Midnight Crossroad by Charlaine Harris.
The brand new book from Gollancz in a brand new series from the mistress of urban fantasy, Charlaine Harris; and whilst it is indeed in the realms of urban fantasy its tone and its characters are very different from either the Sookie Stackhouse or Aurora Teagarden books.
Midnight is hot and it’s dusty and its pace of living is oh so sloooow that it could almost be called a modern Texas ghost town. A place that might have made something of itself once upon a time, if it had been given a chance. As it is, the tiny town of Midnight has become one of those shabby echoes that you glimpse from the window of your car. You might be tempted to take a closer look if you happen to get stopped at its one and only set of traffic lights and you might be curious about a place where a magic shop, a pawn shop and a nail salon are its main business concerns.
Naturally, none of Midnight’s inhabitants find that odd; but then the people who don’t live in Midnight might also find those residents a little strange.
Manfred, the newcomer, is a telephone psychic who moves to Midnight to find peace from whatever darkness it was that drove him from his last home. Fiji runs the magic shop, and makes no secret about being a bone fide witch. She’s also as close as it comes to being a true local; and she knows what normal people only think about in their nightmares. Bobo runs the Midnight Pawn and has things living in his cellar, as big and a dark as his own secrets. Then we have Lemuel and Olivia and the Reverend Sheehan, and you really don’t want to enquire too closely about who and what they are. Welcome to Midnight…
Midnight Crossroad gets off on a slow burn that echoes the town’s laid-back life style. But don’t be fooled, its just lulling you into a cosy spot. Beneath that dusty exterior, where events seem to move at the pace of a dried-out river bed, there are things as deep and dark as you could possibly wish. In folklore and fantasy, crossroads have always had a reputation for weird and supernatural goings on and the cross road between Witch Light Road and Davy Road proves the rule. Nobody is what they appear to be and fewer still are going to tell you their story. With a missing woman to find, redneck conspirators targeting her grieving man, and at least two Midnight inhabitants who don’t come out to play after dawn, this book gathers pace in no time from that slow beginning to a pot-boiling finale that is quite satisfying. I will say no more on plot – I won’t spoil it for you – because you need to read it for yourself.
Told largely through a third-person narrator, but with multiple viewpoints, Midnight Crossroad allows each of the three main characters the chance to grow on you. Mr Cuddles does get a little too whimsical for my personal tastes, but that is a small point.
The book is a quick read and it’s fun, a page turner that you’ll romp through in no time, (I read it at one sitting). Midnight Crossroad looks set to be the start of a series that will gain momentum with each volume, when we’ll learn more about this strange town and its strange people; because everything really does begin at Midnight.