by Charlaine Harris
Despite the fact that this is marked "First in a new trilogy-Never before Published" one thing readers should know is that Manfred Bernado is NOT a new character in Charlaine Harris' worlds. He was a main supporting character in the Harper Connelly series and featured in Games Creatures Play. I'd highly recommend reading that series first so you get a better sense of who Manfred Bernardo is, but then I am biased because I quite liked that series, it is so very different from the Sookie Stackhouse series. Speaking frankly I think an extreme interest in at least one of the characters is the only thing that will drag anyone through the boredom that is the first few chapter's meet and greet. Truthfully, it's hard slog even if you are already invested in a character. I'm going to have to admit though, I picked this up fully expecting to lambast it as an awful, money bringing waste of my time, but I've been interested in the continuation of Manfred's story since I read the other series. I'm not going to gush, it wasn't that good, but it was entertaining, vivid, and a solid introduction to what should (assuming Ms. Harris has a plan and admits when to quit) continue to be an entertaining series. I give this book a solid 3 maybe 3.5 stars.
The whole town (which is pretty sparsely populated) is absolutely filled with people who have secrets and strangeness, and once you get past the meet and greet, Harris starts filling them in at a fairy steady rate. Pay close attention to Bobo though, he's going to be familiar to readers of the Shakespeare series. And while I haven't read the Aurora Teagarden series, I do believe Arthur Smith is from that series. Harris wrote a cast of the type of morally ambivalent characters so common in the Sookie-verse and paired it with a more grounded world view and a good mystery with an ending I didn't see coming, though the secondary mystery was no big surprise to those of us familiar with Bobo. In fact, this was as much Bobo’s book as it was Manfred’s.
Which I guess brings me to my final thoughts, I cannot quite decide if this is some sort of reward to faithful readers of the previous series or if it is a shameless grub to get people to look into Harris's backlist. I know I feel having read both the Shakespeare and the Connelly series enhanced my enjoyment of this book, and that I've never been particularly interested in the Teagarden series until now (I really want Arthur's back story now). I don't think you HAVE to have read any of these series to get into the book, I'm not even sure if a casual reader of this book would catch any of the connections. When Jayne Ann Krentz interweaves characters and worlds I always feel like it is a reward, here I'm not so certain. I liked it well enough though, that for the moment I am going to try to think positive and will be looking forward to the next book in the series.