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Midnight at the Bright Ideas Bookstore: A Novel (Hardcover)

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Staff Reviews

As a lifelong bookseller it is always delightful to find a mystery set in a bookstore. And it’s doubly exciting to find a story set in Denver. This book was a real treat for me, being set in both! Matthew Sullivan lays out for us an engrossing thriller about the decisions and lies in the past coming to haunt the present. Quirky bookstore characters and spot on descriptions of LoDo before it was fancy, round out this enjoyable mystery.

— Liesl

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


Goodreads Debut Author of the Month and an Indie Next Pick!

“Sullivan’s debut is a page-turner featuring a heroine bookseller who solves a cold case with clues from books—what is not to love?” —Nina George, author of The Little French Bistro, and the New York Times bestselling The Little Paris Bookshop

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.​

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.

Praise For…

"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
Product Details
ISBN: 9781501116841
ISBN-10: 1501116843
Publisher: Scribner
Publication Date: June 13th, 2017
Pages: 336
Language: English
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