Midnight Crossroad is the first in a new series, called Midnight, Texas, from Charlaine Harris. I’ve not read or watched any of Harris’ previous works and that turns out to be important. Charlaine Harris may be best known for her Sookie Stackhouse books which, on TV, are known as True Blood.
Geek Native interviewed Harris this year and from that I know there’s a character from every series she’s ever written in the Midnight books. I don’t know which and it doesn’t matter. This is a good thing. This means you can start at the first book in the Midnight, Texas series and not worry about needing to have read other books.
I think there’s another advantage in not having read any of Charlaine Harris’ previous books. I had no expectations of what Midnight Crossroad would contain, how it would be paced or develop. From the TV trailers of True Blood things seem to be high stakes, graphic, sexy and quick to move. Maybe the Sookie Stackhouse books are too. Midnight Crossroad is not.
Midnight is a sleepy down that looks normal on the surface. There are few people but they are friendly. As you’d expect there are secrets to the town when you dig. Midnight tends to attract people who don’t want you nosing around in their past. There are townsfolk who only come out at night.
Whereas the murder in this murder mystery takes a while to surface the secrets in town do not. The book starts as an “internet psychic” called Manfred Bernardo turns up, having adopted Midnight as his new home and a private place to work. He seems to know all about vampires and isn’t surprised to meet one. This saves the reader lots of faff and helps us get straight to the point.
Getting straight to the point, though, is still a long walk. We spend the opening chapters layering on town detail, meeting characters and building up to something. It’s normally the other way around in a murder mystery. You normally get the body first and then start to wonder about the people involved. Midnight Crossroad feels very slow until you remember it’s actually just backwards. The initial clues are dished out before the body.
Sleepy little murder towns aren’t usually my thing but I managed with Midnight Crossroad. The book was able to offer my the constant promise of surprise supernatural event (again, perhaps helped by not having read any previous stories) and that kept me going. Is he a vampire? I’d wonder. Is he… wait, werewolves? There are werewolves? I’d speculate. Could she really have magic powers? If there was any chance of already knowing the answers to those questions then I think Midnight Crossroad would have been an entirely different book.
As it was, I rather enjoyed Midnight Crossroad, it was a relaxing read. I’m interested in reading the sequel too provided there’s not an entire new host of characters to meet again.
My copy of Midnight Crossroad was provided for review. By Charline Harris, published by Gollancz, available in hardback, softback and ebook.
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