Friday, August 8, 2014

Unforgotten Book Friday: MIDNIGHT CROSSROAD by Charlaine Harris

Haven't read a 'forgotten or overlooked' book lately and have nothing in my head (vintage reading-wise) I wanted to talk about, hence my 'unforgotten' book post. Hopefully that's okay with Patti who conducts the 'FFB Friday' meme at her blog, Pattinase. (Don't forget to check the list and links.)

I don't, normally, read this kind of book so MIDNIGHT CROSSROAD was another of those light, pleasant reading surprises that add spark to the doldrums of summer reading.

Author Charlaine Harris' Stookie Stackhouse books have been turned into a very successful HBO television enterprise so I need hardly introduce her work to you. The series is called TRUE BLOOD and I've never seen it nor do I plan to. I'm not much of a fan of the undead. Haven't read the books either - not my thing. But I know I'm in the very tiniest minority.

Though I am familiar with the oh-so-charming and patient Harris (and am thrilled for her success) because I once ran into her at a conference and spent a few delightful moments embarrassing myself by gushing over a couple of her earlier series, one featuring librarian/crime solver Aurora Teagarden and the other featuring the troubled but kick-ass heroine Lily Bard. Then I ruined the whole thing by attributing a book to Harris that she hadn't written. Embarrassing! But she was SO sweet about it.

The Lily Bard books, in particular, need to be turned into a series, but I fear there's not a vampire or werewolf to be found within - just terrific mysteries with a noir vibe and a compelling, if damaged, heroine. The setting, Shakespeare, Arkansas is also a plus. If you're not familiar with those books then make yourselves familiar asap beginning with SHAKESPEARE'S LANDLORD. You will feel for Lily and you will love her and then you will wish there were more than five books in the series.

Hey, I just realized I could have gone with Lily Bard for today's meme, since I've never actually met or talked to anyone who's read these books. Even if they remain one of the best female-centered series around.

Back to MIDNIGHT CROSSROADS which does, I've read, feature a character left over from the Sookie Stackhouse books. But I thought I'd take a look anyway - it's been awhile since I read any Charlaine Harris and MC has an intriguing premise (...a new mystery-romance-paranormal mash-up...Booklist), first in a planned trilogy set in an isolated small town in West Texas. Judging by this one, I'll be reading the next two soon as they become available.

Manfred Bernardo is the new guy in town. He has secrets. (Who doesn't?)

"...then Manfred realizes that all morning, throughout the camaraderie of unloading the van, neither of his companions asked the obvious questions. Why are you moving to such a godforsaken place? What brings you here? What do you do? Where did you live before?

And Manfred Bernardo realizes he's moved to the right place. In fact, it's just like he belongs here."

I like stories of new beginning in new places most especially if there's a promise of odd doings. Here we get the usual barrage of eccentric misfits - the town is a virtual island of lost and quirky souls - but all are embroidered with Harris' unique touch.

Bernardo reads minds, sort of, though he often doesn't. His neighbor Fiji, is a witch - sort of - with a cat as her familiar - you know how that goes. There's a weird sort of minister of some unspecified religion - he hardly, if ever, speaks at all, so there's that to deal with. Then there's a handsome guy named Bobo who runs the pawn shop - Fiji has her eye on him. Bobo rents a room in the basement to a vampire named Lemuel. Just the one. Not too bad. Just one. He's not introduced until part of the way in so we get used to the more likable characters first.

Lemuel is a very sinister, pasty-faced individual who feeds on blood and energy and comes out at night with his companion, the enigmatic Olivia. Though she's not a vampire (far as I can make out), both are characters to be very wary of in Midnight, Texas. Even if they are neighbors.

Of course there's murder and mayhem to follow and a treasure to be discovered. But in truth, here's all you have to know about this book to know if you'll like it or not:

Remember that cat I mentioned earlier? Fiji's familiar? Well, he talks. Yeah, he does. Though we don't find out for awhile. He is hilarious and worth the price of the book if you're inclined to buy. I might even call him: THE. BEST. CAT. CHARACTER. EVER. And I do.

If you can't accept this little bit of oddness, then don't read the book. Really. It's not for you.

But here's my view: if you accept vampires and their modus vivendi, then why not a talking cat? Especially a talking cat with a serious attitude problem.

I laughed so loud, I was afraid my neighbors might hear.


  1. A better talking cat than Tobermory? Than Mehitabel? Tall order!

    1. I don't know Tobermory. As for Mehitabel, I do know her from online but she was before my time so I'm not as familar with the comics as I should be. Though what I've seen of Mehitabel is pretty funny. Didn't she talk in the first person in a series of books? Elucidate.

    2. Tobermory was Saki's articulate cat in the short story of that name; Mehitabel wasn't really a creature of comics so much as don marquis's female lead in his series of poems about archy the cockroach and mehitabel the cat, both on their karmic way through this life among the reincarnating many (and she's toujours gai). Though George Herriman did famously illustrate the poetry collections, in a manner not too far from that employed in Krazy Kat the strip. See also, "Fluffy" by Theodore Sturgeon; "The King of the Cats" by Stephen Vincent Benet. (I don't recall that the feline in Robert Bloch's "Catnip" is actually voluble.

    3. Oh well, that explains why I've never heard of Tobermory. Todd, I am esoterically challenged as you very well may know. However I had heard of Mehitabel and knew about the cockroach and the Krazy Kat connection. I do remember Krazy Kat being hit by a brick all the time. :)

      Let's just say that of ALL the cats I've read about, Charlaine Harris's cat is THE. BEST. CAT. CHARACTER. EVER. How's that?

  2. Must admit, TRUE BLOOD does nothing for me either, but this much more like my idea of fun - thanks Yvette!

    1. It is a great deal of fun, Sergio. I was wondering if I'd be able to return to Harris and lo and behold, she's won me back. :)

  3. I like Charlaine Harris' writing ... I enjoyed several of the Lily Bard series. So may try this some day. The cat sounds interesting. I plan to try the first Sookie Stackhouse book, even though the idea of a vampire mystery series turns me off.

    1. Well, if you tire of Sookie, try MIDNIGHT CROSSROADS. It's the first in a new trilogy. I'm glad you got a chance to read some of the Lily Bards. A really good series abandoned too soon.

  4. I wonder if she intends to turn this into a new series? Sounds sort of fun. Harris likes to play around with kooky characters and makes fun of the supernatural a lot. I remember a zombie Elvis Presley that was about the only funny thing in the one Sookie Stackhouse book I read. But overall it was too juvenile for me, especially the "romance" part of it. It was like I was reading a book intended for teenage girls. Hated it. But hated TRUE BLOOD even more by the end of the second season when I gave up on it for good. I used to derisively refer to it as "that vampire porn show."

    1. John, it does say in my post that this is the first of a trilogy. It is fun. Try this first book, I think you'll enjoy it. I tried to read one of the Sookie books but just couldn't get into it.

      '...that vampire porn show...' HA!!


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