Midnight, Texas, Book 1
by Charlaine Harris
Penguin/Ace/Adult 6 May 2014
Physical Library Book. No remuneration was exchanged and all opinions presented here are my own except as noted.
From Charlaine Harris, the bestselling author who created Sookie Stackhouse and her world of Bon Temps, Louisiana, comes a darker locale—populated by more strangers than friends. But then, that’s how the locals prefer it…
Welcome to Midnight, Texas, a town with many boarded-up windows and few full-time inhabitants, located at the crossing of Witch Light Road and Davy Road. It’s a pretty standard dried-up western town.
There’s a pawnshop (someone lives in the basement and is seen only at night). There’s a diner (people who are just passing through tend not to linger). And there’s new resident Manfred Bernardo, who thinks he’s found the perfect place to work in private (and who has secrets of his own).
Stop at the one traffic light in town, and everything looks normal. Stay awhile, and learn the truth… Penguin
LINK Author’s Website
I had tried to get an ARC of this and did not so when I saw it on the library “shelf” I went for it. I had been a devotee of the Sookie Stackhouse “Southern Murder Mystery” series and wanted to see what she had replaced Sookie with.
I was disappointed. The book is a lot of set-up for the series. We find out who the players are, who is crushing on whom, what they do for a living, what they are willing to do for others and to protect themselves. There are some disturbing images and actions. There are certain lines you don’t cross, things you just do not do, in a book and expect to be loved. Well, guess what.
It seemed to take forever to get past the introductions, diner food and sweet tea to the meat of this story. And then, while it was obvious to me who the perpetrator was it seems to take the main characters a lo-o-o-ng time to figure it out. I had to force myself through three days of reading what should have been an eminently devourable book of an afternoon and evening. There is no solid love relationship apparent or imminent and, in my humble opinion, the characters lack a feeling of connection or bonding, They all feel cold and self-involved and disparate. There should be a small town vibe but I am not getting it.
Harris seems to stick with a similar world-construction with the existence of vampires, witches, and some great hairy beast that wanders through town in one scene and is heard no more. The supernaturals are not out of the closet though except among other supernaturals and a few humans. The vampire has a girlfriend who is kind of scary and still mysterious; maybe she is the beast? The witch is able to perform actual magic but doubts her own abilities. There are a couple of surprises, and I didn’t get a couple of the references at the very end. The choice of occupations is interesting: a pawnshop, nail salon/antique shop, a witch supply/new age shop, and the new guy in town is a tele/online psychic (He’s a psychic and not a telepath like Sookie).
Inevitably, the series will be measured against Sookie’s and possibly the Harper Connolly series (I have only read one of these). And, it didn’t grab me right away like Sookie did. There’s no center.
Charlaine’s power of description is strong at the start; you can feel the hot wind and “separateness” of the town, smell the diner food, envision the peeling paint, the dust, and the spiky grass. But after a while I felt weighed down by all the description, and the minutiae of internal feelings.
Bummer, I was hoping for something delightful, but did not get a feeling of welcome from this small town.