(Midnight, Texas, #2)
By Charlaine Harris
There is no such thing as bad publicity, except in Midnight, Texas, where the residents like to keep to themselves. Even in a town full of secretive people, Olivia Charity is an enigma. She lives with the vampire Lemuel, but no one knows what she does; they only know that she’s beautiful and dangerous.
Psychic Manfred Bernardo finds out just how dangerous when he goes on a working weekend to Dallas and sees Olivia there with a couple who are both found dead the next day. To make matters worse, one of Manfred’s regular—and very wealthy—clients dies during a reading.
Manfred returns from Dallas embroiled in scandal and hounded by the press. He turns to Olivia for help; somehow he knows that the mysterious Olivia can get things back to normal. As normal as things get in Midnight…
I purchased Day Shiftspecifically to take on my vacation to Maine last week. I like having a handful of books to read on vacation and often look for something familiar – an author I’ve read before, a book in a series I know I enjoy. I enjoy a challenging and/or new read as much as anyone else but for me, on vacation, I want comfort and relaxation.
Which is exactly what I got from a book about a vampire, two angels, a witch, a psychic and an assassin dealing with a string of deaths that threaten their strange little Texas town.
That sounds a kinda weird, even to me. A murder mystery might not seem relaxing but in many ways the Midnight, Texas series is very much a cozy mystery. It’s set in a small town with a protagonist new to the town so is, in essence, the reader’s point of view and the reason for questions to be asked and answered. There is a central cast of characters in the town with distinct roles and personalities. And there is a strong sense of community that binds everyone together to solve a problem.
I don’t care who lives in a town like that, it sounds like my idea of a lovely place to live.
When I read the first book in the series, Midnight Crossroad, I immediately entered the supernatural world created by Harris and felt that her writing and storytelling had improved since the Sookie Stackhouse series, which I enjoyed. Maybe improved isn’t the correct word. The plotting and character development felt stronger, and that brought me into the world in a bigger way.
Harris does a good job of escalating the stakes. It starts small in Day Shift – the psychic (our newcomer) is out of town to meet clients in person, one of whom dies during a reading. A couple down the hall are also found to be dead (possibly a murder/suicide) but the psychic saw the assassin in the hotel the night before with that very couple. The stakes raise when the son of the psychic’s client accuses him of murder which brings unwanted attention to Midnight, TX.
Another obstacle is the redevelopment of an abandoned hotel as a long-term hotel and elderly center for those waiting to get into a permanent home situation. More people in Midnight equals more opportunities for the secret identities of the inhabitants to be revealed.
Smaller obstacles are placed along the way, such as the appearance of a boy who ages multiple years each day. They all coalesce in the final encounter to protect the town. And I appreciate that the full nature of the intent behind the hotel’s development is still left unknown. There should be long-term things to discover about the town and those who live there.