Kirsten Reviews: Midnight Taxi Tango by Daniel José Older
Midnight Taxi Tango by Daniel José Older
Bone Street Rumba #2
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.
Midnight Taxi Tango by Daniel José Older continues his Bone Street Rumba series. The first hurdle for any sequel is to measure up to its predecessor and raise the stakes. In this case, the book picks up the story of Carlos Delacruz, a man who is neither fully alive nor completely dead. The exact circumstances of his death aren’t clear, and part of what occupies his existence “in between” is trying to figure out what happened to him. The rest of the time he works as part of the clean up crew or enforcement division of the New York Council of the Dead and hunts down and executes those ghosts or other supernatural beings who break the rules.
Of late there has been a number of murders around Brooklyn’s Von King Park which have the marks of a paranormal culprit, and Carlos is tasked with finding the perpetrator and dealing with them. At one point he and his team are able to interrupt an attack and the intended victim is someone Carlos knows fairly well, Kia, a teenage girl who works for one of Carlos’ friends. Although Kia is justifiably freaked out about the fact that now she’s been touched by a ghost she can see all the spirits and other creatures that most living people have no idea about, she’s far from the kind of girl who will sit out a fight, despite Carlos thinking doing so will protect her from the monsters.
As heroic protagonists go, Carlos is in a sorry state following the events of the last book, and is often the character about to run heedlessly into danger, if not for the intervention of other characters. While his state of mind made sense, at times it felt as if he should simply not be allowed anywhere without a buddy.
The story has several points of view, that of Carlos, as well as Kia and another character named Reza. This does provide other perspectives, but at times it felt as if Kia or Reza should have their own story, as there wasn’t enough room for Kia’s story or Reza’s past, and the route she to finding out that the dead don’t rest easy at all. There were a couple other side characters who deserve their own novels, and given some of the connections, but romantic and otherwise, this is very likely in the rest of the series.
The story moves along without stumbling as it bounces from one character to another, but there felt like there were some parts of the story weren’t tied together as strongly as they could be, and there was more explaining than should have been necessary. But, as a whole, the characters had clear goals and were all prepared to do whatever was necessary to get revenge, avenge lost loved ones, or protect their families. If readers have any issues with cursing, roaches or violence this may be too much for them, but Older’s stories are not prettied up, and the characters are up against stakes that compel them to make difficult choices and keep putting one foot in front of the other to keep going.