Monday, 24 July 2017

Midnight at the Bright Ideas Bookstore by Matthew Sullivan

Book Review

Midnight at the Bright Ideas Book Store by Matthew Sullivan - Reading, Writing, Booking

"To the inexperienced, many BookFrogs appeared as derelict or homeless, but to the seasoned eye it was clear that they'd shed themselves of the world, rejecting its costumes and rules in favour of paper and words."

Midnight at the Bright Ideas Bookstore will be released on 24th August. It is published by William Heinemann and written by Matthew Sullivan.

This book really surprised me. I thought it would be a cosy murder mystery with a quaint book shop at the centre. But not at all, Midnight at the Bright Ideas Bookstore unravels two mysteries with the perfect balance between a cutesy mystery and a goreish shock-fest.

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.

I really enjoyed Sullivan's writing, I found it vastly different from a lot of mysteries out there at the moment. As I said, I was expecting a cosy mystery, which it isn't, but neither is it in your face, blood and gore. Sullivan deals with violence, but manages to get just the right balance, revealing enough to horrify the reader but not so much that it's overkill (no pun intended).

There are two mysteries, why 'BookFrog' Joey commits suicide and who committed the atrocity that Lydia is hiding in her past. Of course, the mysteries interweave and I felt Sullivan revealed the vital plot points at just the right time, not dragging it out until it becomes boring.

Midnight at the Bright Ideas Book Store has a lot more depth than your average thriller, it is a very layered book and every time you think you're at the bottom of it another element crops up.

The characters are wonderfully explored, with realistic yet quirky personalities which make them engaging. I especially liked Sullivan's descriptions of people which are incredibly unique.

"David was truly a pure-hearted guy, an upbeat mama's boy with wavy hair and beautiful eyes who just wanted to split breakfast burritos with Lydia until death."

However, I did find that a couple of the secondary characters sort of fizzled out, having fulfilled their purpose in the plot we don't hear anything else from them, and I wanted things tied up a bit.

One of my favourite things about Midnight at the Bright Ideas Book Store is that it is a book that will appeal to book lovers. It's almost an ode to books and the way they can save a life. I'm sure all bibliophiles will recognise elements of themselves in the BookFrogs.

There were a couple of elements though that stuck out for me; mainly that I still had a lot of questions at the end, and I also sometimes found Lydia a little pretentious. But then, you don't have to love a character to love a book. And I did love this book.

My  Rating: 4/5

I received a copy of Midnight at the Bright Ideas Bookstore via NetGalley in return for an honest review. My thanks to the author and publisher.

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  1. Sounds like an interestingly fun read:)

    1. It is, I'd recommend it. Thanks for reading.