Author : Matthew J. Sullivan
Publisher : Atria Paperback
Pub Date: June 2017
Source : Own copy
Get the book from Amazon.in.
You can find my review in Goodreads page as well.
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 have this thing for books that have a plot based on a bookstore or library and when I came across this book on Amazon, the blurb caught my eye and I decided to buy it. Its told in first person by Lydia Smith and begins when she discovers one of her store’s frequent and enigmatic customer – Joey who has killed himself inside the store! what follows is even more unexpected events in Lydia’s life as she is given his possessions – his books – as per his wish. She is confused because she isn’t that close with him and Joey had always been kind of a loner and a person of few words. Things get interesting when the books contain cryptic messages from Joey that somehow makes Lydia believe they were left for a reason and she is equally scared and intrigued because of her own personal trauma haunting her from the past.
The narrative was a bit dry and often I was losing interest but that could be just me, because I was reading this book in parts, for a really long time. But once Lydia’s past and Joey’s death started looking like they were connected, I was hooked, because I couldn’t for the life of me guess how this young man was even remotely linked to her past life. The cryptic messages weren’t making any sense to me, but believe me when you finish the book everything falls into piece and you cant stop emoting for Joey 😦 I might have cried a little !!
The book was full of bizarre characters from the bookstore (Joey including), Lydia’s boyfriend and how they all were not aware of Lydia’s haunting past because she , well, changes her last name and all that, but I kept wanting to read only about what the hell happened 20 years ago. How Lydia becomes estranged to her father is told so very well , because for both of them to undergo such a horrific experience in their life and then move on leading a normal one would seem completely deceiving.
All along the book, if I could point out one character that was so beautifully portrayed, with all the gory and drab details – the single parent’s struggle in raising a daughter, protecting her and coping with the aftermath of a trauma – is Tomas, Lydia’s father.
The second half and especially the climax is emotionally toiling because of reunions and unraveled mysteries. And that’s definitely great because this book needs it!. It starts of dry, moves on in a mystery and ends in an emotional and a sensitive note.
“…..he’d spent his whole life trying in vain to find a place that, for him, was never allowed to exist.”
I definitely recommend this book to anyone who loves a good mystery.
My rating 4 stars