMystery, Fiction, Thriller, Mystery Thriller

Midnight at the Bright Ideas Bookstore Review

  • Larry H
    May 7, 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 deci 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....
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  • Linda O'Donnell
    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 t 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.
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  • Cathrine ☯️
    May 16, 2017
    4.5★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.Right?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, 4.5★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.Right?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.
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  • Liz
    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 chara 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.
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  • James
    February 26, 2017
    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 sounde 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. Strengths 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. Characters 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.[polldaddy poll=9729544][polldaddy poll=9719251]
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  • Diane S ☔
    May 11, 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 wel 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.
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  • Cheri
    May 19, 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 t 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 2017Many thanks for the ARC provided by Scribner
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  • Dorie
    May 9, 2017
    I am a sucker for any book that takes place in a bookstore, involves a bookstore or bookseller, basically anything that feeds into my bibliophile nature. There is one great debut novel that spills out when turning the somewhat ordinary (sorry for that) cover of this book. There are so many good things about the book it’s hard to know where to start.For me a novel usually entices and then grabs me by the quality of the characters and how well they are defined. A plot can be great but if the chara I am a sucker for any book that takes place in a bookstore, involves a bookstore or bookseller, basically anything that feeds into my bibliophile nature. There is one great debut novel that spills out when turning the somewhat ordinary (sorry for that) cover of this book. There are so many good things about the book it’s hard to know where to start.For me a novel usually entices and then grabs me by the quality of the characters and how well they are defined. A plot can be great but if the characters aren’t believable or interesting I usually find my myself having difficulty getting into the story. So let’s talk about some of the great characters.Lydia is a bookseller who is great at what she does and she loves her work. Lydia has loved books since she was very small, her father used to be a librarian and toted her to work with him since she was just a babe. She is a great bookseller because she listens to her customers and is able to discern what type of book they might be looking for. She has a big heart and makes room in the bookstore for those that she calls her “BookFrogs”, most of them down on their luck types who find refuge in the cozy atmosphere of the book store. Lydia enjoys listening to their conversations and befriends many of them. Joey is one of the youngest and brightest of the bunch and she has gotten to know him quite well. One evening after “ the store is closing announcement” Joey doesn’t come down from the upper floor. As Lydia climbs the stairs to check on him she finds that he has hung himself and it’s too late to help him, although they try to resuscitate him and call an ambulance, he is already gone.Joey has no family and has left his meager belongings to Lydia. As she goes through his things she finds a photo of herself and her best friend Raj taken when she was blowing out the candles on her 10th birthday. Lydia had never even seen this picture. She wonders why and how Joey has this photo and why it was important to him. There are crates of books in Joey’s apartment and upon closer inspection Lydia finds that Joey has cut out windows and linked books to one another in order to leave messages in code. The more Lydia reads, the more confused she is as to what Joey is trying to tell her.Lydia is hiding many secrets of her own. Something very terrible happened when she was young and afterwards she spent many lonely years in a cabin in the woods with her eccentric father. They moved to this isolated spot because her father was trying to protect her but from what and who? Raj, one of Lydia’s close friends from childhood, finds her from the photo in the newspaper about the suicide in the bookstore. With some trepidation she invites Raj back into her life and they work together to try to discern how Joey fits into their lives. Lydia decides to contact the police detective, now retired, who worked on the case from her past and listens as he tells her his suspicions about the unsolved crime. She is unconvinced that what he is saying is the answer, could someone she loves really be the perpetrator of a crime that left Lydia scarred forever? This book kept me guessing until the end and I was not expecting the outcome at all!! This book is a fantastic read, so much more than a mystery, it is full of emotion and love, even some laughter. The only flaw for me was the ending describing Lydia’s personal life after the crime is solved. I felt it was a little too quickly wrapped up and not quite believable but it didn’t take away from my total enjoyment in reading this book.I will certainly be looking forward to the next book from this talented author!I received an ARC of this book from the publisher.
