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Manfred Bernard (from The Harper Connelly mysteries) moves to the quirky town of Midnight with it's strange and off beat residents and quickly decides he will fit right in. However trouble soon comes to the town and Manfred, often two steps behind despite his psychic gift, is drawn right in with his new neighbors.
Charlaine Harris has a talent for writing characters that no one else has yet matched for me. She shows all the angles, loves them for their strengthens and their faults, shows them through others eyes in a way that brings new life to them and in which they'd never see themselves. The weary humor and understanding of human nature Charlaine Harris brings to this story really sets it apart me and I think it's a real shame that although she has reached popular acclaim with True Blood, stories like the Harper Connelly mysteries and Midnight Crossroad don't seem get the critical acclaim they deserve. Yes there's magic and mystery here and I like that in a story but it only adds spice to a beautifully drawn portrait of the intriguing characters in an American small town.
Susan Bennetts' narration just seems good at first, though you get very little of it in the story, as much of it is told in the first person, through the varying eyes of the town's residents. This showcases the narrators ability to credibly do an array of voices, from old men to young mothers and at times I really forgot I wasn't watching a show rather than listening to a book.
You don't need to read the Harper Connelly mysteries to enjoy this book but I'm glad I did as Manfred's perception of himself is incredibly self deprecating and it's good to contrast them with Harper's version of an intelligent, confident and worldly wise young man. I also loved the character of his grandmother Xlyda (pronounced Zilda in the audiobooks) and much of Manfred's character is explained by his upbringing with her.
I really hope Harris continues to write about Midnight and I will be pre-ordering the books if she does, especially if they are told by such a good narrator as Susan Bennett. One of the best books of 2014 as far as I'm concerned.
18 of 18 people found this review helpful
Midnight"Midnight Crossroad" is a quirky book about the (very) small town of Midnight and its exotic inhabitants.
It struck me as a sort of "Lake Wobegon" with vampires, witches, psychics, biker gangs and a talking cat.
Two people Charlaine Harris fans will know, reside in Midnight: Bobo Winthrop from the Lily Bard series, owner of the town's pawn shop and Manfred Bernardo, newly arrived in Midnight and the person through whom we discover many of its eccentricities.
You don't need to have read either of the series to read "Midnight Crossing" although Bobo's back-story does have spoiler information on one of the Lily Bard books.
My favourite new character is Fiji ("named for the island") a witch who runs a gift shop and who runs classes ranging from finding your inner witch to making ferocious-looking Halloween pumpkins. After Manfred, the outsider with much to learn, it is through Fiji's eyes that we most often view Midnight and its inhabitants. Fiji tries "to be a good person and a good witch" although she doesn't always seem certain that the two go together. She has fallen hard for Bobo Winthrop but is unable to tell him so, partly because Bobo is grieving because his lover has left town in mysterious circumstances and partly because she is afraid, if she tells him, she will not gain a lover but lose a friend.
The book has a leisurely feel to it. The plot hangs on resolving exactly what happened to Bobo's lover. It meanders rather than runs through the book. It takes bumps from person to person, changing our perception of each individual and cementing the sense of community within Midnight. You read this novel to understand Midnight, not to find out how the plot resolves.
Although it contains abduction, arson, violence and murder "Midnight Crossroad" remains mostly light-hearted. It doesn't aim at the comedy of something like the "Nice Girls Don't..." series by Molly Harper. It's closer to Diana Rowland's "White Trash Zombie" series or perhaps Carl Hiaasen's Florida novels.
I enjoyed the book. I became fond of the characters and curious about what would happen to them in the "next episode". Yet I found myself at a distance from Midnight's citizens. It lacks the intimacy of the Lily Bard and Harper Connelly, perhaps because it is not consistently told from the point of view of a single character.
9 of 9 people found this review helpful