Charlaine Harris novels are pure brain candy, which makes them fast, fun summer reads. After closing her wildly successful Southern Vampire Series (SVS), which was made into TV’s popular “True Blood,” Harris takes readers on a new adventure to Midnight, Texas; a small town with big mysteries.
Moving from steamy Louisiana to blistering west Texas allows Harris to create a new world as well as introduce her trademark quirky characters.
Midnight Crossroad is written in the third person, a departure from SVS and my favorite of her series, The Harper Connelly Mysteries. The new POV felt more detached to me, and lacks Harris usual witty banter. Additionally, the tale is told from multiple perspectives instead of focusing on a single character. While this change gives readers insight into the lives of the local citizenry, I felt that it lacked the immediacy found in Harris’ other novels.
Harris also mentions characters and situations which took place in other books. Manfred Bernardo, a key character in Midnight Crossroad, was introduced in Book 2 of The Harper Connelly Mysteries, Grave Surprise, and was significant to the resolution of the storylines in both An Ice Cold Grave, and Grave Secret. While it is not unusual for an author to spin off characters and create new stories for them, I found what appeared to be references to individuals and events from the Lily Bard (Shakespeare) Series and the Aurora Teagarden Series.
These cross references began to bother me so much that they started throwing me out of the Midnight Crossroad. Every time a new character was introduced, I wondered if it was one I had read about in another series. While The Harper Connelly Mysteries /Midnight Crossroad link seems to be relevant, the references to other works don’t seem significant to the plot. Perhaps this will change as the series develops, but for now it feels like a marketing ploy designed to sell books. This supposition is not helped by Harris’ 2012 announcement that the SyFy Channel is making a television adaption of The Harper Connelly Mysteries series. It’s smart marketing, but it annoyed me.
The town of Midnight, TX fascinated me though, particularly since I lived in Texas for ten years. I kept trying to figure out if a real town served as a template, and where it might be located. While there doesn’t appear to be a “real” Midnight, there are couple of places which could easily serve as a stand-in.
Harris gives lots of clues as to the possible location of Midnight. In the novel, the town is described as “west of Fort Worth.” It’s additionally about thirty miles from Lubbock. Readers familiar with Texas know that puts Midnight smack dab in the middle of nowhere.
There are a couple of other tempting clues that suggest a possible location. The “Roca Fria” meanders past “Cold Rock;” a popular picnic spot for locals. The key clue for siting Midnight is the reference to dinosaur footprints in a streambed. All of the tips add up to a location near the Dinosaur Valley State Park close to Glen Rose, Texas. Glen Rose may be a little big to be Midnight, but its location four miles from the Dinosaur Valley State Park makes it a plausible contender. Glen Rose is also the self-proclaimed “Dinosaur Capital of Texas.”
At Dinosaur Valley State Park, visitors can compare their footprints to those left long ago by dinosaurs, just like in the novel. Approximately 113 million years ago during the early Cretaceous Period, the limestones, sandstones, and mudstones of the Glen Rose Formation were deposited along the shorelines of an ancient sea. Over the last million years, the layered formations have been carved away by the Paluxy River revealing dinosaur footprints.
The park site has been surprisingly controversial. Claims made by “young-earth” creationists, (YECs) say that “twin set” tracks found in the limestone beds actually show fossilized human footprints alongside dinosaur tracks. In recent years, many creationists have abandoned this theory.
None of the current information stops YEC Carl Bagh from operating The Creation Evidence Museum in Glen Rose, which “provides scientific evidence for creation to thousands of people each year.”
I’d love to see Harris tackle the YECs in her new Midnight, TX series. She’s already introduced a creepy reclusive preacher, “The Rev,” who oversees Midnight’s tiny, rundown church and attached pet cemetery. It would be great to see her spin on the “twin set” tracks, and other YEC creation theories.
I travel to Texas at least once per year. The next time I head south, I plan to stop in the Dinosaur Valley State Park and The Creation Evidence Museum to compare notes. I’ll take Midnight Crossroad with me, to see if I can locate the “Home Cookin” diner.
Series: Midnight, Texas (Book 1)
Hardcover: 320 pages
Publisher: Ace Hardcover; First Edition edition (May 6, 2014)