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  • Sheila
    May 19, 2017
    4 stars--I really liked it.What a wonderful, thoughtful, and devastating book. I couldn't stop reading. From the description, title, and cover, I assumed this would be a twee mystery, but it wasn't--it was a dark tale of violence and regret.The book's main strength was in characterization. Lydia, Joey, Raj--I saw everyone so clearly, and ached for them. (Poor, sweet Joey.) Lydia especially broke my heart, but it was also inspirational to see her go from traumatized child to gracious adult. The m 4 stars--I really liked it.What a wonderful, thoughtful, and devastating book. I couldn't stop reading. From the description, title, and cover, I assumed this would be a twee mystery, but it wasn't--it was a dark tale of violence and regret.The book's main strength was in characterization. Lydia, Joey, Raj--I saw everyone so clearly, and ached for them. (Poor, sweet Joey.) Lydia especially broke my heart, but it was also inspirational to see her go from traumatized child to gracious adult. The minor characters (especially Plath) were also very well done. I felt like I'd met them (and visited the bookshop) due to the author's skill.This book is a prime example of show, don't tell--we learn who the characters are through their actions and interactions with the world, not through lengthy descriptions, and it's beautiful. Highly recommended for suspense readers, or anyone who's interested in a compelling, dark, complex tale.I received this review copy from the publisher on NetGalley. Thanks for the opportunity to read and review; I appreciate it!
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  • Steven
    April 22, 2017
    Engaging characters (& the bibliomystery angle) grabbed me almost immediately & rarely let me go. Tightly plotted mystery within mysteries all character-driven & essential to the story. The only negative was a nagging want of more detail & Roth on tertiary & some secondary characters, but that would have unbalanced its tightly wound mystery.FYI I received this ebook via Netgalley.com & the book's publisher free for an honest review.
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  • Jennifer
    February 22, 2017
    I received this book from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review3 starsI love books about books (see The Thirteenth Tale and The Shadow of the Wind) so I had very high expectations for Midnight at the Bright Ideas Bookstore. I thought, hurray, a book about a book that takes place in a bookstore. Unfortunately, MatBIB came up short.Bright Ideas really isn’t about books or a book store, to be perfectly honest, and I am not entirely sure that it should even be the name of the book. Yes, the mai I received this book from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review3 starsI love books about books (see The Thirteenth Tale and The Shadow of the Wind) so I had very high expectations for Midnight at the Bright Ideas Bookstore. I thought, hurray, a book about a book that takes place in a bookstore. Unfortunately, MatBIB came up short.Bright Ideas really isn’t about books or a book store, to be perfectly honest, and I am not entirely sure that it should even be the name of the book. Yes, the main plot point takes place at Bright Ideas and clues are left in books, but the books and the book store are so secondary to the story that it really doesn’t matter.Now, it may sound like I did not enjoy this book, and that is simply not true. It was an enjoyable read, and I was definitely hooked into the mystery. It is a quick read, and the plot interesting, but I pretty much had a good portion of the story worked long before “the reveal”. In the end, it was just not enough “book-about-books” for me and I was disappointed.
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  • Tammy
    February 26, 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 about being a former bookseller himself. It's also about a suici 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 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."
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  • Lolly K Dandeneau
    February 13, 2017
    via my blog: https://bookstalkerblog.wordpress.com/“He was a shattered young man, Lydia often thought, haunted but harmless- a dust bunny blowing through the corners of the store.”Lydia Smith isn’t just the keeper of the books in the bookstore where she works, but of the collection of customers and the lonely, BookFrogs. The BookFrogs, the ones who come into the store to escape from the ruins of their lives, to find comfort within the pages of books, seeking acceptance in a world where they are via my blog: https://bookstalkerblog.wordpress.com/“He was a shattered young man, Lydia often thought, haunted but harmless- a dust bunny blowing through the corners of the store.”Lydia Smith isn’t just the keeper of the books in the bookstore where she works, but of the collection of customers and the lonely, BookFrogs. The BookFrogs, the ones who come into the store to escape from the ruins of their lives, to find comfort within the pages of books, seeking acceptance in a world where they are shunned. Little does she know that one in particular, her favorite, is about to rip her quiet comfortable world wide open. Joey McGinty has always liked Lydia best of all the clerks, “the wooden floors around his feet would be spread with books about subjects as far-reaching as his thoughts”, it crushes her when he commits suicide by hanging himself, more so because she is the one who finds him, in the store. More than the grief, she is left spinning when she inherits everything he owned, and it isn’t much. Curiously, there is a mystery within his books, strange messages, unless she is seeing something that simply isn’t there. What if these ‘messages’ were no more than a quiet unraveling? What about Lyle, just where is he? How curious that the man, though so much Joey’s opposite, that was always glued to Joey is suddenly missing in action. Joey was like a bird, taken under the wise, decades