Midnight at the Bright Ideas Bookstore: A Novel (Paperback)
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).
About the Author
Matthew Sullivan received his MFA from the University of Idaho and has been a resident writer at Yaddo, Centrum, and the Vermont Studio Center. His short stories have been awarded the Robert Olen Butler Fiction Prize and the Florida Review Editor’s Prize for Fiction and have been published in many journals, including The Chattahoochee Review, Painted Bride Quarterly, Fugue, Evansville Review, and 580-Split. In addition to working for years at Tattered Cover Bookstore in Denver and at Brookline Booksmith in Boston, he currently teaches writing, literature, and film at Big Bend Community College in the high desert of Washington State. The author of Midnight at the Bright Ideas Bookstore, he is married to a librarian and has two children.
"With Midnight at the Bright Ideas Bookstore, Matthew Sullivan has written—with great panache and suspense—a smart, twisty crime novel filled with compelling characters set in a world that book-lovers will adore."—Jess Walter, # 1 New York Times bestselling author of Beautiful Ruins
"This book ticked all the boxes for me: an engaging heroine, an intriguing premise, interesting characters and a plot that involved books, readers and the very darkest human passions. A fantastic, assured debut."—Elly Griffiths, author of The Crossing Places
“There is a clever, erudite puzzle plot in this bookish mystery, along with whip-smart writing. Matthew Sullivan’s debut is stylish and entertaining.”—Ellen Crosby, author of The Champagne Conspiracy
"An intriguingly dark, twisty story and eccentric characters make this book a standout."--Kirkus Reviews
“Quirky characters and a keen sense of place distinguish this multi-generational tale of abandonment, desperation, and betrayal . . . inventive and intricately plotted.” —Publishers Weekly, starred review
“This quirky debut novel will have particular appeal for puzzle solvers and booklovers.” —Booklist
“Though darker than other beloved novels set in bookstores, this story will appeal to fans of Gabrielle Zevin’s The Storied Life of A.J. Fikry and Katarina Bivald’s The Readers of Broken Wheel Recommend. Mystery readers will also appreciate the clever connections between the characters and the crimes.” —Library Journal
“Personally, I couldn’t resist Matthew Sullivan’s Midnight at the Bright Ideas Bookstore, an appealing first novel....The oddball characters and layered plot make this puzzle mystery both charming and challenging.” —Marilyn Stasio, The New York Times Book Review
“A strong debut. . . powerful, intricate tale of broken friendship and family loyalties.” —The Seattle Times
“Twisty and dark, Midnight at the Bright Ideas Bookstore is a remarkable debut that will leave readers unsettled and probably yearning to pay a visit to their local bookstore.” —BookPage
“Shocking, charming and thrilling . . . With compelling characters and rich descriptions, Sullivan’s writing is spot-on. Sullivan nails it, delivering a captivating conflict plus masterfully executed prose.” —Associated Press
“Readers will find that Sullivan had a bright idea, indeed.” —St. Louis Post Dispatch
“A quick, enjoyable read.” —The Muskogee Phoenix