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…
*Blurb taken from Goodreads
After having read both Midnight Crossroad (reviewed here) and now Day Shift, I’m beginning to believe that this series doesn’t have a main point-of-view character. This is not necessarily a good thing for the series overall, but was okay (actually okay-er) for this second book in the series.
Manfred Bernardo serves as our entree into Midnight, Texas. He is the newest resident of this extremely quirky town, and he’s also slightly familiar from his cameo appearances in two of Harris’ other series, Sookie Stackhouse and Harper Connelly.
It’s also possible that the author is just having a difficult time writing a male point-of-view character. In the first book in the Midnight series, if the main character was anyone, it was the witch Fiji. In Day Shift, the person doing the most to move the action forwards is Olivia Charity, the local contract killer.
I don’t mean that she does her killing locally, unless it’s to cover up something else. I mean that she lives in Midnight, where keeping your nose out of other people’s business is practically a religion. She usually does her killing elsewhere.
Her “boyfriend” is the local vampire, Lemuel Bridger. Since Lemuel is a couple of hundred years old, the term “boyfriend” seems a bit odd, but it’s the closest thing out there. They are lovers, and they take care of each other. Unfortunately for Olivia, Lemuel is absent for most of Day Shift, dealing with the antique black magic books that were uncovered at the end of Midnight Crossroad.
Day Shift starts out with two murders. And while they don’t occur in Midnight, they do involve Midnight residents. Both Olivia and Manfred find themselves at the same upscale hotel in Dallas on business. Olivia is in the business of killing people, but Manfred is there to do in-person psychic readings. It is his misfortune that one of his favorite clients dies in the middle of a reading. From Manfred’s perspective, it seems as if her late husband came to get her. Literally. Murder isn’t suspected until much later.
Olivia is just very good at her job.
Back in Midnight, someone is doing a gut rehab on the old hotel, and turning it into a kind of bed and breakfast with suites for senior citizens who are waiting for rooms to be available in assisted living facilities elsewhere, along with a few regular rooms for folks who are doing contract work for the local internet services company, Magic Portal.
The reopening of the new hotel should be a good thing, but it isn’t. The grand opening brings media to Midnight, and no one in Midnight wants any publicity – that’s why they moved to Midnight in the first place. It doesn’t help the creepy feeling among the residents that nothing about the new hotel makes much sense, or seems to be in any way on the up and up.
Needless to say, the plots converge. Olivia’s initial contract murder only seems to serve to put her in the right place at the right time for the Dallas cops to wonder if she has something to do with the mess with Manfred’s client.
Also to heighten her sense of exposure. She is paranoid and living in Midnight because there really is someone out to get her. While we don’t learn much about Olivia’s past, we get just enough of a glimpse to see how she might have ended up where she has. And to get the feeling that further revelations are not going to be pretty.
Manfred is the one who ends up in a truly serious pickle. The entire town bands together to get the media, the cops, and the killers off his back and out of their hair. The mess that Manfred has innocently found himself in takes a lot of fun and surprising twists and turns, but things get more or less resolved by the end.
Evil does get its just desserts, some of which turn out to be particularly gooey.
What is more interesting are the revelations about some of the Midnight residents. We do finally find out the secrets that the Rev, Joe and Chuy are hiding. Along with guest appearances by not one but two of the secondary characters in the Sookie series.
I liked Day Shift a lot better than I did Midnight Crossroad. It wasn’t so much that that pesky point-of-view problem has been solved as that this book felt like Olivia’s story from beginning to end. Even though the big problem in the story is Manfred’s he looked to Olivia to solve it, and it is her actions that move the story forward – with a little help from Fiji and the new residents at the old Inn.
Manfred’s opponent, or should I say accuser, was on the one hand a cardboard cutout, and on the other hand, he was intended to be. He was textbook bananas, and he acted like it. Everyone has seen someone like him in fiction if not real life. Even the cops didn’t want to take his accusations seriously, and were a bit desperate for any alternative solution. This villain was pathetically funny, until he wasn’t. And then he screwed himself up all over again.
In addition to Manfred’s case, there is the issue of the hotel rehab. It’s pretty obvious that things aren’t quite kosher, but we never do find out exactly what the purpose of the thing is. We only know it isn’t anything that it said it was. I’d love to see this issue resolved at some point.
Because the story swept me along, in spite of still wondering who the real star of this show is, I give Day Shift a very solid B.