The author of Half-Resurrection Blues returns in a new Bone Street Rumba Novel - a knife-edge, noir-shaded urban fantasy of crime after death.
The streets of New York are hungry tonight...Carlos Delacruz straddles the line between the living and the not-so alive. As an agent for the Council of the Dead, he eliminates New York's ghostlier problems. This time it's a string of gruesome paranormal accidents in Brooklyn's Von King Park that has already taken the lives of several locals - and is bound to take more.
The incidents in the park have put Kia on edge. When she first met Carlos, he was the weird guy who came to Baba Eddie's botánica, where she worked. But the closer they've gotten, the more she's seeing the world from Carlos's point of view. In fact, she's starting to see ghosts. And the situation is far more sinister than that - because whatever is bringing out the dead, it's only just getting started.
I really dug Older's first book in the Bone Street Rumba series, Half Resurrection Blues, when it came out at the beginning of 2015, and am enjoying this second installment just as much.
The author is an interesting character himself, until 2014 an EMT by day, and a musician and author by night. His musical side comes out in a lot of his prose, which is very attuned to the sounds of NYC, where the Bone Street Rumba books take place.
These two books, along with Salsa Nocturna, his first collection of short stories, introduce many wonderful characters in Brooklyn, "civilian" and supernatural, primarily Carlos Delacruz, an agent for the Council of the Dead, and himself an in-betweener, half dead and half alive. The second character that comes to life in a great deal more detail in this book is Kia, a teenage girl who, against her will, is becoming all too deeply involved in Carlos' supernatural world.
Although Carlos was the narrator for the entirety of H-R Blues, Older has chosen to structure this second book by alternating the first person narration of each chapter; thus, Carlos narrates one chapter, Kia the next, and so on. It's a really interesting mode of storytelling, and Older is satisfyingly believable, in both his writing and his spoken narration, in both these voices.
Unlike the majority of books in the urban fantasy world, most of the characters in The Bone Street Rumba 'verse are men and women of color, a beautiful and rich layer to Older's already imaginative and cool storytelling. There are many beautifully drawn characters, wonderful comedic moments, great action, some creepy scary stuff, some lovely sweet moments, and a few awesome monologues of just plain philosophizing.
Bonus; the author himself reads his works and is a terrific narrator, giving each character a very specific sound. He's quite good and makes the listening experience super enjoyable.
There's some language, nothing terribly rough, a few f-words, but it is, nonetheless, a story with some sweetness at its heart. The hero and the people he is surrounded by are good, kind, and funny.
If you want to start at the very beginning, start with Salsa Nocturna, a nice introduction to the Bone Street Rumba 'verse, then dig right in. If you're a fan of urban fantasy, I know you'll enjoy it.
5 of 5 people found this review helpful
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Really enjoyed the first book, but this installment is crazy cool, one of the best urban fantasy novels I've listened to. Older has gotten better in every way, writing, writing prose, and most importantly narration. Listening to this novel was like listening to Miles Davis, no matter what's going on, it's f'n so cool.
2 of 2 people found this review helpful
I would absolutely recommend "Midnight Taxi Tango" to urban fantasy/horror fans, though I would advise reading the previous book, "Half-Resurrection Blues," first as while this one CAN stand on its own, there's significant context regarding Carlos, his behavior, and state of mind that's gained by reading the series in order.
Older's writing always paints a vivid picture, and this is no more apparent than when he describes the vile creatures in his stories. With a thoroughly creepy menace, it's easy to feel concern for the fate of the protagonists, and it was difficult to stop listening each time I had to turn off the book for another task or sleep. While I really like Carlos and want to know more about the mystery of his life and death, the female characters really shine and captured my attention in this one. Kia, Reza, and Sasha (though her appearance is limited) are all fierce, emotionally complex, and all-around fascinating individuals. Kia in particular is easy to love. This story is a perfect expansion of an already rich and vibrant world, combining Brooklyn with the supernatural.
Once again, the author narrates the story - something which I thoroughly enjoy. While he doesn't use the range of tones or accents that other narrators do, Older still gives each speaker their own unique voice and brings to life the lyricism in the writing in a way that I'm not sure another could. All in all, I think this book is well worth the listen.
I enjoyed Salsa Nocturna (5*) and Half-Resurrection Blues (4*) and held off getting the next in the series in favor of a binge re-listen of comedies (the Cabin Pressure series and the Patrick McManus folksy short stories), plus a re-listen of the Iron Druid series, and the Peter Grant series.
So, that may be why this book is so dark and horror-filled after all the binge re-listening to series full of wit, bright descriptives and interesting characters. The difference from comedy and fun to such dark horror is jarring.
But, this book also doesn't hold for me the same urban cultural charm that captured me with Salsa Nocturna and Half-Resurrection Blues. I loved the layers of descriptions of people and society in the two previous books and so far that has been lacking in this book.
And, after listening to Luke Daniels (Iron Druid series) and Kobna Holdbrook-Smith (Peter Grant series) and Norman Dietz (Patrick McManus books) narrate books with their broad range of voices and accents and personalities and timely emotional inflections I got spoiled.
Listening to this book I would wonder who was talking because even the women were read in the deep rich masculine voice and I would have to go back in the story on my iPod to recalibrate and listen in the new character's point of view.
I don't like horror and detailed gross descriptions and do love vibrant descriptions of people and surroundings and witty or meaningful dialogue. The first two books were more vibrant and not so horrific - there was at least ironic humor in them.
6 hours and 37 minutes left in this book and it's just too dark, gross, and bleak to continue - returning this one.