Midnight at the Bright Ideas Bookstore review

bookshelves: mysterythrillerfavoritesbibliophiles

Recommended to Dustin by: Morgannah
Recommended for: the brokenhearted.
Rating: 5/5 stars


FULL DISCLOSURE: I’ve known the author for several years. First and foremost, as my college English professor. Later, he served as a mentor of sorts, for as times lapsed, we got to know each each other, to a degree. We discussed books and writing and ambition. Even now, I look back on those subsequent conversations, as well as those in the classroom, with the utmost fondness and appreciation. You helped mold me into the reader and writer that I’ve become. Thank you.

Anyone could argue that my opinions are biased, and perhaps they’d have a point, but they’re not going to change. If I had never heard of Matthew J. Sullivan prior to picking up his book, I would still feel the same way. I know I would.

An orthodox mystery

The genre tends to feature underdeveloped characters and predictability. From very early on, Sullivan took a deceptively simple concept and spun it on its multi-faceted axis, without ever sounding pompous, stale, or dull. In fact, his prose flew, naturally and succinctly, albeit somewhat heavy-handed on two distinct levels: metaphorically and his use of similes, which basically came down to verbosity. Regarding that point, however, I’m afraid I’m just nitpicking because, for the most part, said metaphors and similes worked. They served the purpose of informing his audience.

In between the past and present (the latter almost seeming to fluctuate between present day and those of Generation X,) Sullivan refused to the dodge several key issues, the least of which was the everyday struggles of single parenthood. Nor did he forsake the most important element of fiction, the cornerstone of creating a compelling and memorable narrative: character development. He clearly put forth a lot of effort crafting them, but more importantly, he put a lot thought behind them. These weren’t just surface details he was working with, either. With passion, precision and a certain grace, he was interested in their various and multi-cultural idiosyncrasies. And given the genre, it makes sense that he was also interested in exploring the darker side of life, where abound secrets were the foundation of everything else.

I loved reading about and becoming acclimated to these characters, some of whom I miss dearly. Lydia, for instance, and a handful of others, quickly became like good friends. She, Plath and Raj (or like-minded individuals,) are definitely people I can see myself befriending in real life.

I liked every character except for the killer. Even Maya. Despite her actions, I understand why she did them, and why she felt like she had to resort to them. And isn’t that all any of us can ask for? Eventually, I even liked Moberg, and felt a similar sense of understanding towards him, as well. I just wanted more, that’s all.

Midnight at the Bright Ideas Bookstore is very well-written, exploring timeless and germane issues. What’s more, it’s done without a pedantic or didactic agenda. The dialogue is equally brisk and crisp. Matthew Sullivan’s taut, unorthodox thriller delivers on many levels. Actually, it delivers on just about every one. It’s at times smart, but not too smart. It’s also clever and unique in ways that practically redefine the genre. With sufficient twists and a style all his own, Sullivan’s debut novel fires on all cylinders.

’She looked like a woman who lived in a world where unwanted babies had to be buried in the dark.’

It was an honor and a privilege to read and review this powerhouse of a novel. I’m looking forward to the next one.


2 thoughts on “Midnight at the Bright Ideas Bookstore review

  1. I LOVED your Review. First off. I think it’s cool that you were friends with the Author himself.
    The Review was good. It’s good that you get to know the Characters and want to become good friends with them(likable Characters).
    It ALWAYS seems, Dustin, that you write a Review, that first–You don’t want the Review to end, that you want more of the Review.
    But, with that said, the question is: Did the Review make me want to go out one and buy the Book? The answer is: Yes.
    Your Review was so good that it makes me want to know to Read the Book for myself.
    Thanks so much for the Review, Dustin. I can’t wait to Read many more of your Reviews.

  2. Thank you, Teresa. Your opinions are always refreshing, and you make me smile.

    Agreed, you definitely want to own and read “Bright Ideas.” It quickly became one of my new favorite books.

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