When Manfred Bernardo decides to move, Midnight, Texas seems like an ideal location. A town so small it’s almost a case of blink and you’ll miss it, Manfred figures that it will be the perfect place to lie low while getting his Internet business on track.
Soon after he arrives he realises that he’s not the only one in town with secrets. Though his new neighbours are few, they’re not the kind to over-share and run on a policy of not asking others about their pasts.
This policy suits Manfred fine until members of a white supremacist bikie gang start showing up in town, determined to extract someone’s secrets from them. And until Bobo Winthrop’s missing girlfriend shows up dead.
Midnight Crossroad is one of those books that you ultimately wish offered a little bit more. Some aspects of it are really interesting. The setting, for instance, is full of possibility. Midnight is tiny – a place with just enough traffic from people on road-trips to make it feasible. Because of the size, the community is a close-knit one. Yet, in spite of how much the townspeople support each other, seemingly every member of the community is running from something or keeping secrets. So the people of Midnight live in the present, not pushing into their neighbour’s pasts.
Aside from having a distinctive setting and enticing mystery with a lot of other mysteries broiling under the surface, quite a few things don’t hold together in Midnight Crossroad. The murder, first and foremost. Why would anyone believe that a woman had run away when she took nothing with her and at no point gave anyone the impression that she wanted to leave – or had anywhere to go?
Also, what is the social setting of this novel? I mean, obviously it’s American, but is this a world like that in Harris’s Sookie Stackhouse series where everyone knows that supernatural beings exist – or is the paranormal deeply buried from regular people in this world? Bobo and Manfred appear in other books by Harris. It’s possible that I’d understand the setting more if I had read those novels, but getting into Midnight Crossroad without any background context is a little baffling.
Midnight Crossroad has a lot of promise. The characters – with all their secrets – are intriguing enough to draw readers back; as is the setting. Hopefully Day Shift, the second book in the series settles some of the questions that this one raised.
**For older readers
Midnight Crossroad – Charlaine Harris
Gollancz (May 6, 2014)