“Tango, like love, is complicated”
The tag line for Luna Tango, Australian author Alli Sinclair’s debut novel, more or less sums up what we are in for as readers of this story.
Dani McKenna is an Australian journalist living in New York who travels to Buenos Aires on a writing assignment to write an article on the history of tango. On a more personal level, she is also there to unravel the mystery surrounding why her mother left her twenty-years ago. As part of her assignment, Dani meets the brooding, moody Carlos Escudero, a famous tango dancer, who helps her with her story. Carlos inadvertently gets Dani curious about the circumstances surrounding a local unsolved murder of a 1950s tango music legend, and being a journalist, she tries to delve deeper into the mystery. Of course, none of Dani’s relationships or decisions in the novel are straightforward. As Carlos points out to her, tango, like love, is indeed complicated.
The feel of the novel is very reminiscent of those by Australian author Belinda Alexandra, in particular, Alexandra’s novel The Golden Earrings. As in The Golden Earrings, Sinclair uses duel storylines, one taking place in the present and one taking place in the past and eventually entwining with each other, to move her story along. However, Sinclair’s novel is not quite as polished and well executed as those of Belinda Alexandra, however this may just come down to inexperience.
The key plot twists in this novel are somewhat predictable, particularly once the dual storylines both take off, however you do get hooked on the story and the events taking place, despite the predictability. Particularly enjoyable are the scenes in the milonga, a public dance hall, where Dani and her two left feet attempt to learn to tango. It was a pleasant surprise that, as a romance novel (it is published by Harlequin after all) it was very much focused on the storyline and not as much on the romance as reader’s might originally think it would be – the romance aspect was used to enhance the story rather than carry the entire plot.
Overall, this was an enjoyable novel to read. The multi-layered storyline and the history of tango and Buenos Aires in the 1950s keeps you interested throughout the book. In places, it does show through that the author is writing her first novel, however, it doesn’t detract too much from the story. If you enjoyed The Golden Earrings, then you will probably also enjoy Luna Tango.