Day Shift, by Charlaine Harris

This is going to sound a little strange, but I mean it as a compliment: Charlaine Harris's Midnight, Texas novels are a delightful opportunity to indulge in benign nosiness. Her characters are still only half-developed (at most), but the odd, disjointed peeks she offers into their lives makes me feel like I've had an opportunity to eavesdrop on the private conversations, sit in on the secret meetings, and read the personal correspondence of a bunch of incredibly interesting, incredibly weird people.

Day Shift takes place a few months after the events of Midnight Crossroad. There's no tourism in Midnight, so the town's handful of residents are confused and suspicious when a mysterious company with deep pockets suddenly re-opens the ancient Midnight Hotel. The Midnighters aren't big on outsiders, but the hotel soon becomes the least of their problems: one resident is accused of theft, another is implicated in a murder, and the entire town is uncomfortably aware that the sudden influx of new people might draw attention to their youngest and strangest resident—a boy who seems to be growing older supernaturally quickly.

Once again, I love how effectively this series showcases Harris's strengths and downplays her weaknesses. I have never been a fan of Harris's characterization skills, and I'm even less impressed by her idea of romantic chemistry. (For example, there's a potential pairing in these books between two characters named Fiji and Bobo. In addition to the fact that Bobo has all the sexual charisma of a roll of paper towels, I simply cannot take any combination of those names seriously.) On the other hand, Harris has a gift for creating satisfying, densely plotted series installments, and Day Shift gracefully avoids her usual characterization stumbles by splitting the story between a wide variety of perspectives. No one character has all the answers, but that actually makes piecing together the various mysteries besetting Midnight even more satisfying for the reader—you get to feel like Harriet the Spy!
Posted by: Julianka


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