Midnight at the Bright Ideas Bookstore

Midnight at the Bright Ideas Bookstore was a nifty mystery, set against the backdrop of a quirky bookstore, and I quite enjoyed it. The story follows Lydia, a bookseller with a dark and secretive past. She works at the titular Bright Ideas Bookstore, where she enjoys interacting with the shop’s regulars, whom she has deemed the BookFrogs. An eclectic bunch, the BookFrogs are mainly men (young and old) who have nowhere else to go and seek refuge in the bookstore from all life has thrown at them. One night, Lydia discovers the body of one of the BookFrogs, Joey, who has hung himself in the bookstore. A young, troubled 20-something, Joey had only a best friend and Lydia as his connection to the world. He leaves Lydia all of his belongings, and among those belongings, he leaves a mystery of his final days for her to uncover. As she delves deeper into Joey’s life, she realizes it may have unsettling connections to her own hidden past. (This is a spoiler-free review. I never share anything that you can’t find in the book’s description.)

This book was a straightforward mystery for the most part, and not my typical read. Lydia is an interesting character, and the walls she has built up around herself make a lot of sense as you discover more and more about her past. What I really loved about this book was the central focus of books to the narrative. I’m a sucker for books about the love of books, and that love runs deeply throughout these pages. From the setting of a bookstore that sounds fairly amazing, to the use of books to convey Joey’s message to Lydia, and in countless other ways, the author shows that books are important and necessary to our lives, and can sometimes even save them.

The mystery was good, and it kept me guessing until the end, and then I guessed it a little before the book got there, but that’s okay. The aura of mystery is enhanced by the lack of deep character development of characters surrounding Laura. While I usually look for in depth character development of intriguing people, we are mostly reading from Lydia’s (third-person) perspective and her closed-offness is likely the reason for this lack of depth and perception at times. There are also random chapters that are from others’ points of view, but they only serve to enhance the mystery (and occasionally help enlighten the reader). As I kept reading the book, I found it increasingly harder to put down (and finished the last 70% or so in about 2 hours).

Overall, if you’re looking for an interesting mystery (I wouldn’t necessarily go all out into thriller to classify this one), I recommend this book. I especially recommend it if you like novels that help you articulate your passion for books, and remind you of why books are so important in the first place (as if you needed the reminder). If you’re intrigued, Midnight at the Bright Ideas Bookstore is out today (06/13) from Scribner.

Note: I received this book from Netgalley and the publisher in exchange for a fair and honest review.

Rating: 3.75 out of 4 stars

More Information: Goodreads, Amazon, Author Website



6 thoughts on “Review: Midnight at the Bright Ideas Bookstore by Matthew J. Sullivan

  1. I also adore books about books! This sounds up my alley– I like mystery but not thriller. I’ll have to keep an eye out for this one. I’m actually quite surprised that the lack of character development helped the novel. This is a new idea for me! I’ll have to keep an eye out for that. Character development is critical to my love of books, but perhaps I’ve been unfairly judging some books?


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