Night Shift (A Novel of Midnight, Texas), by Charlaine Harris

This is the third and most recent of three books by Charlaine Harris, creator of the Sookie Stackhouse series, set in the small town of Midnight, Texas. The books have already been the basis of a series on NBC.

Midnight is a small town populated by a strange group of people in touch with the supernatural. One of the key residents is Fiji Cavanaugh, a witch who lives in a house inherited from her great-aunt who had the same powers. She runs a shop out of the house selling items related to the supernatural such as tarot cards and ceremonial knives and lives with a talking (at least Fiji can hear him) cat who came with the house. She also has a flirting relationship with Bobo, a neighbor with no magical powers but who shyly flirts back.

Others in the town include a vampire who runs a pawn shop and a weir tiger and his son. There’s also a newcomer to town, a Native American who moved in to run the shop and go in town.

Now something even stranger is happening in Midnight. Strangers arrive in town, sometimes with a weapon purchased in town and sometimes with one they brought for themselves. Within a few minutes in town they use the weapon to commit suicide.

The townspeople are now trying to figure out the cause of the rash of suicides, and signs begin to point to an evil power trapped long before in the town crossroads. The answer seems to be contained in an ancient book written in Etruscan which, unfortunately, no one in town can read. Further complicating things for Fiji is the arrival of her older sister Kiki (short for Waikiki … their parents had a thing for islands) who is freshly divorced and hoping to liven up her lovelife with some of the men in Midnight.

Harris has a great knack for drawing fun and attractive characters into books about the supernatural. Though she runs them through horrifying events she is able to maintain a sense of humor and lightheartedness. Despite it being part of a series this standalone book reads like an independent novel with nothing making you wish you’d read the earlier books to get the full picture. Fiji has an of aura of a romantic innocent, similar to Stephanie Plum. The book is fun to read with touches of horror but nothing to keep a reader awake at night.