When a bookshop patron commits suicide, his favorite store clerk must unravel the puzzle he left behind. 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.
I received a free copy of this book courtesy of the publisher.
I have been looking forward to starting this book for some time now. The premise caught my eye, the idea of it being a little bit of a riddle, wrapped in a mystery, inside an enigma. A local down and out, Joey, who frequents the Bright Ideas Bookstore, he strikes up a friendship with Lydia, a bookseller with a broken history. Having survived an horrific murder at a sleepover as a child, Lydia struggles through life making the best of things that she can. One night Joey is found in the bookstore, having taken his own life, by Lydia. That alone was unexpected enough, but the discovery of a photo from Lydia’s childhood birthday with two young friends only adds to the confusion.
From this shocking revelation the story unravels into an avalanche of mysteries and secrets. As a massive fan of mystery novels I was really excited to see where this one would lead. Unfortunately that excitement was short lived. It took until well beyond the halfway mark for the mysteries to begin to make sense and the rest of the book followed suit.
While the book was unpredictable in terms of the scope and nature of the mysteries it really did not rescue the book for me. It felt like it ground along far too slowly, and with a lead in Lydia who as far too inward-looking, I really struggled to push through. I found it a real struggle as it limped from one revelation to the next. Much as I wanted to like it, it just moved too slowly. I am sure for many, the mysteries and the plot will be entertaining, but my predilection for fast-paced, high-octane mysteries this did not work for me.