Doppelgangster: Book Two of Esther Diamond Mass Market Paperback – Jan 5 2010
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"Fans of Charlaine Harris's Sookie Stackhouse series will appreciate this series' lively heroine and the appealing combination of humor, mystery, and romance." —Library Journal (starred review)
“Gleeful, clever... [Resnick] spins a witty, fast-paced mystery around her convincingly self-absorbed chorus-girl heroine." —Publishers Weekly
"An amusing urban fantasy starring a wonderful heroine surrounded by a horde of eccentrics, one straight cop, and one interfering matchmaking mom. The jocular story line is filled with a fast-paced frenzy from the first magical mugging until the last as Esther proves once again to be a reader's best friend with her misadventures in Manhattan mystical mayhem." —Midwest Book Review
"Dopplegangster is a joy from start to finish, with a sexy hero, a smart heroine (Does Laura Resnick write any other kind?), a fascinating plot, and a troop of supporting characters both lovable and otherwise. It's a wonderful blend of comedy and surprising suspense. If you haven't met Esther Diamond yet, then you're missing out on a lot of fun." —Linda Howard, New York Times Bestselling author
About the Author
Laura Resnick was born in Chicago, and when she was a teenager her family moved to Cincinnati, Ohio. Growing up in a family of writers, daughter of SF writer Mike Resnick, she never thought she would end up in a writing career, herself. A cum laude graduate of Georgetown University, where she studied languages and linguistics. Laura can speak French and Italian. After college, she moved overseas for a few years, where she studed acting at London Webber Douglas Academy of Dramatic Art. Laura Resnick can be found at sff.net/people/laresnick/.See all Product Description
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Before long, though, Esther lands in deep trouble. One of Bella Stella's regulars, Chubby Charlie, sees a perfect double of himself and then is murdered right in front of her. She's traumatized by the event, the tabloids are painting her as mob-connected, Lopez doesn't believe her version of events, and she's starting to suspect that Charlie's double was created by magic. When other doubles start popping up, followed by more murders, it's up to Esther to find the killer, with the help of Max, her centuries-old wizard friend; Lucky, an aging wiseguy; and Max's new "familiar," Nelli, who may be a mystical creature but seems more like an ordinary, slobbering Canis familiaris.
What follows is a twisty, well-executed mystery plot laced with plenty of humor. Laura Resnick touches on some serious themes from time to time -- these are gangsters, not Boy Scouts, after all -- but DOPPELGANGSTER never gets too heavy or depressing. In fact, it's laugh-out-loud funny, the kind of book that makes me want to use words like "screwball" and "romp." Esther and her friends make a hilarious team, and I love watching them interact. My favorite scenes include Lucky teaching Max to use gangster lingo, and pretty much any scene involving the dog. (Max would of course correct me. I shouldn't call Nelli a dog. She's a familiar!)
DOPPELGANGSTER is a great mix of urban fantasy, humor, mystery, and maybe a dash of chick lit. It had me in stitches. I also recommend Resnick's first Esther Diamond book, Disappearing Nightly. You don't have to read it to follow Doppelgangster's storyline, but it's worth tracking down anyway, just because it's fun!
When Esther's favorite wiseguy customer Chubby Charlie Chiccante is gunned down in front of her after seeing his mystical doppelganger, she's drawn deeply into a web of magical intrigue and the mobster underworld. Who is creating the magical doppelganger assassins that threaten to start an all out mob war between New York's notorious crime families? And can she stop it before she ends up sleeping with the fishes too?
Doppelgangster is an energetic gangster tale with elements of the paranormal that is both witty and hilarious. At first, I didn't know what to expect when starting it. Was it a paranormal? Was it a mystery? Was it a thriller? Was it a romance? I was so pleasantly surprised to find that it was all of these things and more. Diving into Doppelgangster was like getting the best piece of the pie and slowly savoring each bite.
