©2023 Fable Group Inc.

Midnight at the Bright Ideas Bookstore

By Matthew Sullivan
Midnight at the Bright Ideas Bookstore by Matthew Sullivan digital book - Fable

Why read on Fable?

Discover social reading

Chat inside the ebook with emojis, comments and more

Annotate with notes, tabs, and highlights

Share or keep your notes private with our annotation features

Support the World Literacy Foundation

We donate 20% of every book sale to help children learn to read

Publisher Description

When a bookshop patron commits suicide, his favorite store clerk must unravel the puzzle he left behind in this “intriguingly dark, twisty” (Kirkus Reviews) 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. “Both charming and challenging” (Marilyn Stasio, The New York Times Book Review), Midnight at the Bright Ideas Bookstore is a “multi-generational tale of abandonment, desperation, and betrayal…inventive and intricately plotted” (Publishers Weekly, starred review).

67 Reviews

“eh. I really wanted to love this!”
“This book didn't grab me as much as I would have liked, nor was I particularly attached to any of the characters... except for maybe Raj. The idea of the Hammerman was really spooky and kept me up one night, but I wasn't reaching for the book, desperate to find out who the murderer was. This is also a really sad book, with a lot of heartache and trauma built into it. I liked the bookshop and the idea of the BookFrogs and wanted to know more about that and less about Lydia. I also felt bad for David... he just wanted to be part of Lydia's life.”
“A story about a mysterious suicide, the protagonist’s mysterious past and how it should all be connected was enough to catch my attention. This was another book that was hard to put down for me. I was so curious to know who Joey Molina was, who the Hammerman was, but most of all the journey to finding out was an enjoyable experience. I will admit that there were too much coincidences for the story to be entirely realistic. I had actually expected to nobody ever finding out who the Hammerman was and it probably made more sense than it all coming together so neatly. However I chose to overlook this since the writing was so lovely. The characters on the other hand, did feel very realistic. I fell in love with the bookstore and its interesting”
“Dealing with an incoming hurricane makes me nervous, anxious, all the above. Reading usually helps me get out of reality for a little while so I decided to read this for the first half of my day at and WOW this book reels you in. Part flashback, part present. The way the book starts is a bit jerky but once the first twist is revealed, I did not want to put this book down! I lost track of time, which I needed to lower my pulse with all the anxiety and this book did just the thing.”
“Midnight at the Bright Ideas Bookstore by Matthew J. Sullivan is a roller coaster ride of a story. When “bookfrog” Joey commits suicide at the bookstore, Bookseller Lydia discovers a picture in his pocket-of her as a child! Then after she “inherits” a bunch of books Joey has cut up into puzzles, the mystery deepens. In the midst of solving this mystery, Lydia remembers a violent night in her childhood she had buried. Relationships merge, more mysteries are revealed, plot twists that you never saw coming happen. I really had a fun time at the Bright Ideas Bookstore!”

About Matthew Sullivan

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.

Start a Book Club

Start a public or private book club with this book on the Fable app today!


Do I have to buy the ebook to participate in a book club?

Why can’t I buy the ebook on the app?

How is Fable’s reader different from Kindle?

Do you sell physical books too?

Are book clubs free to join on Fable?

How do I start a book club with this book on Fable?

Error Icon
Save to a list
Private List
Private lists are not visible to other Fable users on your public profile.
Notification Icon