Second Look: Midnight Crossroad by Charlaine Harris

Midnight Crossroad is the first book in the new series, Midnight, Texas, by Charlaine Harris, author of the Sookie Stackhouse/Southern Vampire Mysteries.

MIDNIGHT-CROSSROAD-by-Charlaine-Harris

Charlaine Harris is a long way from Bon Temps, Louisiana with her new series.  However, the change in scenery is nice.  Midnight, Texas is a small town.  Population = about 10.  However, I have a feeling she’s going to introduce more characters that live in the small one stop-light town than we know about.

Midnight Crossroad opens with Manfred Bernardo moving into the small, secretive town.  Manfred’s a psychic who spends most of his time doing internet fortune telling (all psychology, no actual psychicness).  And he soon learns everyone in Midnight has their secrets; he’s particularly glad he chose the small Texas town.

The Storyline:  The plot revolves around the discovery of one of the town’s resident’s — Bobo Winthrop — estranged (see: missing) girlfriend, Aubrey.  When Aubrey’s corpse is discovered, Bobo’s past begins to come to the forefront.  It turns out, his grandfather was a “revolutionary” for the white supremacist group, Men of Liberty.  Current members, including Price Eggleton, think Bobo has a hidden cache of weapons his grandfather collected.  And they want the weapons.

The way the novel’s written leads me to believe the subsequent novels in this new series will each revolve around one of the characters in Midnight.  This particular book focused on Bobo, but Harris has a slew of interesting characters.  For instance, there’s Fiji, a witch who can cast some serious spells (and has a talking cat); The Rev, a quiet and really mysterious preacher who keeps to himself and tends the Pet Cemetery; Lemuel, the energy-sucking vampire; Olivia, the eager-to-kill girl who goes out of town regularly and has a relationship with Lemuel; and Joe and Chuy, the gay couple in Midnight.  (And of course, Manfred himself.)

The Good Things:  It’s a great story.  And I’m intrigued to know what is going to happen.  The characters are lively and interesting.  Harris has always been good with creating characters that draw readers in.  Plus, it’s so different from the Sookie Stackhouse books, that it will be nice for new readers of Harris’s that aren’t interested in the world of Bon Temps.

The Bad Things:  Maybe because this is the first book in a brand new series, there were a lot of “issues” with this book:  (Contains slight spoilers)

?? Point-of-View changes within the chapters.  The chapters are short, and Harris flips the focus of POV within those chapters.  At times, it’s really confusing to go from one character’s mind to another.  I like that it’s told in third person limited, but each chapter should be focused on one character, not changing back and forth.  Or, develop a style that has everyone’s POV in each chapter.

?? Vampires exist.  Does everyone know?  It’s a little strange.  Lemuel’s a vampire, but he can “take energy” from people, too.  We find this out in Manfred’s POV, which is cool — but what about people in the world outside Midnight?  The sheriff investigating Aubrey’s murder doesn’t seem to know that Lemuel’s a vampire.  In fact, the people are quite vague about the fact he can’t be woken up until after dark.  So, it’s a little strange.  There are also other creatures in the book (very briefly).  So, it’s a little confusing how many people know about the supernatural creatures.

?? It’s a mystery — but it’s so vague.  I understand Harris is setting up Midnight to be a mysterious place, but in building the mystery, there are a lot of vague areas that lose the reader.  It’s not until about half-way through the novel that things start to make sense and become cohesive.  For the first book in a new series, this could really turn some people off before they get to the good part of it.

?? Is there a main character?  I thought Manfred would be the main character.  He’s the newcomer in Midnight and it starts with his POV and moving into his new rental.  However, it quickly shifts to other characters and Manfred isn’t at the forefront of the storytelling.  So again, a little confusing and hard to get a grip on.

—-

I don’t want it to sound like it was a bad book, because it wasn’t.  But there were issues with it than an editor of a first time novelist might have caught and changed, but because Harris so prolific, it seemed to be overlooked.

Like I said, I’ll continue to read the series, because I’m intrigued.  And I’ll hope the writing and storytelling becomes more solid as Harris switches to this new series.

Rating…  Because of the issues, I’ll say 7/10 stars.

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