Midnight Crossroad

( 62 )

Overview


FIRST IN A NEW TRILOGY

From Charlaine Harris, the bestselling author who created Sookie Stackhouse and her world of Bon Temps, Louisiana, comes a darker locale—populated by more strangers than friends. But then, that’s how the locals prefer it…

Welcome to Midnight, Texas, a town with many boarded-up windows and few full-time inhabitants, located at the crossing of Witch Light Road and Davy Road. It’s a pretty...

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Overview


FIRST IN A NEW TRILOGY

From Charlaine Harris, the bestselling author who created Sookie Stackhouse and her world of Bon Temps, Louisiana, comes a darker locale—populated by more strangers than friends. But then, that’s how the locals prefer it…

Welcome to Midnight, Texas, a town with many boarded-up windows and few full-time inhabitants, located at the crossing of Witch Light Road and Davy Road. It’s a pretty standard dried-up western town.

There’s a pawnshop (someone lives in the basement and is seen only at night). There’s a diner (people who are just passing through tend not to linger). And there’s new resident Manfred Bernardo, who thinks he’s found the perfect place to work in private (and who has secrets of his own).

Stop at the one traffic light in town, and everything looks normal. Stay awhile, and learn the truth...

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  • Midnight Crossroad
    Midnight Crossroad  

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
03/24/2014
Bestseller Harris (the Southern Vampire Mysteries, which spawned the HBO series True Blood) introduces the small town of Midnight, Tex., where the locals can all take a day off for a picnic by the river—and discover a corpse. Residents of Midnight include a practicing witch, a telephone “psychic” who has true visions, a minister who tends a pet cemetery, and a vampire who works the night shift at the pawn shop. Even the witch’s house cat has his secrets. With polished ease, Harris brings her cast on stage, pairs them off to reveal character through conversation, and ambles the mystery along, as the residents of Midnight tend to their chores and run errands to the big towns of Marthasville and Davy. While not ignoring the downsides of smalltown life, with too-knowing neighbors and teens desperate to get out, Harris also works in its joys and comforts. This is a solid entry in Harris’s catalogue and will do very well with her fans. (May)
Kirkus Reviews
2014-04-02
An online psychic settles in Midnight, Texas, an unusual small town where all the residents have shadowy pasts and a lingering mystery brings unwanted attention. There are just a few houses and a few businesses at the crossroads in Midnight, and everyone seems to socialize at the Gas N Go, Home Cookin or Midnight Pawn. Psychic Manfred Bernardo has moved here for a variety of reasons, and isolation is just one of them. An outsider himself, he is completely surprised when he winds up in a community full of outsiders, which kind of makes him one of the crowd. Not at all what he was expecting, but somehow comforting and welcome: "In fact, it's just like he belongs here." Trouble soon appears, though, when it becomes clear that town resident Aubrey, who everyone thought had run away, was actually murdered. Bobo, owner of the pawnshop and Aubrey's ex, has been mourning since she disappeared, but now that she's dead, her history with a violent religious sect puts Midnight's close-knit community in danger. Luckily, the town's residents are uniquely talented at survival, and they'll do everything they can to keep their little band of misfits safe—a band which turns out to consist of a vampire, a witch, a mysterious Black Ops character and an assortment of enigmatic humans. Harris, of the spectacularly successful Sookie Stackhouse books, begins a new series that is not as overtly supernatural, revolving more around human foibles than vampire ones. Yet she maintains her ability to build intriguing worlds and create fascinating, textured characters, combining them with dark, complex tangles of plot and motive. A little magic, a little mystery and a lot of imagination make for a story that is both fun and edgy, and some unresolved details will keep readers coming back for more.
Library Journal
★ 04/15/2014
From the author of the Sookie Stackhouse 2001–13 fantasy/mystery series (Dead Until Dark; Dead Ever After) comes the launch of a new trilogy about a small Texas town at the intersection of Witch Light Road and Davy Highway, where everybody has a past and a freaky side. The townsfolk also respect secrets, so as the story unfolds complexities abound. Life centers on a 24-hour pawn shop, the Antique Gallery and Nail Salon, the Gas N Go, and the Home Cookin Restaurant. These spots are populated by a witch, a vampire, a reverend, a new psychic in town, and their closer-to-normal friends. When the disappearance of a citizen turns out to be a murder, the characters delve into their backstories to solve the crime. VERDICT As intimate and deep as the Stackhouse novels, but with a lighter load of gore and death, Harris's latest displays her skills at interweaving the lives of her characters. Recommended for those who prefer a mystery that perhaps calls for accepting the unbelievable and fantastical.—Susan Carr, Edwardsville P.L., IL
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780425263150
  • Publisher: Penguin Group (USA)
  • Publication date: 5/6/2014
  • Series: A Novel of Midnight, Texas Series , #1
  • Pages: 320
  • Sales rank: 21,705
  • Product dimensions: 6.40 (w) x 9.10 (h) x 1.50 (d)

Meet the Author


Charlaine Harris is a New York Times bestselling author for both her Sookie Stackhouse fantasy/mystery series and her Harper Connelly Prime Crime mystery series. She has lived in the South her entire life.

