Midnight at the Bright Ideas Bookstore, by Matthew Sullivan

Reviewed by Anne-Sophie Olsen


Lydia thought she had silenced the past for good. Twenty years have safely distanced her from the violent incident with the “Hammerman” and she is now contentedly employed at the Bright Ideas bookstore. But when a Bright Ideas regular hangs himself in the stacks, ghosts from Lydia’s past start to rear their ugly heads with clues that make the certainties of her childhood seem less and less reliable. Now she must delve into the dark events of both the past and the present, and find out how they are linked. In this intriguing debut, Matthew Sullivan has played unrelentingly with revelatory effect. Though his characters are largely unconvincing, the reader may not notice (or not care) and overlook this out of the simple desire to find out “what really happened” and “why.”
Unfortunately, Lydia’s love of books, which seems to promise literary depth for the novel’s detective work, plays a decorative role at best, and Lydia herself is more irritating than sympathetic. Nevertheless, despite having more plot than personality, the novel is an intricately woven page-turner with enough mystery to hold interest.

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