If you want to know what a diverse read looks like, read Daniel José Older. His Bone Street Rumba series is full of brown characters, gay and lesbian characters, senior characters. None of it is forced, as critics of diverse reads might argue. (And who the hell are they anyway?) No one is a token. Older’s cast feels and, almost more importantly, sounds right. He takes New York and all its variety, slatters it all over with half-zombies, ghosts, and various nasty critters, gives his characters brilliant dialog, and sets it all to a roaring plot. Half-Resurrection Blues was amazing, but Midnight Taxi Tango just blew me away. Older sets the standard for anyone attempting to write contemporary fantasy and write diversely.
Midnight Taxi Tango is set several months after the events of Half-Resurrection Blues. After his lover left, Carlos has been looking more dead than usual. Even his bosses are trying to squelch him. They won’t let him investigate a series of very strange deaths around Prospect Park. Carlos being Carlos investigates anyway and discovers, of all things, a cockroach cult. (This is exactly as weird as it sounds.) The plot follows Carlos and his more-than-usually ragtag band of allies as they work out what the roaches are up to and how to defeat them.
This synopsis just covers the surface of Midnight Taxi Tango. For one thing, Carlos shares time with two other narrators. Reza works for an escort service as a bodyguard and driver before the agency’s leader decides they’re going vigilante after losing two employees to the roaches. One of the victims was Reza’s girlfriend and Reza will not stop until the people (creatures) responsible have been exterminated. (Yes, pun.) The third narrator is Kia, who works at Baba Eddie’s botánica. Kia has just landed in a pile of weirdness and does her best to adjust when she starts to see ghosts, meets her long-lost cousin, and winds up on the roaches’ hit list.
It was pure joy to read Older’s Midnight Taxi Tango. Yes, it’s bizarre, but it was so much fun and I loved the characters so much that it could have gotten even weirder and I wouldn’t have minded. The diverse cast is terrific. I could have stayed around for another 100 pages, just for the dialog. I am so looking forward to the next book in the series.