The Brown Baggers met on Thursday, January 16 to discuss Matthew Sullivan’s novel, Midnight at the Bright Ideas Bookstore. Sullivan, a short story writer and former bookseller at The Tattered Cover Bookstore in Denver and Brookline Booksmith in Boston, pays homage to his bookselling days with this literary mystery set in a Denver bookstore.
When Joey, a regular patron at the Bright Ideas Bookstore, commits suicide in the shop, the life of bookstore clerk Lydia is turned upside down. Bequeathed with Joey’s possessions, Lydia finds herself unraveling a series mysterious clues Joey has left hidden in books. As she gets closer to deciphering Joey’s message, Lydia must confront a violent memory of her own past with unanswered questions, including the identity of a murderer known as the Hammerman.
Many of the Brown Baggers noted that as a mystery, the book kept them on their toes. Like any good psychological thriller, Sullivan keeps his readers guessing as he balances two puzzles: Joey’s cryptic messages and the cold case from Lydia’s childhood. No one was able to identify the murderer before they were identified, which kept them wanting to read on. As a “literary mystery,” however, the book felt too contrived and not as well written as others in the genre. Despite the intricate plot, or perhaps because of it, there were too many coincidences and the connections between seemingly unrelated characters too farfetched to be realistic.
The Brown Baggers will discuss The Woman in the Dunes by Kobo Abe on Thursday, February 20 at 12pm in the Central Library and newcomers are always welcome.
Other Books Mentioned:
Mr. Penumbra’s 24-Hour Bookstore by Robin Sloan
The Murder of Roger Ackroyd by Agatha Christie