Saturday, September 13, 2014

Midnight Crossroads

Oh, Charlaine.  We have a long history and I do still like you, but this book is just off.  Midnight Crossroad is the first in a new trilogy.  I knew it was part of a series, but not one so short, so I expected more of a full arc in this installment.

Midnight is a small town in Texas, and every one of the dozen or so folks who live there has something strange going on.  Manfred, the main character, is from the Harper Connolly books, and we soon find out that Bobo has connections to Harris's Shakespeare books.  And there's a vampire and possibly a shapeshifter.  So there is a lot going for Midnight Crossroad.  

But it ended up being messy.  Manfred's psychic skills are very much a minor factor, and it feels like a missed opportunity.  The story doesn't go where you think it will.  It really doesn't go anywhere.  The "big" climax deflates and doesn't resolve in this book.  It also has nothing to do with the murder that drives the plot.  The killer is revealed, though, and his fate leaves you feeling morally antsy.  I'm not even going to get into the cat.  

The writing itself seemed super-simplistic.  The last half of the book was marginally better, but the first chapters read like they were written for ESL students or adults just learning to read.  Fiji crossed the street.  Like usual, there was no traffic.  She was wearing a brown skirt.  She opened the door to the restaurant.  See Spot run.  Look at Jane go.  Just very basic sentence structures and characterizations.

And the names, Good Lord, the names.  Manfred, Bobo, Creek, Fiji. Lemuel. Madonna.Teacher.  So many were so hokey that they detracted from the story for me.  Although, there are Lemuels in my family tree, so I'm okay if one makes a come back!    

Then every once in a while, Charlaine would sneak in a sharp observation or a crafty little sentence that reminded me why I enjoy her books in the first place.  She's great at writing regular folks, even if she does use one-dimensional thugs and white supremacists for her bad guys.  But I'm not sure the pain is worth the gain in Midnight Crossroad.   

Final Call:
If you like Charlaine Harris, this might be worth the few hours it will take for you to read it.  Otherwise, eh.

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