Her Sookie Stackhouse novels include: Dead Until Dark, Living Dead in Dallas, Club Dead, Dead to the World, Dead as a Doornail, Definitely Dead, All Together Dead, From Dead to Worse, Dead and Gone, Dead in the Family, Dead Reckoning, Deadlocked, and Dead Ever After.

Biography

A native of the Mississippi Delta, Charlaine Harris grew up in a family of avid readers (her father was a teacher; her mother a librarian). She attended Rhodes College in Memphis, TN, graduating in 1973 with a degree in English and Communication Arts. Although she penned poetry and plays in school, her first serious foray into fiction was with two standalone novels, Sweet and Deadly and A Secret Rage, published (effortlessly!) in the early 1980s.

After her early success, Harris released the first installment in a series of lighthearted mysteries starring spunky, small-town Georgia librarian, true crime enthusiast, and amateur sleuth Aurora Teagarden. When Aurora debuted in Real Murders (1990), Publishers Weekly welcomed "a heroine as capable and potentially complex as P. D. James's Cordelia Gray." The book went on to receive an Agatha Award nomination.

Anxious for another challenge, Harris began a second series in 1996. Darker and edgier than the Teagarden novels, these mysteries featured taciturn, 30-something housecleaner Lily Bard, a woman with a complicated past who has moved to the small town of Shakespeare, Arkansas, to find peace and solitude. The first novel, Shakespeare's Landlord, was well-received. BookList raved: "Harris has created an intriguing new character in this solidly plotted story." [Much to the disappointment of her fans, Harris concluded the Lilly Bard sequence in 2001 with Shakespeare's Counselor.]

Although Harris achieved moderate success with these two series (which she laughingly describes as "cozies with teeth"), she would hit the jackpot in 2001 with Dead Until Dark, a sly, spoofy paranormal mystery starring a telepathic Louisiana cocktail waitress named Sookie Stackhouse, who falls in love with a vampire named Bill. The novel, a delightful hybrid of mystery, science fiction, and romance, was an instant hit with critics. ("Harris' Sookie has the potential to attract more readers than Hamilton's Anita Blake," raved the dark fantasy magazine Cemetery Dance.) Readers, too, adored the Southern Vampire Series and have rewarded the author with bestseller after bestseller. (In 2008, the Sookie saga came to HBO in a top-rated television adaptation, True Blood, starring Anna Paquin.)

With 2006's Grave Sight, Harris added yet another fascinating character to her stable -- a young woman named Harper Connelly whose youthful encounter with a lightning bolt has left her with the ability to find corpses and determine how they died. In addition to juggling characters and plots for her popular series, Harris has also contributed short stories and novellas to several anthologies of paranormal fantasy fiction.

Good To Know

In our interview, Harris confesses:

"I'm really a boring person. My family (my husband and three children) is the most important thing in my life. I go to bed early, I get up early. I love to go to the movies with my husband. My favorite things about finally making some money as a writer are (a) I can buy as many books as I want, and (b) I can hire a maid. The first job I had was working in an offset darkroom at a very small newspaper. I stood on a concrete floor all day and made minimum wage -- which then was $1.60 an hour. I hated it, and I learned a lot, though not necessarily about working in a darkroom. So being a writer is much better."

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    1. Hometown:
      Southern Arkansas
    1. Date of Birth:
      November 25, 1951
    2. Place of Birth:
      Tunica, Mississippi
    1. Education:
      B.A. in English and Communication Arts, Rhodes, 1973
    2. Website:

Read an Excerpt

***This excerpt is from an advance uncorrected proof.***

Copyright © 2014  by Charlaine Harris, Inc.

You might pass through the town of Midnight without noticing it, if there weren’t a stoplight at the intersection of Witch Light Road and the Davy highway. Most of the town residents are very proud of the stoplight, because they know that without it the town would dry up and blow away. Because there’s that pause, that moment to scan the storefronts, maybe three cars a day do stop. And those people, more enterprising or curious (or lower on gas) than most, might eat at the Home Cookin Restaurant, or get their nails done at the Antique Gallery and Nail Salon, or fill up their tanks and buy a soda at Gas N Go.

The really inquisitive ones always go to Midnight Pawn.

