Midnight at the Bright Ideas Bookstore (Paperback)

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Staff Reviews

Former Tattered Cover bookseller Matt Sullivan’s debut literary mystery is an entertaining page-turner and affectionate salute to independent bookstores. Lydia Smith is a bookseller at The Bright Ideas Bookstore, a thinly disguised Historic Lodo Tattered Cover sometime in the 1990’s. Late one night as she’s closing the store she discovers that Joey Molina, one of her favorite young regulars, has hung himself in the store, a photo of her as a child in his jeans pocket. Devastated and confronted with a link to a violent crime she survived as a child, Lydia struggles to uncover the reason for Joey’s suicide and what his connection is to her past. Midnight at the Bright Ideas Bookstore is a gripping read and a knowing nod to all who pass their time in bookstores. 


— Cathy Langer

June 2017 Indie Next List

“Still reeling from witnessing a tragic event many years ago, Lydia is thrown headfirst into yet another tragedy after one of her favorite bookshop patrons commits suicide in the store and mysteriously leaves all his possessions to her. As Lydia follows the thread that he leaves her, she finds out more about him, her town, and even her own past. Midnight at the Bright Ideas Bookstore is a great book that keeps you guessing. Highly recommended for fans of a good mystery.”
— Will Bason (E), Book People, Austin, TX


When a bookshop patron commits suicide, his favorite store clerk must unravel the puzzle he left behind in this "intriguingly dark, twisty" (Kirkus Reviews) 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. "Both charming and challenging" (Marilyn Stasio, The New York Times Book Review), Midnight at the Bright Ideas Bookstore is a "multi-generational tale of abandonment, desperation, and betrayal...inventive and intricately plotted" (Publishers Weekly, starred review).
Product Details
ISBN: 9781501116858
ISBN-10: 1501116851
Publisher: Scribner Book Company
Publication Date: January 9th, 2018
Pages: 352
Language: English