older British man, fellow BookFrog’s wing. The constant presence, always to be found beside Joey “folded into corners for hours at a time”, with an enviable, beautiful affectionate friendship. If she finds him, can he see the reason in the suicide?As she rummages through Joey’s belongings, her violent past creeps back into her life, a world she has made safe, unassuming, and simple. Her past begs the question, how much of a violent encounter during her childhood did she really understand? Just who was Hammerman? Why did he do what he did? Was she truly spared, or did her life end on that night too, just in a different way?Lydia may be living in a safe bubble, hiding with her books, her customers but the Hammerman has never released his bloody claim on her. The tragedy of Joey’s suicide serves as breadcrumbs leading the past straight to her. When her childhood friend, Raj, happens upon her, she can no longer deny the hands of the past reaching, pulling her back home to unmask a killer. Estranged from her father, is it safe to return to the man whose behavior was increasingly bizarre? The man she abandoned to save her own sanity, family or not? What a child remembers and leaves for the adult self to sift through is often at odds with the truth, none more so than in Lydia’s mind.What happens in this novel goes from heartbreaking, to downright brutal! I really had a hard time putting this book down when I was reading it. I held my fingers back for months as it isn’t out until June, burning to review it because I enjoyed this book for so many different reasons. The start of the novel eviscerated me, I hated Joey’s suicide so much more by the novels end and I was wounded and limping through everything that happened to all the characters from Lydia’s childhood. The senselessness tragedy of the crime, the terrifying fear of a young child and later, her father- how one moment of chance destroys more than one future, there is too heavy a reality here. Without going into details about my private life, this novel was read not long after something horrific happened to two people I knew and it made it seem less fictional. How could so brutal a story manage to make my heart tender too? With gorgeous talent, Matthew Sullivan took what could have been a horror story and turned it literary fiction. Often, thrillers have a way of making the reader feel detached, this is the opposite. I put the book down and felt a stony sorrow in my heart for quite some time after. Violence is a monster that stalks it’s victims, and all the bystanders, long after horrific acts are committed. How many lives are destroyed? In the end, even with the truth unmasked, does it ever truly settle us? It opens other wounds, and reminds us that sometimes reason is a hollow excuse. I kept thinking ‘there is no why’ to these terrible acts in the end. Oh so sad! Yes- add this to your summer reading list!Publication Date: June 13, 2017Scribner
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  • Camille Maio
    April 29, 2017
    I am breathless! I just finished this book (thank you, Net Galley, for a copy in exchange for my unbiased review) and had to say something about it immediately. It definitely goes down as my favorite book I've read this year. The author found the perfect blend of suspense, heart, mystery, and description. I had no idea how it would turn out until the author revealed it - always so nice when reading a mystery to be kept guessing the whole time.I won't give any spoilers, but I will say a few thing I am breathless! I just finished this book (thank you, Net Galley, for a copy in exchange for my unbiased review) and had to say something about it immediately. It definitely goes down as my favorite book I've read this year. The author found the perfect blend of suspense, heart, mystery, and description. I had no idea how it would turn out until the author revealed it - always so nice when reading a mystery to be kept guessing the whole time.I won't give any spoilers, but I will say a few things:1. Put this on your to-read list now.2. The quirk of many of the secondary characters could have the author writing a half-dozen spin-offs.3. And - I wish I could give Joey a hug.
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  • Joy Clark
    February 15, 2017
    A good thriller and quick read with a unique premise. I stayed up far too late last night finishing and am paying for it this morning. Ignore the typos as my head continually hits the keyboard every few minutes... eaoidfj... see there? I was drawn to Midnight at the Bright Ideas Bookstore by the cover. Because who among us avid readers isn't seduced by a print of beautiful, colorful book spines? Thrillers are not generally my thing, but I decided to give this one a try because of it's unique - A good thriller and quick read with a unique premise. I stayed up far too late last night finishing and am paying for it this morning. Ignore the typos as my head continually hits the keyboard every few minutes... eaoidfj... see there? I was drawn to Midnight at the Bright Ideas Bookstore by the cover. Because who among us avid readers isn't seduced by a print of beautiful, colorful book spines? Thrillers are not generally my thing, but I decided to give this one a try because of it's unique - and bookish - plot. Lydia, a 30-something bookseller, has a past that she keeps well hidden to herself and others, until the day she finds a frequent patron of the bookstore ("Joey") hanging on the second floor. Forced to confront her demons, Lydia begins a quest to find out more about Joey and his past, all the while learning more than she ever wanted to know about hers. There is a great twist at the end, but certain plot devices felt a bit too convenient and while not predictable per se, definitely foreseeable. This is overall an enjoyable quick read that, while unique, still falls into the same "it's never what you think" formula of most thrillers. That said, if you enjoy a good mystery and books about books, you'll enjoy this one. Thank you to the publisher for providing me with an ARC through NetGalley.
