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Night Shift
by Charlaine Harris
Ace, $28.00, 308 pp
Published: May 2016

This is the third in Ms. Harris’ newest supernatural mystery series about a whistle-stop-sized town in Texas.  Click here for a review of Midnight Crossing and here for Day Shift.

Midnight, as the town is named, has a very small population but nearly all of them are unique.  Lemuel is a rare sort of vampire, subsisting on energy more than blood; his lover and now wife, Olivia, a normal-seeming human with a mysterious past and a deadly way of dealing with her enemies; Bobo helps Lemuel run the pawnshop and is probably the most normal human in town; Manfred is a real psychic with an online business and rents a house from Bobo; Fiji is a practicing witch with a huge crush on Bobo; the Reverend is a were-tiger and acting as a guardian to a young were-tiger; Joe and Chuy run a salon and antique store and are probably the most ancient of the Midnight inhabitants – presumably since the time of creation.  I almost forgot Fiji’s familiar, her cat Mr. Snuggly.  These people/creatures are the heart of Midnight and while they, no more than anyone else, have no idea why Midnight tends to attract certain people, they are most determined to keep Midnight quiet and unassuming.  Which is why they are so distressed when people start showing up at the crossroads in town to commit suicide; that tends to bring all sorts of unwanted attention.

Lemuel is sure the ancient books that Bobo found in the last novel will give some insight into Midnight’s origins and may provide answers as to why certain people are being called to Midnight to commit suicide.  When Fiji figures out that the people being called are all people with whom she’s had a less-than-pleasant relationship, it becomes a greater mystery as to how that might be related to the ancient tomes in Lemuel’s possession.  Fiji starts hearing a voice in her head about the same time as Lemuel discovers just exactly what is buried at the crossroads and why it is stirring after more than two hundred years.  He also figures out that the clock is ticking and the town has just days to find a way to re-bind the creature struggling to the surface.

All sorts of revelations are made in this story:  Manfred’s family, more discussion of Joe and Chuy’s origins, whether the couple running the diner are with the town or against it, and an introduction to the new manager of the Gas N Go; all of whom play a part in saving the town.  We also get a peek into what exactly Mr. Snuggly brings to his relationship with Fiji (she inherited him along with her house from her witchy aunt).  There is still the remaining mystery of the hotel’s long-term guests and just why they are there.

Ms. Harris writes with a light hand; she doesn’t waste time on flowery phrases or elaborate descriptions.  If the gentle reader is enamored with detail-oriented descriptions so they know exactly what someone is wearing all the time, or how the flowers look and smell, or the feel of Mr. Snuggly’s fur, he or she will need to look elsewhere.  But, if you’re here to meet distinctive characters with an interesting mystery, you are in the right place.  May I have some more, please?   ~~ Catherine Book

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