Midnight at the Bright Ideas Bookstore by Matthew Sullivan

Midnight at the Bright Ideas BookstoreMidnight at the Bright Ideas Bookstore by Matthew J. Sullivan
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Lydia works in a bookstore and is in a happy relationship with her boyfriend David. But she harbors a secret, a violent one, from her past. The funky local bookstore is home to a collection of characters she calls the BookFrogs. One day, one of her favorite BookFrogs, a troubled young man named Joey, hangs himself in the store. This tragic act opens up a cascade of events reopening her troubled past and changing the fate of several of the characters in the book.

The story is slow to get going, but it eventually unfolds into something like a traditional mystery. The characters, including Lydia, are not entirely likeable for various reasons. One bugaboo I have is that many of them smoke, which to this author is apparently still a cool thing to do and makes people attractive. (NOT!) This fallacy is still prevalent in movies and TV, I’m afraid, but I digress. The pace of the book is good once the plot gets into full swing about halfway through. The story is told in two temporal stages, switching from the present day to Lydia’s childhood, another irritating but currently popular stylistic choice. The clues to the mystery are doled out sparingly but fairly so that the astute reader can begin to see a glimmer of the solution before it arrives, but the full resolution isn’t revealed until the end. There were a few loose ends that were never explained, like Joey’s unusual manner of “writing” to Lydia before his death. The ending, especially the epilogue, was not entirely satisfying to me, but it avoided cliches and sappiness that might have been worse.

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