It’s an old building, the oldest building in town. In fact, it was there before the town grew up around it, before there were two roads to intersect. The pawnshop, situated at the northeast corner of the intersection, is stone, like most buildings in Midnight. Rock is easier to come by than timber in West Texas. The colors—beige, brown, copper, tan, cream—lend a certain charm to any house, no matter how small or ill-proportioned. Fiji (“Feegee”) Cavanaugh’s cottage, on the south side of Witch Light Road, is a prime example. It was built in the nineteen thirties; Fiji (“I’m named for the country; my mom and dad liked to travel”) doesn’t know the exact year. Her great-aunt, Mildred Loeffler, left it to Fiji. It has a stone-flagged front porch big enough for two large urns full of flowers and a little bench. There’s a low wall all around it, and rock columns hold up the porch roof. The large living room, across the whole front of the building, has a fireplace on the right side, which Fiji uses in the winter. The living room is now a shop/meeting place where Fiji holds her classes. Fiji is an avid gardener, like her great-aunt before her. Even at the beginning of fall—which is only a date on the calendar in Texas; it’s still hot as hell—the small front yard is overflowing with flowers, in large tubs and in the ground. The effect is charming, especially when her marmalade cat, Mr. Snuggly, sits like a furry statue amongst the roses, the ice plants, and the petunias. People stop and look, and read the prim, small sign that says THE INQUIRING MIND on the top line, followed by Classes for the Curious, every Thursday evening at 7:00.

The Inquiring Mind, most commonly known as Fiji’s house, is on the east side of the Wedding Chapel and Pet Cemetery, run by the Reverend Emilio Sheehan. The Wedding Chapel is open (that is, unlocked) twenty-four/seven, but the sign at the gate of the fenced cemetery behind the chapel informs mourning pet owners that funerals are by appointment. Though his business is to the east of the Davy highway, the Rev’s home lies to the west, to the right of the Home Cookin Restaurant, which is past the closed hotel and the closed hardware store. The Rev’s house is similar to Fiji’s, but it’s older, smaller, and has only sparse grass in the little front yard. It is also in no way welcoming or charming, and he has no cat.

But back to Midnight Pawn, the largest occupied building in Midnight. The pawnshop has a basement, sort of, which is unusual in Texas. Digging through the rock is a job for the stout of heart, and the original owner of the pawnshop was a formidable individual. That basement is only partly under the ground level; the windows of the two apartments peek out above the hard-baked dirt like suspicious prairie dogs. Most of the time, the prairie dogs’ eyes are shut, since the windows are heavily curtained. The main floor, up a set of six steps at the entrance, is the pawnshop proper, where Bobo Winthrop reigns by day. He has an apartment above the shop, a big one, taking up the whole floor. There are only light curtains over the windows in his personal space. Who is there to look in? There’s nothing else that tall for miles. Bobo bought the house next door in a parcel with the pawnshop. It’s intended for the owner to live in, but at the time he bought the place, Bobo thought he would be just as happy over the shop. He planned to rent the house for extra income. He did some necessary repairs and advertised for years. But no one wanted to rent the house until now.

Today, the house has a brand-new tenant. Everyone in Midnight (except the Reverend Sheehan; who knows what he thinks?) is excited because the new resident is moving in.

Fiji Cavanaugh peeks out from behind her lace curtains from time to time and then commands herself to go back to work behind the glass shop counter, which is filled with New Age–type merchandise: glass unicorns, fairy bookmarks, dolphins galore on every conceivable item. On the lower workspace built in behind the high counter, Fiji is mixing an herbal compound that should confound her enemies . . . if she had any. She is fighting the impulse to dig into the Hershey’s Kisses she keeps in a bowl on the counter for her customers. (Her customers just happen to like Fiji’s favorite candy.)

Across Witch Light Road, at Midnight Pawn, Bobo walks down the enclosed staircase from his apartment. At the pawnshop level, he has choices. There’s a door to his left leading out to the driveway. There’s a short open stairway down to the tenants’ floor. And there’s an inner door to the pawnshop on his right. Bobo should unlock it and enter, since the pawnshop has been closed since Lemuel went to bed a whole two hours before, but Bobo ignores it. He chooses the outer door, relocks it when he’s outside, walks across the graveled driveway leading to the rear of the pawnshop, then over a little strip of downtrodden grass, then across the rutted driveway of the house next door, to offer help to the newcomer, a short, slim man who’s unloading boxes from a U-Haul truck and sweating profusely.

“Need a hand?” Bobo asks.

The new tenant says, “Sure, some help would be great. I had no idea how I was going to get the couch out. You can take the time from the store?”

Bobo laughs. He’s a big golden guy in his thirties, and his laugh is big and golden, too, despite the lines in his face and the expression of his mouth and eyes, which is mostly sad. “I can see if a car pulls in and walk back into the shop in less than thirty seconds,” he says. In no time he’s lifting boxes and putting them where the labels say they should go. Most of the boxes have “Living Room” scribbled on them, and they’re heavy. The bedroom boxes are not so numerous, nor the kitchen boxes. There’s furniture to move, really old furniture that wasn’t that nice to begin with.

“Yeah,” Bobo says, surveying the interior of the U-Haul. “You would have been up the creek without another pair of hands.”

