Midnight Crossroad, by Charlaine Harris

I've always classified Charlaine Harris as an “airport writer”. Her novels are reasonably entertaining, and you can find them in even the saddest, most under-stocked airport book display, but if I'm in an actual bookstore I'm probably going to choose something else. That's why I'm so impressed by Midnight Crossroad, the first book in her latest series—it does a great job of playing to Harris's strengths, but it also proves that she's still growing and improving as an author. Most mega-successful writers (ahem, Nora Roberts, James Patterson) are mostly coasting at this point, but Harris is trending up.

Midnight Crossroad introduces readers to Midnight, Texas, a one-stop town consisting of a handful of barely-surviving businesses and a smattering of unusual residents. The new guy in town is Manfred Bernardo, an online psychic who is surprised to discover that he seems to have stumbled into the one place where he qualifies as “normal”. Manfred gets the Midnight version of a warm welcome, but shortly after his arrival the townsfolk find themselves in serious trouble: a former resident turns out to have been murdered, and the resulting investigation threatens to expose a number of carefully-buried secrets.

Like most of Harris's previous books, Midnight Crossroad features a Southern setting, respectful depictions of pink collar work, and a lot of impressively weird supernatural stuff. The weaker aspects of her writing are still present, but they're toned way down—the story is told from a variety of perspectives, so it doesn't matter that none of the characters are especially plausible, and the romantic element (never Harris's strong suit) is reduced to a very minor aspect of the story. And while Midnight Crossroad is definitely a series installment, it's a remarkably dense, satisfying one, which means Harris's readers will be able to look forward to the next book in the series without feeling like they just shelled out $10 for one-third of a story. I'm really looking forward to the next book in this series, and I have no intention of waiting for my next airport visit to read it.

Review based on publisher-provided copy.
Posted by: Julianka


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