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  • Tammy O
    March 19, 2017
    I came close to giving this 5 stars--I thought it was a great story! The mystery kept me guessing and it was so well written. The characters were well developed with such poignant stories of their own. Vivid descriptions and clever words had me highlighting several passages. The first couple chapters were dark but then it took off and I thoroughly enjoyed it. The bookstore setting was wonderful--I wanted to go there!Highly recommend!Advanced reader copy courtesy of the publishers at NetGalley fo I came close to giving this 5 stars--I thought it was a great story! The mystery kept me guessing and it was so well written. The characters were well developed with such poignant stories of their own. Vivid descriptions and clever words had me highlighting several passages. The first couple chapters were dark but then it took off and I thoroughly enjoyed it. The bookstore setting was wonderful--I wanted to go there!Highly recommend!Advanced reader copy courtesy of the publishers at NetGalley for review.
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  • Gena DeBardelaben
    March 8, 2017
    eARC: NetgalleyQuality. That's not a word I usually use in a book review, but it certainly applies in this case. Matthew J. Sullivan has written a first rate mystery that I didn't solve until the end, but it's so much more than that. I truly cared about the characters and, as I turned the last page, I felt as if my emotions had been put through the wringer.Add Midnight at the Bright Ideas Bookstore to your list of must reads for 2017.
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  • Annabel Dunstone Gray
    May 31, 2017
    Middle of the road on this one. Some good stuff here, bogged down by a few negatives. I love the title (it's one of the main reasons I chose to read it!) and the Hammerman mystery was intriguing, but I found the story to be a little sluggish at times, and didn't care for how the mysteries ended up intertwining. Also- WHY did it take Lydia so long to decode all of Joey's messages? It seems she could have just grabbed all the books at once \_(ツ)_/ Middle of the road on this one. Some good stuff here, bogged down by a few negatives. I love the title (it's one of the main reasons I chose to read it!) and the Hammerman mystery was intriguing, but I found the story to be a little sluggish at times, and didn't care for how the mysteries ended up intertwining. Also- WHY did it take Lydia so long to decode all of Joey's messages? It seems she could have just grabbed all the books at once ¯\_(ツ)_/¯
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  • Latkins
    March 23, 2017
    I really enjoyed this literary thriller. Lydia works at the Bright Ideas Bookstore in Denver, where she's particularly fond of the 'BookFrogs' - lonely, hard-up men who spend their days perusing the shelves. But one night, she finds one of them, young Joey, dead, having hanged himself. What's even more alarming is that he had a picture of her on her 10th birthday, 20 years earlier, in his pocket. How on earth did he acquire it? Lydia is hiding a traumatic event from her childhood, from her frien I really enjoyed this literary thriller. Lydia works at the Bright Ideas Bookstore in Denver, where she's particularly fond of the 'BookFrogs' - lonely, hard-up men who spend their days perusing the shelves. But one night, she finds one of them, young Joey, dead, having hanged himself. What's even more alarming is that he had a picture of her on her 10th birthday, 20 years earlier, in his pocket. How on earth did he acquire it? Lydia is hiding a traumatic event from her childhood, from her friends and her partner David. As a child, she was witness to a horrific multiple murder which has never been solved, and the killer 'the Hammerman' haunts her dreams. When she discovers that Joey had left a series of cryptic messages to her in a number of books, she starts investigating just what Joey knew about her and who he really was. It's an investigation which forces her to confront her demons.There was something about the gentle and calming aura of the bookshop contrasting with the horror of murder and suicide in this book which just works so well. The characters are clearly formed and their motivations and actions realistic. There was some hint that the present day strand is set in the early 90s - no mentions of the internet or mobile phones - and yet you sort of don't notice this when reading. This is a winner and should be a great success.
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  • KBev
    April 4, 2017
    Really loved this book! So unique and really kept me guessing til the very end, especially since it takes so long to figure out what Joey was trying to tell Lydia in the books he left her. Just really fun and an "unputdownable" book.
