Midnight at the Bright Ideas Bookstore

Midnight at the Bright Ideas Bookstore by Matthew J. Sullivan
Rating: 4 stars

This was a treasure to read from start to finish.  I love books about / set in bookstores, so a mystery set in a bookstore was too good to pass up (like Shadow of the WindMr. Penumbra’s 24-Hour BookstoreThe Storied Life of A.J. Fikry, and The Thirteenth Tale).  I was drawn in by the suicide in the bookstore, but the larger unsolved mystery of the Hammerman is what kept me hooked until the end.

Lydia Smith, a clerk at the Bright Ideas bookstore, has worked hard to put her past behind her and live a quiet life centered around her job and her boyfriend David.  David is the only man who hasn’t tried to poke into her past, which Lydia prefers considering Smith isn’t her last name.  She changed it to avoid any recognition after the harrowing murder she witnessed when she was ten, and it’s still unsolved.  She thought her past was behind her until the night one of her customers, a troubled 20 year old named Joey, commits suicide on the top floor of the bookstore with a picture from Lydia’s childhood in his pocket.

How did Joey get that picture?  What does it mean?  Lydia is also left with Joey’s personal books, only to find them mislabeled and riddled with holes.  One clue leads to another as Lydia is forced to confront her past and find the missing link between Joey and the Hammerman murders.

The mystery was good, but it took a much darker turn than expected when investigating Joey’s suicide leads to the gory triple murder from Lydia’s childhood.  It wasn’t too difficult to guess the murderer, but there were plenty of clues hidden throughout to keep me engaged until the final chapter.

I recommend this to anyone interested in a mystery or the secret lives of booksellers.

Any other books set in bookstores I should check out?  Let me know in the comments!

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