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.
Lydia is hiding from her past and her life is quiet, ordinary and (she thinks) fulfilling until a regular patron of the bookstore she works in commits suicide and makes sure she is there to find him. What happens after this devastating incident forces Lydia to revisit her past for reasons she (and you) will be surprised by.
Lydia is a very believable character and I found her story and feelings to be relatable even though the plot of this story is full of twists and turns most of us will never experience in real life. The secondary cast of characters were also touching and funny. I especially enjoyed Plath, Lydia's co-worker and friend.
I found this book to be intriguing and even though I figured out the "who dunnit" part it was at the very last second and Lydia was right behind me. This book is dark and had a slightly surprising twist that I did not guess and I am so glad I picked this one up to read. 4/5 stars
*I read this book for my 2017 Reading Challenge-A Book Recommended by Someone with Great Taste. This one was recommended by a friend in my book club and since it was already in my Pile, I went with it. I only have two more left-can I do it??????
Author's site: http://www.matthewjsullivan.com/