  • Ann
    March 10, 2017
    This is a very unusual story of a Lydia, young woman who works at the Bright Ideas Bookstore. One night Joey, a man who hangs out at the store commits suicide in the upstairs stacks with a picture of Lydia in his pocket. A photographer snaps a picture of Lydia as the police are removing Joey's body and starts a series of events that suddenly are not all coincidence. Lydia was the only survivor of a a mass murder by hiding under the kitchen sink when the "Hammerman" the host family of a sleepover This is a very unusual story of a Lydia, young woman who works at the Bright Ideas Bookstore. One night Joey, a man who hangs out at the store commits suicide in the upstairs stacks with a picture of Lydia in his pocket. A photographer snaps a picture of Lydia as the police are removing Joey's body and starts a series of events that suddenly are not all coincidence. Lydia was the only survivor of a a mass murder by hiding under the kitchen sink when the "Hammerman" the host family of a sleepover. Raj, her childhood friend sees the picture in the paper and contacts her. The police detective from the case sees the photo and contacts her. A great story with a lot of twists and turns that has you reading well past your bedtime. I really enjoyed the story and As a book store employee I was jealous of the wonderful sounding establishment. Great mystery and human interest story.
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  • Nancy McFarlane
    March 5, 2017
    Lydia is hiding from a horrible episode from her past and spends her life quietly doing what she loves – selling, reading and talking about books. Joey is a troubled youth who loves books and whom Lydia befriends. When Joey commits suicide and leaves all of his possessions to her, Lydia’s life becomes unraveled like no one could imagine. A picture in the paper of Lydia after the suicide brings people back into her life she never expected to see again, her father and her best friend from childhoo Lydia is hiding from a horrible episode from her past and spends her life quietly doing what she loves – selling, reading and talking about books. Joey is a troubled youth who loves books and whom Lydia befriends. When Joey commits suicide and leaves all of his possessions to her, Lydia’s life becomes unraveled like no one could imagine. A picture in the paper of Lydia after the suicide brings people back into her life she never expected to see again, her father and her best friend from childhood, Raj. Lydia slowly comes to the realization that Joey and her past are somehow linked. Midnight at the Bright Ideas Bookstore is a beautifully written sad but addictive mystery, with eccentric characters who you will love and plot twists that will keep you guessing to the end.
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  • Heidi
    March 12, 2017
    Matthew Sullivan's debut mystery is set in a Denver bookstore, the Brght Ideas bookstore. Main character, and bookseller, Lydia Smith, has a secret past life a new name and a steady relationship until one of her favorite bookstore customers commits suicide in her shop. Joey Molina leaves his few possessions to Lydia in an act that seems to defy logic and she is catapulted into the search for the reasons behind his suicide. Book and mystery lovers will savor this novel for its bookish setting, or Matthew Sullivan's debut mystery is set in a Denver bookstore, the Brght Ideas bookstore. Main character, and bookseller, Lydia Smith, has a secret past life a new name and a steady relationship until one of her favorite bookstore customers commits suicide in her shop. Joey Molina leaves his few possessions to Lydia in an act that seems to defy logic and she is catapulted into the search for the reasons behind his suicide. Book and mystery lovers will savor this novel for its bookish setting, original plot, excellent pacing, and compellingly bibliophilic characters. Don't miss this one!
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  • Amy
    March 26, 2017
    As a Denver resident AND former TC employee, this book was terribly fun on a very basic level . . . there aren't as many books about Denver's Downtown as some other cities get, so I was tickled to "get" the local references . . . and to see something like the Tattered Cover brought to life in all its "golden age" quirkiness. And the story was engrossing to say the least . . . the mysterious suicide, Lydia's secret past . . . letting Mr. Sullivan weave it all together was a lovely way to spend a As a Denver resident AND former TC employee, this book was terribly fun on a very basic level . . . there aren't as many books about Denver's Downtown as some other cities get, so I was tickled to "get" the local references . . . and to see something like the Tattered Cover brought to life in all its "golden age" quirkiness. And the story was engrossing to say the least . . . the mysterious suicide, Lydia's secret past . . . letting Mr. Sullivan weave it all together was a lovely way to spend a weekend. A great beach read for those literary sorts.
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  • Lynn
    March 6, 2017
    A perfectly sparkling mystery surrounding the untimely death of a man named Joey, who hanged himself in the Bright Ideas bookstore. Lydia, the bookstore owner, found Joey, and found, in his pocket, a photograph of a child's birthday party. The child was Lydia. But Lydia didn't know Joey in childhood, is puzzled by this photo and his connection to it, and decides to investigate. I read this EARCcourtesy of Scribner/Simon & Schuster. Pub date 06/13/17
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  • Linda
    February 24, 2017
    What a pleasant surprise this book was. I was all set to not like it and it grabbed me from the very first and I didn't want to put it down. I thought I had it figured out but boy was I wrong! Close but no cigar! A compelling, eerie, bizarre mystery. Highly recommended!This book is expected to be released in June. Add it to your list!