Joe Strong, with his little Peke on a leash, strolls over from the Antique Gallery and Nail Salon. He, too, offers assistance. Joe looks like his name. He’s muscular in the extreme, and tan, though thinning brown hair and the lines around his eyes hint that Joe is older than his body suggests. Since Joe’s obviously a great box lifter, the new tenant accepts his help, too, and the job goes faster and faster. The Peke, Rasta, is tethered by his rhinestone leash to the front post of the porch, and the new tenant unearths a bowl from a “Kitchen” box and fills it full of water for the dog.

Looking out her front window, Fiji wonders if she should go over to help, too, but she knows she can’t carry as much as the guys. Also, Mr. Snuggly has an ongoing feud with Rasta; he would be sure to follow her if she crossed the road. After an hour of inner debate, Fiji decides that she will carry over lemonade and cookies; but by the time she gets everything assembled, the men have vanished. She steps out onto the street to see them heading down to the Home Cookin Restaurant. Apparently, they’re taking a lunch break. She sighs and decides to try again about three o’clock.

As the small party walks west on the north side of the road, they pass the pawnshop and cross the intersection. The Davy highway is wider and well paved, the newcomer notices. They pass Gas N Go, waving at the middle-aged man inside. Then there’s an alley and another vacant store, and next they’d reach the Antique Gallery and Nail Salon. But instead, they cross Witch Light Road to get to Home Cookin. The newcomer has been taking in the vacant buildings.

“Are there more people?” the newcomer asks. “Than us?”

“Sure,” Bobo replies. “There are people strung out along Witch Light and a few on the Davy highway, and farther out there are ranches. We see the ranch families and workers now and then. The few other people who live close, the ones who don’t run ranches, work in Davy or Marthasville. The commute is cheaper than moving.”

The new tenant understands that the core group of people in Midnight is very small. But that’s fine with him, too.

When the men (and Rasta) come into the restaurant, Madonna Reed looks up from the infant carrier atop the ancient Formica counter. She’s been playing with the baby, and her face is soft and happy.

“How’s Grady?” Joe asks. He brings the Peke in with him without any discussion, so the new tenant realizes Joe must do this often.

“He’s good,” says Madonna. Her smile switches from genuine to professional in a wink. “I see we’ve got a newbie today.” She nods at the new tenant.

“Yeah, I guess we’ll need menus,” Bobo says.

The newcomer looks politely from Madonna to the other men. “You must come here often,” he says.

“All the time,” Bobo says. “We may only have one place to eat fresh-made food, but Madonna’s a great cook, so I’m not complaining.”

Madonna is a plus-size woman with an intimidating Afro. Perhaps her ancestors were from Somalia, because she is tall, there is a reddish cast to her brown skin, and her nose is thin and high-bridged. She is very pretty.

The newcomer accepts his menu, which is a single-sided typed sheet in a plastic envelope. It’s a bit battered and obviously hasn’t been changed in some time. Today is a Tuesday, and under the heading “Tuesday” he sees he has a choice between fried catfish and baked chicken. “I’ll have the catfish,” he says.

“What sides with that?” Madonna asks. “Pick two out of the three. The catfish comes with hush puppies.” The sides for Tuesday are mashed potatoes with cheese and onions, slaw, and a baked apple with cinnamon. The new guy picks slaw and an apple.

They’re sitting at the largest table in the restaurant, a circular one set in the middle of the small room. It seats eight, and the newcomer wonders why they’re at this particular table. There are four booths against the west wall, and two tables for two against the front window, which looks north over Witch Light Road. After looking around, the new guy doesn’t worry about hogging the big table any longer. There’s no one else in the place.

A short Hispanic man walks in, wearing a crisp striped sport shirt and immaculate khakis with a gleaming brown leather belt and loafers. He’s probably forty. He comes over to the table, kisses Joe Strong on the cheek, and slips into the chair by him. The new customer leans over to give Rasta a scratch on the head before he reaches across the table to shake hands with the new guy. “I’m Chewy Villegas,” he says.

Not Chewy . . . Chuy. “I’m Manfred Bernardo,” the new guy says.

“Did Joe help you get settled?”

“I’d still be moving furniture and boxes if he and Bobo hadn’t shown up. There’s not that much more to go. I can unpack in increments.”

Chuy bends down to pet the dog. “How’s Rasta been?” he asks his partner.

Joe laughs. “Ferocious. Scared Manfred to death with his vicious fangs. At least Mr. Snuggly stayed on his side of the road.”

Though Chuy’s eyes are marked by crow’s feet, his hair does not show a trace of gray. His voice is soft and has a very slight accent, maybe more a careful choice of words, that indicates he was not originally from the United States. He seems to be as muscular as his partner.

A man in his sixties enters, an electronic chime on the door announcing his arrival. Like Chuy, he’s of Hispanic origin, but otherwise the two men are nothing alike. The newcomer is cadaverous, and his skin tone is much darker than Chuy’s caramel. There are deep creases in the older man’s cheeks. He’s maybe five feet five inches in his cowboy boots, and he’s wearing a white shirt and an ancient black suit with a black Stetson. His only adornment is a string tie with a hunk of turquoise acting as a clasp. The older man nods politely at the group and goes to sit by himself at one of the small tables at the front window. He removes his hat, revealing thinning black hair. Manfred opens his mouth to ask him over, but Bobo puts a hand on Manfred’s arm. “The Rev sits alone,” Bobo says in a low voice, and Manfred nods.

