[ARC REVIEW] Midnight at the Bright Ideas Bookstore by Matthew J. Sullivan

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33011225Title: Midnight at the Bright Ideas Bookstore
Author: Matthew J. Sullivan
Publisher: Cornerstone Digital
Pub. Date: August 24th, 2017
Genre: Mystery, Thriller
Format: eARC
Source: NetGalley
Rating: ★★★.5

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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.

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, Lydia’s life comes unglued. Always Joey’s favorite bookseller, Lydia has inherited his meager worldly possessions. Trinkets and books; the detritus of a lonely 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.

MY REVIEW

      Nefariously deceptive and thriving with mystery, Midnight at the Bright Ideas Bookstore is a book that keeps you guessing. This is a journey of loss and regret, facing the past and finding answers.

At the age of 30 and working right where she belongs, in a bokstore, Lydia leads a quiet, simple life. But when one of her favourite BookFrogs commits suicide in the store, Lydia’s life spirals downward. Desperate for answers and to understand why Joey left her his possessions, she tries to uncode his messages and thus, reveals secrets buried so deeply that even when she thinks she has the answers, there’s more to find. Struggling with the loss of him and the past she can’t escape from, Lydia faces many trials in the novel.

Lydia has had a tough childhood. After an encounter with the Hammerman, her father took her and they fled town to live in an isolated cabin far from any prying eyes. Little by little he became distant, cold, and otherwise unattached. Suffice to say that Lydia has some issues concerning commitment, family, and speaking of her past since her father refused to let her talk about that night. Brave and strong however, Lydia survived and now she will survive Joey’s death too, even when it brings up those horrid memories and has people from her past running to catch up with her.

This book is full of mystery. There’s so many questions, such as why Joey left everything to Lydia, and why he left her such complex and devious messages to figure out. To discover why Joey took his left, Lydia has to scramble around to try and find answers of his adoption and the her he keeps referring to in his messages. But can she handle the truth when it connects back to her childhood, back to that horrible day? I enjoyed reading this book as the mystery kept me on the edge of my seat. It was a journey that I couldn’t stop reading about.

What was unfortunate however, is that the narrative was rather distant so I couldn’t connect to anything or anyone at all. It made it easier to put the book down and harder to stay utterly immersed in the story. The pace was very slow as well and thus rendered some chapters as fillers and rather a bit boring, and the characters well they were all very similar. We never really get a true insight into any of the characters except Lydia. Even when they offer up their past, it’s all about actions and not emotions or personality.

Overall, Midnight at the Bright Ideas Bookstore is a thrilling mystery that will make you cringe, shudder, and flip the next page until the end. While I had some issues, it was still an enjoyable read.

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