Midnight at the Bright Ideas Bookstore: A Novel
Every bookstore has its regulars, becoming a home-away-from-home for all sorts of quirky individuals. But for bookshop employee Lydia, things change in an instant when one of her regulars hangs himself in the store. He leaves behind a single clue: a photo of Lydia as a child. As Lydia delves into the young man’s life, she uncovers more connections to her past, including the event that changed her life forever: the night she survived an attack by a murderer called the Hammerman.
This is really a story of two books. The first is a novel about lost people who somehow find each other. That book is curious, quirky, sad, and engaging. But as the book continues, it becomes a small-town prime time soap, one where the threads are so entangled that it begins to seem preposterous rather than tightly-plotted.
And when all the mysteries are unraveled, no one really seems happier for it. The last 40 pages or so border on misery porn as everything turns to shit for every character when the secrets are out. The mystery is well-constructed and Lydia is an engaging character, but it’s all a bit too downbeat by the end.