Since he’s sitting facing the window, Manfred can see a fairly steady stream of people going in and out of the convenience store. The two gas pumps are out of his range of sight, but he assumes that each person going into the store has a vehicle that is getting filled. “It’s a busy time at the Gas N Go,” he comments.

“Yeah, Shawn and Creek never come in for lunch. Sometimes for supper,” Bobo says. “Creek has a brother, Connor—he’s fourteen? Fifteen? He’s at school in Davy.”

“Davy is north of here?”

“Yes. A ten-minute drive. Davy’s the county seat of Roca Fría County. The town’s named for Davy Crockett, of course. ‘Crockett’ was already taken.”

“So I’m guessing you’re not from around here, either,” says Manfred.

“Nope.” Bobo doesn’t amplify. This is a big clue, to Manfred. He’s thinking it over when Madonna emerges from the kitchen to carry a glass of water over to the Rev and take his order. She’s put glasses full of ice and pitchers of tea and water on the big table already.

Then Manfred spies a woman walking on the old sidewalk across Witch Light Road. She’s passing the Antique Gallery and Nail Salon, though she barely glances at the Closed for Lunch sign in the window. She’s a showstopper. She’s easily five foot nine, she’s wearing jeans that show she is slim without being gaunt, and her orange sweater clings to square shoulders and thin, muscular arms. Though Manfred vaguely feels she should be wearing four-inch heels, she’s not. She’s wearing battered boots. She’s got on a bit of makeup, and she’s decorated with silver earrings and a silver chain.

“Damn.”

He’s not aware he’s said it out loud until Bobo says, “Be very afraid.”

“Who is she?”

“She rents one of my apartments. Olivia Charity.” Manfred is pretty sure that Olivia Charity is not the woman’s real name. Bobo knows her true name, but he’s not going to voice it. Curiouser and curiouser.

And 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.

Chapter One

Manfred succeeded in getting his computer equipment set up in less than two days. He started catching up on his websites Thursday afternoon. Time was money in the psychic business.

He was able to roll his favorite chair right up to the large L-shaped desk that dominated what should have served as the living room, the room facing Witch Light Road. His computer equipment was set up there, and there were filing cabinets that rolled under the desk, though most of his files were online. Aside from the computer desk and chair, in an alcove there were two padded chairs with arms. He’d arranged them facing each other over a small round table, just in case he had a client in his own home who wanted a palm or tarot reading.

This seemed like the obvious and best use of the biggest room, to Manfred. He had no sense of decorating, but he had a great sense of utility. The big room had windows on three sides, all covered with ancient blinds. The blinds were useful but depressing, so he’d put up curtains to camouflage them. The ones he’d hung at the front were forest green and gold, the ones at the side overlooking the driveway were paisley patterned, and the set facing the next house to the east (which was empty) were solid red. Manfred thought the result was cheerful.

He’d placed his grandmother’s love seat and an easy chair in the former dining room, along with the TV on its stand, and he’d jammed Xylda’s little dinette set into an alcove in the kitchen. His bedroom, which was reached through a door in the west wall of the kitchen, was very basic. With Bobo’s help, he’d assembled the double bed and made it up with sheets and a bedspread. The bathroom off it, the only one in the house, was also basic, but large enough. There was a toolshed in the backyard, which he hadn’t investigated. But he’d taken the time to make an exploratory trip to the biggest grocery store in Davy, so there was food in the refrigerator.

Manfred was satisfied that he was set up in his new place and ready to go back to work.

The first website he visited was the one dedicated to “Bernardo, Psychic and Seer.” His publicity picture was half of the home page. He was wearing all black, naturally, and he was standing in the middle of a field with lightning coming out of his fingers. (Every time he admired the Photoshopped bolts, he thought of his lightning-struck friend, Harper.)

Bernardo, Psychic and Seer, had gotten 173 e-mails during the days he’d been busy with the move. He checked them quickly. Some of them were of the spam variety, and he quickly deleted them. Four were from women who wanted to get to know him intimately, one similar message was from a man, five were from people who thought he ought to go to hell, and ten were from people who wanted to know more about his “powers.” He referred them to his biography, largely fictitious and obviously prominent on his home page. In Manfred’s experience, people were endlessly prone to ignore the obvious—especially people who were seeking help from psychics. Out of the 173 messages, he would answer the rest, but in his estimation there were only nine that might lead to money.

