In Midnight at the Bright Ideas Bookstore, Matthew J. Sullivan introduces us to Lydia. She’s a bookseller just trying to live an uneventful life. I’m envious of her bookstore life, if not the rest of it!

Sadly, one of her customers takes his own life in the store, even during her shift. And Lydia is pulled into his mysterious life. Which is ironic, because her own past is actually quite cumbersome also. It’s a difficult balancing act, and Lydia keeps it together more than most of us would.

Her picture in the paper opens the doors of these two lives, and sends all Lydia’s neatly arranged life stories up into a turbulent tornado. But she handles it (mostly) with aplomb. And does an admirable job at playing amateur detective, proving that a reading life gives you plenty of critical thinking skills.

Sullivan writes Lydia as a whole person, neither wholly geeky, flighty, nor grounded. She has her faults, but they didn’t grate on me. The other key people in Lydia’s life serve both to advance the story line, and make her life seem more realistic. I definitely enjoyed her repartee with female coworker named Plath—more please, Mr. Sullivan.

As to the story line, however, it was less complex than it originally seemed. And unfortunately, I guessed every twist and turn the author threw at Lydia. And I saw them coming long before she did.

My conclusions

On the whole, Lydia and her life were a good place to spend a day or so. I enjoyed both the ebook and the audiobook, narrated by Madeleine Maby. Sullivan is a credible writer, comfortably inhabiting a female voice. I only wish he’d made the whole journey slightly less predictable.

However, given the chance to revisit the Bright Ideas Bookstore and Lydia’s crew, I’d certainly make the time to join them again.