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  • Jessica White
    May 22, 2017
    It's closing time and Lydia is locking up at Bright Ideas, the local bookstore she works at. But something tonight just doesn't feel right. Are all of her regular bookfrogs gone or are some still in the building? What Lydia finds is that all but one of her bookfrogs are gone... but one is not leaving her. Joey, the quiet kid that claims books saved his life, has hanged himself on the upper level of the store. Under complete shock, panic, pain, guilt, Lydia finds a childhood picture of herself in It's closing time and Lydia is locking up at Bright Ideas, the local bookstore she works at. But something tonight just doesn't feel right. Are all of her regular bookfrogs gone or are some still in the building? What Lydia finds is that all but one of her bookfrogs are gone... but one is not leaving her. Joey, the quiet kid that claims books saved his life, has hanged himself on the upper level of the store. Under complete shock, panic, pain, guilt, Lydia finds a childhood picture of herself in his pocket... But why would he have that? He only shopped at her store, they weren't exactly friends. Turns out, Joey thought very highly of her and actually left all of his belongings to her. All of his belongings and many, many secrets for her to uncover. But uncovering Joey's secrets means she has to uncover many of her own. Can she relive her experiences of the HammerMan? Can she handle rekindling her friendship with Raj? Is she prepared for the overwhelming amount of pressure bestowed upon her all because of Joey, a boy she barely knew?Turns out, Joey has secrets he didn't want to keep.Raj had secrets he didn't even know existed.Lydia knew who the HammerMan was all along.But did her father have more information than he knew?I love, love, love this book and am so appreciative of NetGalley for providing me an advanced copy of it!Mark your calendars, Midnight at the Bright Ideas Bookstore hits shelves June 13th! This review and more can be found at A Reader's Diary!
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  • Lady Heather
    May 20, 2017
    Publication Date: June 13, 2017 Booksource: Netgalley in exchange for an honest review
  • Casey (caseyrosereads)
    April 8, 2017
    “Midnight at the Bright Ideas Bookstore”- I love the title of this book. It immediately offers me a world that I want to step into, one of books and possibly something whimsical or nefarious, depending on what kind of association you produce for the idea of midnight .It turns out that in actually there is less whimsy and more horror, and yet this chilling mystery book has a kind of earnestness at the center of it all that keeps the characters real and the readers sympathetic. This story did not “Midnight at the Bright Ideas Bookstore”- I love the title of this book. It immediately offers me a world that I want to step into, one of books and possibly something whimsical or nefarious, depending on what kind of association you produce for the idea of midnight .It turns out that in actually there is less whimsy and more horror, and yet this chilling mystery book has a kind of earnestness at the center of it all that keeps the characters real and the readers sympathetic. This story did not have me guessing until the very last page, but I didn’t mind that. Rather, as the carefully laid pieces of the puzzle began to come together I was pleased that nothing was far-fetched, nothing strained credulity, and the effect of the whole story coming together was one that allowed for there to be a certain amount of closure for many of the characters, something that is often left out of the more chilling thrillers. What the blurb did get perfectly right was the blend of heart-pounding scenes (I looked at my kitchen sink differently for a whole day) and capturing the culture of an independent bookstore and the kind of people who work there, especially in an urban area during the 1990s. I both wanted to be like them, and was wonderfully apart from them. It was a delight to meet all these people who were never shaped to be perfect corporate cogs. There is more than one mystery presented in this book, most of them revealing their secrets, and some of them, in the case of the people themselves, remain slightly unknowable. Overall I liked going on this adventure with these characters. It didn’t have the “I didn’t see that coming” twists, or the kind of dark tension that is the cornerstone of other thrillers, which tend to be my favorites, but I truly enjoyed how cohesive the story was, and how much I rooted for Lydia to be okay.This review was made possible thanks to an advanced copy from NetGalley and the publisher.
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  • Theresa
    April 13, 2017
    I received an ARC from Edelweiss for this one. I requested it based on the title, so it should come as no surprise that it was not at ALL what I was expecting. Other than that I have no big issues with the book. It's pretty much...just alright. I do believe it'll go out well in a public library.
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