His duty done by the Bernardo visitors, he checked his “The Incredible Manfredo” website. If you used your credit card (or PayPal) to give fifteen dollars to Manfredo to answer your question, he would reply. The Incredible Manfredo was adept at discerning this answer “from beyond” and relaying that answer to the questioner over the Internet. The beyond was “the place from whence he received his awesome powers.” Many seekers were attracted to the Incredible Manfredo, a dark-haired, dramatically handsome man in his forties, judging by the picture on the website. He had 194 questioners lined up, and these people had paid. Responding to these took quite a bit longer, and Manfred thought about his replies carefully. It was impossible to use his true gift over the Internet, but he did use a lot of psychology, and he thought a television doctor could not have done better. Especially since most of the answers could be made clearer in a subsequent query for another charge of fifteen dollars.

After he’d spent three hours working on the “Incredible” website, Manfred made his third stop of the day, at his professional Facebook page under his full name, Manfred Bernardo. The Facebook picture was much slicker and played up his pale face, his platinum spiked hair, and the multiple piercings on his face. Tiny silver rings followed the line of one eyebrow, his nose was pierced, and his ears were scattered with silver rings and studs. He couldn’t stomach gauges, but he’d had his rook pierced. He looked very dynamic, very intense. The photographer had worked well with him.

There were lots of messages and comments on his last posting, which read: “I’ll be out of touch for a few days. It’s time for me to retreat and meditate, to tune my psyche for the jobs ahead. When I’m back in touch with you, I’ll have some amazing news.”

Now Manfred had to decide what the amazing news would be. Had he received a great revelation from the spirits of those who’d passed beyond? If so, what would it be? Or maybe it was the right moment for Manfred Bernardo, Psychic and Seer, to make some personal appearances. That would be some amazing news, all right.

He decided that now that he was in Texas, fresh territory, he would schedule some one-on-ones, for a few weeks from now. These were taxing, sure, but he could charge a lot more for them. On the other hand, there was the expense of travel. He had to stay in a very good hotel, to reassure the clients that they were getting their money’s worth. But it would feel good to touch the flesh a little, get the spark going again. He’d learned everything about the psychic business from his grandmother, and she’d believed in the power of personal attention.

Though Xylda had loved the concept of easy money to be made online, she’d never adapted to it; and really, she’d been more of a performance artist. He grinned as he remembered Xylda’s appearances in front of the press during the last big murder case she’d worked. She’d enjoyed every minute of the publicity. Most grandsons would have found the old lady a source of acute embarrassment: her bright dyed hair, her flamboyant clothes and makeup, her histrionics. But Manfred had found Xylda a fountain of information and instruction, and they’d adored each other.

For all Xylda’s fraudulent claims, she’d had flashes of the real thing. Manfred hoped she’d never realized that he was much more gifted than she’d ever been. He had a sad suspicion that Xylda had known this, but they’d never done more than refer obliquely to it. Now they never would. He dreamed of her often, and she talked to him in those dreams, but it was more of a monologue than a dialogue.

Maybe she would pop up in one of his séances.

On the whole, he hoped she wouldn’t.

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See All Sort by: Showing 1 – 20 of 62 Customer Reviews
  • Posted May 8, 2014

    Midnight Crossroads, Charlaine Harris. Arc supplied via Netgall

    Midnight Crossroads, Charlaine Harris.
    Arc supplied via Netgalley

    I'm a fervent Sookie Stack-house fan, have reads the whole series a few times now * blush *, and enjoyed the Lily Bard series also, and when I saw Charlaine had a new series beginning I had to request a copy!
    So, what did I think? Well, Sookie had me engrossed from the first page, but this has a more gentle feel. It took me a while to really get into the book, although I “knew” Bobo the other characters were new to me, not having read the other series Charlaine wrote. However they're all interesting characters and as the story moved on I felt like I was getting to know them better. It must be difficult writing a new series after so many years immersed in BonTemps, and its become such a popular series that Charlaine's name becomes almost synonymous with Sookie Stack-house...and that's a tough act to follow. Writing is tough anyway – I know, I tried ( and failed!) so following a popular novel is a real challenge but one that's working well here I think. I like the idea of meeting some of the characters as they have grown on.
    Bobo is older than when I knew him, but still the same affable, generous man. The other characters each had their own quirks, Manfred, a new resident to Midnight, is an online Psychic, Fiji who's a witch ( with the fabulous cat Mr Snuggles!!), there's the Rev, slightly mysterious, very aloof, and respected by all, he does weddings and pet funerals...Lemuel, a vampire with a difference, Olivia – well, she's clearly more than human but I’m not sure exactly what she is. There are others too, but these seem to be the main characters so far, and the story slowly unfolds. Its a gentle mystery, setting the scene for some further developments from this story I suspect...and I didn't work out who or what was behind it. I like being surprised and this certainly caught me out.
    It feels as though even though I think I know more about these people and the mystery that developed by the end of the novel, there's still very much more to come, and I'm hoping its going to be another fairly long series. It appears like one of those where you think once the mystery has been solved that's it, end, finis, and yet it's not, each development builds on to a larger, more complex one, and we get lost in a different world. It's a gentle start, not an in the throat, grab you and suck you in to the story that Sookie was for me, but more the slow introduction and build up of characters and story that the Lily Bard mysteries were. I enjoyed it, but I think I was expecting a more Sookie type of drama. My bad, its clearly labelled as something very different. Still – I want to read more, and see where this series is taking us. Its a subdued, gentle start, not a drama filled, emotional read. I've genuinely no idea what's going to come next, that's part of the fun, and I enjoyed this beginning to a new series.
    Stars: Four, a very interesting beginning
    ARC supplied via Netgalley.

