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*Devil's Tango: The Devil's Dances Trilogy* by Herve Jubert- young adult dark fantasy book review

Also by Herve Jubert:

The Devil's Dances Trilogy #1: Dance of the Assassins

Devil's Tango: The Devil's Dances Trilogy
by Herve Jubert
Grades 9+ 384 pages Eos October 2006 Hardcover    

The crime-solving duo comprised of witch Roberta Morganstern and Clement Martineau, whose awareness of his magical lineage grows as he learns witchcraft, are back after their initial pairing in Herve Jubertís Dance of the Assassins in the equally compelling and immensely readable Devil's Tango. Itís a dark, comic-bookish fantasy involving their search for the evil murderer known by the people of Basle as the Baron of the Mists. He murders his victims in assorted gruesome ways, based on historical punishments meted out to the guilty during different time periods, nations, and cultures. Itís of no importance to the Baron of the Mists if the person he kills is actually personally guilty of any crime; the guilt of anyone in the personís genetic lineage, encoded with a brand in their DNA and passed down through the generations, is enough basis for his actions.

The Baron of the Mists first appeared in Basle about forty years previous to the action in Devil's Tango, terrorizing the citizenry by going on a killing spree. Tracers, miniature flying devices that analyze DNA and track evildoers down better than any bloodhound, failed to locate the bloody Baron and bring him to justice. Even Major Gruber, now head of the CID (Criminal Investigation Department) but at the time an up-and-coming detective, couldnít stop the Baronís murderous deeds - they simply ran their course before finally, mercifully ending. Now, in Devil's Tango, heís back, as deadly as ever, and Roberta and Martineau have their hands full trying to succeed where their boss failed.

The first three murders occur in less than two days. Teenager Zrcaldo, exploring a mine, gets run through and splattered about by a huge drill bit on a tunneler; a middle-aged woman named Martha Werber is found at the local zoo, eaten from the inside out by Amazonian ants; and the baker Pasqualini is shut up in his own oven to bake to death. The only link at first appears to be that the timings of the murders are somehow linked to wind patterns in Basle, as Martineau learns when he finds a pamphlet with an engraving of a compass rose on it titled ďStudy of Surface Winds Passing Through Basle.Ē He opens up his red notebook and ponders the words he reads there:
Pasqualini, Zrcaldo, Werber. The wind was there to meet them. The two sets of data coincided perfectly. It was as clear to see as it was impossible to explain.
In addition to the Baron of the Mists, Roberta, Clement and Robertaís love interest, Gregoire Rosemonde, have to tangle with a Golem under the control of two evil witches, Camillia Banshee and Hector Barnabite, who are also trying to use the Devilís DNA and elements collected from the murder victims to bring to life a baby they hope will make them more powerful than ever. Also, a series of elections seem likely to confirm the scheming Archibald Fould as the townís new Mayor, and Robertaís telepathic pet hedgehog with a penchant for Beatles music has been missing for six months.

Will Roberta, Rosemonde, and Martineau catch the Baron of the Mists and put an end to the Golem and the nefarious plans of Barnabite, Banshee, and Fould? Can they stop Barnabite and Banshee from collecting the final element they need to bring the Devilís offspring to life? Will Robertaís hedgehog ever come back? Get ready for a rollercoaster ride guaranteed to keep you reading late into the night.

Herve Jubert spins a fascinating, suspenseful tale of mystery, murder, and magic thatís a worthy successor to the first book of ďThe Devilís DancesĒ trilogy, Dance of the Assassins. Devil's Tango can be enjoyed without having to read the first book, though doing so is recommended, both because itís a solidly good read and also for additional background information. The murders are pretty gruesome, and this probably makes Devil's Tango best suited for older teens and adults than a younger crowd. Jubert is an outstanding author, and this is an exciting page-turning follow-up that will leave you hoping that the third book will be translated from the original French and released in America as soon as possible.

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  Douglas R. Cobb/2006 for curled up with a good kid's book  

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