Midnight at the Bright Ideas Bookstore by Matthew Sullivan

Lydia has established a life for herself after suffering a particularly traumatic event as a child. She works in the Bright Ideas Bookstore (named for the light bulb factory previously in residence) and collects “Book Frogs” – lost souls who inhabit the book store and find the same solace in reading as she does.  One day, seemingly of nowhere, Joey, her favorite Book Frog, hangs himself from the third floor just after closing.

Alternating between the present and her childhood we are presented with two mysteries that slowly resolve together.  More of a novel than a standard mystery, there is real attention to character, motivation, and tangled relationships. Books, libraries, librarians and a love of reading are ubiquitous.   Many of the characters are troubled and  a lot of effort is made to motivate their actions from their experiences. I found many of these connections be a bit too pat, more following a script based on current assumptions around the causes of social problems rather than any real experiences or insight.  However, that aside, it’s an easy, interesting, and a real page turner PLUS the author is a long time bookstore employee and is married to a librarian so he definitely walks the walk!

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