    10 out of 14 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted May 9, 2014

    Despite the fact that this is marked "First in a new trilog

    Despite the fact that this is marked "First in a new trilogy-Never before Published" one thing readers should know is that Manfred Bernado is NOT a new character in Charlaine Harris' worlds. He was a main supporting character in the Harper Connelly series and featured in Games Creatures Play. I'd highly recommend reading that series first so you get a better sense of who Manfred Bernardo is, but then I am biased because I quite liked that series, it is so very different from the Sookie Stackhouse series. Speaking frankly I think an extreme interest in at least one of the characters is the only thing that will drag anyone through the boredom that is the first few chapter's meet and greet. Truthfully, it's hard slog even if you are already invested in a character. I'm going to have to admit though, I picked this up fully expecting to lambast it as an awful, money bringing waste of my time, but I've been interested in the continuation of Manfred's story since I read the other series. I'm not going to gush, it wasn't that good, but it was entertaining, vivid, and a solid introduction to what should (assuming Ms. Harris has a plan and admits when to quit) continue to be an entertaining series. I give this book a solid 3 maybe 3.5 stars.




    The whole town (which is pretty sparsely populated) is absolutely filled with people who have secrets and strangeness, and once you get past the meet and greet, Harris starts filling them in at a fairy steady rate. Pay close attention to Bobo though, he's going to be familiar to readers of the Shakespeare series. And while I haven't read the Aurora Teagarden series, I do believe Arthur Smith is from that series. Harris wrote a cast of the type of morally ambivalent characters so common in the Sookie-verse and paired it with a more grounded world view and a good mystery with an ending I didn't see coming, though the secondary mystery was no big surprise to those of us familiar with Bobo. In fact, this was as much Bobo’s book as it was Manfred’s.




    Which I guess brings me to my final thoughts, I cannot quite decide if this is some sort of reward to faithful readers of the previous series or if it is a shameless grub to get people to look into Harris's backlist. I know I feel having read both the Shakespeare and the Connelly series enhanced my enjoyment of this book, and that I've never been particularly interested in the Teagarden series until now (I really want Arthur's back story now). I don't think you HAVE to have read any of these series to get into the book, I'm not even sure if a casual reader of this book would catch any of the connections. When Jayne Ann Krentz interweaves characters and worlds I always feel like it is a reward, here I'm not so certain. I liked it well enough though, that for the moment I am going to try to think positive and will be looking forward to the next book in the series.

    7 out of 10 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted May 13, 2014

    I wish Charlaine Harris would write more Aurora Teagarden books.

    I wish Charlaine Harris would write more Aurora Teagarden books. Loved that series best of all!

    6 out of 8 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted May 26, 2014

    Anonymous

    The book started out choppy and had some problems with its flow. It improved as it progressed. I ended up really liking the characters once I got past the uneven descriptions in the first few chapters.

    5 out of 5 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted May 7, 2014

    Has Charlaine Harris forgotten how to write? Perhaps I accident

    Has Charlaine Harris forgotten how to write? Perhaps I accidentally picked up a book written for small children? The stop-and-go writing of this book is horrific. I feel like I'm reading a Dick, Jane and Spot book. I have absolutely no idea as to where the talented writer of the Sookie Stackhouse books has gone - Did Ms. Harris suffer from a stroke, maybe?

    5 out of 17 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted May 6, 2014

    Charlene Harris books

    After the last book in the True Blood series, I will never spend another penny on this writers books. Only gave it one star to post this coment

    3 out of 43 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted June 3, 2014

