REVIEW SUMMARY: Less True Blood, more a darker cozy mystery set in a town filled with secrets and hiding a killer. For fans of Harris’ many series it is a chance to revisit some supporting characters. An easy read, but filled with red herrings and a problematic conclusion.
PROS: Interesting, fairly diverse cast of characters; for fans of Harris’ other series, they will revisit familiar side characters; easy to get into, didn’t bog down much; sets the stage for what could be a fun to read trilogy.
CONS: Red herrings galore; we have characters with powers but they don’t get much action; there were so many characters, 3 POVs and not enough time to really get to know all the players; have to wonder if newcomers to Harris’ books will be as drawn to the characters and world without the anchor of the other established series; the final reveal of the killer was wrapped up too quickly; left this reader feeling underwhelmed.
BOTTOM LINE: While not without flaws, this was an easy read and I enjoyed revisiting some characters. I will read the next one, but not at the hardcover price.
The problem with reviewing an author’s work when you are already familiar with their other series is that you tend to focus on what the book is not, versus what it is. However, the truth is that one of the first thoughts I had upon finishing Midnight Crossroad was that it was not True Blood. If you are hoping for a steamy romance or a blond viking vampire, you won’t find it here. While there is the broad hint at some romantic feelings among some of the townspeople, there is no romance in this book.
This planned trilogy (as of this writing) is set in the same universe as the Sookie books, which is also the same as Harris’ other mystery series: Harper Connelly, Aurora Teagarden, and Lily Bard. In fact, it is supporting characters from those other perhaps lesser known series that turn up in Crossroad. The feel of the book is a lot closer to Harris’ darker cozy mystery series than her more famous vampire stories. The pace is a bit slower and Harris relies on distraction to propel the story along. There are little red fishies swimming hither and yon, getting the characters into trouble and bringing our core group together.
Manfred Bernardo, a psychic from the Harper Connelly series, has just moved to the tiny town of Midnight, TX. He’s felt adrift since the death of his grandmother and is looking for a place to belong. He rents a house from Bobo Winthrop, a side character from the Lily Bard mysteries. Bobo owns the pawnshop and rents out apartments to the town’s resident vampire and his human companion. Bobo is nursing a broken heart since his girlfriend ran off, and finds comfort of the platonic variety with his friend, Fiji Cavanaugh, a witch and shopkeeper who teaches on the side. Add in an anti-social minister, a family kept on a tight leash, a cook, antiques dealer and nail artist and we round out the small group of Midnight residents. Things are going fairly well until the group stumbles on a dead body, bringing in Sheriff Arthur Smith, from the Teagarden series. When one of their own is suspected of the murder, they team up to form their own investigation. Cue red herrings, a few adventures, and then finally the confrontation with the killer.
Given the supernatural bent of the setting, I was honestly expecting more use of powers than we get. Yet it was fairly light on the action. There is a particular sequence that had the possibility of some decent fighting or power-flinging, but it was over quickly and the resolution was a bit of a letdown. I have a feeling it will drive some action in a future book, but considering it was the penultimate moment of danger for the group, I wanted a bit more.
The ragtag townspeople are united in their strangeness as well as their secrets. I did like the introduction to the various residents. Everyone has something to hide, and it is their reticence to probe into anyone’s past that allows a killer to roam free. Still, though, given we have a vampire, witch, shifter, psychic and others, you’d think that someone would have picked up on something. There is some rationale for this in the end, but I didn’t completely buy it. I did like that this shook their confidence in their own abilities, and the possible exploration of that will lead me to pick up book 2.
Ultimately, it is the end that gave me the most problems. Of course, since to discuss any of those issues in great detail I would have to completely spoil the book, I can’t really explore the problems. I’m used to a quick wrap-up with Harris’ mysteries. However, with this ending, given the identity of the killer and the choice the town makes, it really felt like it was all over too quickly. On the positive side, I did feel that the town’s decision was true to character.
For all that, even though I had some issues with the story, I will check out the second book. This is a set-the-stage book, and I’m already invested in most of the characters due to previous series. I also want to see what trouble they get into next. Will I pay the hardback price for it? No. Am I glad that my library always orders at least 20 copies of any Harris book? Indubitably.