Review: Midnight Crossroad by Charlaine Harris
Published May 6th 2014 by Ace
Review copy received from the publisher
The last few books I read by Charlaine Harris have been subpar. The final books in the Sookie Stackhouse series showed the author losing her stride. At least in this new series featuring a new cast of characters, Ms Harris rediscovered her enthusiasm for writing, even though it’s not quite yet of the standard of some of her other works.
Manfred Bernardo, a character we know from the Harper Connelly series, is now starring in his own series. Manfred moves to Midnight, a tiny town in the middle of nowhere in Texas. Not a single one of its inhabitants asks him why he moved there – it seems like everyone living in Midnight has something to hide.
Midnight Crossing sees the return of one of Ms Harris’ staples: the small southern town. Midnight is almost a character in itself. A lot of time is spent outlining its quirky inhabitants – and they are quirky. Names of the Midnightians include Fiji, Bobo, Creek, and Lamuel. I’ve honestly never met any people named this strangely, but that might just be because I’ve never visited any small Texas towns.
I’m not completely sure in what genre Midnight Crossing is supposed to fall. Although there is a mystery at the heart of the book, it takes a very long time to develop, and there is very little actual sleuthing or piecing together of clues going on. The mystery almost seems to resolve itself. The people of Midnight go through the motions, and at one point an answer presents itself. This didn’t necessarily bother me, but it would disappoint anyone looking for a good mystery to get immersed into.
This isn’t so much Manfred’s book as it is a book for all of Midnight. He isn’t the shining star in the story – for me Fiji, the local witch, is. We spend quite some time in the heads of other Midnight residents besides Manfred. There is a slight touch of the paranormal to Midnight Crossing, but there is none of the paranormal world building we saw in the Sookie Stackhouse series. Manfred’s psychic powers only manifest themselves once, when he receives a vision that is hardly relevant to the plot. I really wish we could see more of his powers, because they always intrigued me when he was still just playing second fiddle in a different series.
Though Ms Harris largely seems to have found her inner muse again, her writing is still slightly awkward. Armed with conventional wisdoms and cringe-worthy frankness, she writes gems such as:
After five minutes, Manfred forgot that Joe and Chuy were men who had sex with each other. Instead, he was able to revel in the happy discovery that Chuy was a very good cook and that Joe kept a stock of excellent beer in his refrigerator.
In my opinion that first sentence should have never made its way into print. If the author can stay away from these less-than-stellar pieces of wisdom, Midnight Crossroad is quite enjoyable.
Welcome to Midnight, Texas, a town with many boarded-up windows and few full-time inhabitants, located at the crossing of Witch Light Road and Davy Road. It’s a pretty standard dried-up western town.
There’s a pawnshop (someone lives in the basement and is seen only at night). There’s a diner (people who are just passing through tend not to linger). And there’s new resident Manfred Bernardo, who thinks he’s found the perfect place to work in private (and who has secrets of his own).
Stop at the one traffic light in town, and everything looks normal. Stay awhile, and learn the truth…
- Grave Sight by Charlaine Harris
- Black Dagger Brotherhood Series (#4-6) Mini Reviews
- Death of an Avid Reader by Frances Brody
- Bitter Spirits by Jenn Bennet