    Midnight Crossroad is the first book in the Midnight Texas trilo

    Midnight Crossroad is the first book in the Midnight Texas trilogy by popular American author, Charlaine Harris. Midnight, Texas looks like a pretty standard dried-up western town, with lots of vacant buildings and few full-time inhabitants. The people who do live there, as new resident, psychic Manfred Bernardo soon discovers, are a bit unusual, although most are friendly and helpful. His landlord, Bobo Winthrop runs Midnight Pawn during the day; at night his basement tenants, the chilling Lemuel Bridger and the beautiful and very capable Olivia Charity take care of the business. Fiji Cavanaugh, self-proclaimed witch, runs The Inquiring Mind in a cottage left to her by her Great Aunt Mildred, along with her unusual cat, Mr Snuggles. The reclusive Reverend Emilio Sheehan looks after the Wedding Chapel and Pet Cemetery. Madonna Reed cooks wonderful meals at the Home Cookin diner. The aptly named Joe Strong runs the Antique Gallery and Nail Salon with his partner Chuy Villegas. Shawn Lovell runs the busiest concern in town, the Gas N Go, while keeping a tight rein on his pretty daughter, Creek and handful of a son, Connor. Not long after Manfred’s arrival, the body of Bobo’s missing girlfriend is discovered, and suspicion initially falls on Bobo. A pair of strangers also threatens the peace of the town, and Midnight’s residents take steps to protect their own. A diligent sheriff from nearby Davy, Arthur Smith is determined to flush out the killer. After a somewhat slow start as Harris sets the scene, the pace picks up and this novel is as intriguing and enjoyable as Harris’s other short series: Aurora Teagarden, Lily Bard and Harper Connelly. Fans of those series will recognise Bobo from Shakespeare’s Champion, Manfred from the Harper Connelly series, and Sheriff Arthur Smith from the Aurora Teagarden series. Harris peoples this series with interesting characters, her dialogue is witty and sharp, and the plot includes a vampire, white supremacists, gays, kidnapping, Halloween traditions, arson and a truly shocking climax. Readers who enjoy this instalment will look forward to the next book in the trilogy. 

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted May 9, 2014

    This book was very hard to get into. After reading Charlaine's o

    This book was very hard to get into. After reading Charlaine's other series I noticed a few of the characters mentioned in the book are notable in the others. Even with this incentive to read it to the end it was a very slow read and only pulled me in the last few chapters. Not sure I will get the next one.

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted June 14, 2014

    Good stuff. Harris picks up characters from the Harper Connelly

    Good stuff. Harris picks up characters from the Harper Connelly stories and the Lily Bard stories and sticks them at a crossroads in Texas. It's a nice, homey little ville, but as TV has been telling us for years, the evil is in the small towns. The murder has already taken place when the story starts, and everyone thinks he knows who did it, but the murderer is never who you think it is, is it? Not as Gothic as the Sookie Stackhouse stories, but Gothic enough to give you a tingle.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted June 3, 2014

    I'm a fan of the good Sookie Stackhouse books - which do not inc

    I'm a fan of the good Sookie Stackhouse books - which do not include the last 3! So I was hoping that Ms. Harris got her mojo back for this new one. Sadly, she did not. Seems to be barely warmed up leftovers instead of great new material. I think Ms Harris needs to let go of the fear that tv producers will take her characters away from her again, and put some real passion into her writing again. Sadly, I cannot recommend this one at all, it's boring and has the strangest deus ex machina thing of the vampires in town getting rid of undesirables in an offensive way. Giving it one star for trying, but the trying is too hard, the book is unoriginal, and the storyline lacking in any real interest. Skip it and hope for something better from Ms. Harris next time.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted May 25, 2014

    Hard to get into...

    Once into the story, I liked it. Can't wait for book # 2.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted May 22, 2014

    more from this reviewer

    Nobody does quirky mystery quite like Charlaine Harris.  Midnigh

    Nobody does quirky mystery quite like Charlaine Harris.  Midnight Crossroad introduces you to the residents of Midnight, Texas including psychic Manfred Bernardo (who we met in the Harper Connelly books).  Everybody seems to have their secrets and don’t push to know yours. There are more mysteries than just the town folk and Ms. Harris will have you staying up late to get to the find the answers.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted May 15, 2014

    Fun read

    No sign of Sookie but I loved the characters in Midnight. Look forward to reading more about them

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted July 30, 2014

    Another hit by Harris

    Looking forward to the next book in this series.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted July 27, 2014

    Midnight

    Sungoow its not your fault. What book?

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  • Posted July 26, 2014

    good summer read

    This book has all of the quirky characters tha we have come to expect. I was a little disappointed in the plot development. Would I read the next book? Yes,she has sucked me in again.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted July 15, 2014

    Zombie Apocalypse RP

    Zombies (the social workshop) adrianna white ((2.99) is signups

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  • Anonymous

    Posted July 7, 2014

    I have loved Charlaine Harris's books, so I quickly ordered this

    I have loved Charlaine Harris's books, so I quickly ordered this one.  Even purchased a signed copy, only to be very disappointed.
    This story is not interesting at all for me.  I cannot "get" the characters.  I kept reading waiting for it to pick up, for something to 
    happen, but it never really did.  Personally, I don't like this book at all.  Not sure what happened with her writing, because this 
    does not seems like her at all.  I would not recommend this book.

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  • Posted July 1, 2014

    Interesting Read

    The story was intriguing and although the characters were described along the way, their full ident ies were developed a little at a time until the end. A good mystery read with a quick end that was satisfying.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted June 23, 2014

    Great srory

    I thought this book was a solid, good beginning for a new series.Slowly revealing characters to the reader, layer bylayer. I enjoyed this mystery,was interested in the characters and will read the next one.

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