Resnick is in her element with Doppelgangster's dialogue. She's a powerhouse with it. The funny and engaging mobsterisms are rampant, clever, and her character interactions are simply gut busting. In fact the two most important aspects of Resnick's tale are the originality of her idea and the brilliant character interactions. Esther, paired with Lucky, Max, and Nelli at the behest of the Gambello's shy don makes this one of the funniest books I've read this year. I laughed non-stop throughout this book.
There is a small thread of romance between Esther and her slurpalicious detective Lopez. But so far, the mobster shenanigans ensuing have firmly placed the lovers on opposite camps: Lopez on the side of the law and Esther helping the "family". While this tenuous thread between the two of them was smoking hot, I suspect that we'll be seeing more of sexy Detective Lopez in Resnick's next novel. Especially the barest hint that he might not be what he seems, and could be psychically gifted.
If you want to truly be entertained, (and laugh out loud frequently) and enjoy storytelling at its best, give Doppelgangster a whirl!
A Fiendishly Bookish Review
It appears that DAW recognized the potential and bought the second and third books in the series, released them and is going rescue and reprint "Disappearing Nightly" and finally give it the home it originally deserved. I highly recommend buying Dopplegangster and the new Sympathetic Magic. Hopefully good sales will influence DAW (a Penguin Imprint) to get busy and publish book one.
Evidently, in book one, Esther became friends with Max, a 350+ year old wizard (who looks a youthful 70) and who with her help, defeated a bad wizard and they killed his evil assistant Hieronymus, something that had to be done, but weighs on Esther's mind and something she can never tell her hopefully soon to be, cop boyfriend Connor.
Esther's life never goes to plan and she always ends up a mess, looking like a mess, or trying to get .herself out of one. It is almost a Lucille Ball kind of slapstick. She stumbles from one zany, crazy, silly, hilarious, mix-up to another. She's like a pinball stuck in a game, being bashed around from one side to the other. Esther is just trying to find her way to that acting gig that will break her into the big time, trying to find some romantic time with the guy of her dreams, while being flung from one part of town to another, trying to solve the mystery and stay alive.
What is so fresh and wonderful about the Esther Diamond series is Esther is the ANTITHESIS of what has become the norm in Urban Fantasy. The biggest weapons she carries are her four-inch high heels. She doesn't know how to fight. There is no mystery about her parentage, other than how does her Mother always know to call when there is bad news. She has no magical skills. That's right...none. She isn't going to become some magical Queen; she doesn't go around bossing everyone around because the whole world depends on her. Nobody seems to depend on her, she's just trying to survive on her own, and maybe keep her boyfriend alive from the things he doesn't know about that go bump in the night.
Dopplegangster (again, this is book two) starts with Stella losing her acting gig. The play she was in, "Sorcerer" is canceled. Being a struggling actress in New York is no joke. She is damn glad to be rehired at her old waitressing job, even if it is as a singing server at Bella Stella's, a known and notorious Mob Hangout.
Unfortunately, her on again off again cop boyfriend Joe Morelli...oops, I mean Connor Lopez, a gorgeous hunk of Cuban and Scotch Irish parentage, doesn't agree and thinks it is a dangerous place for her to work. He might have a point given the fact that there have been two mob hits there in the last five years and the owner Stella launders money for the Mob.
To make matters worse, Lopez has just been promoted to the OCCB task force (organized Crime Control Bureau,) and his job is to crack down on organized crime. Chubby Charlie, one of her Mafioso regulars, and Esther both see an exact walking, talking double of Chubby Charlie and then he is shot at his table, from an impossible angle. This doesn't help Lopez's employment prospects as everyone thinks Esther had to have seen the murderer and is covering. She finds herself in the middle of a murder investigation and on the cover of a New York Tabloid publication looking like a mob girlfriend in the middle of a mob war. In a very short period, wise guys begin dropping like flies just after they see their exact double, the cops want Esther brought in for questioning and chaos ensues.
The cops and the mob both think she knows more than she does. The only real people Esther can count on are Max, the Sorcerer with his trusty if slobbery familiar Nelli,, a Wizardly familiar, in the body of a massive hound from another plane of existence, and Lucky, a retired assassin wise guy who knows the truth and surprisingly accepts it quite easily.
The scenes with Lucky are great. He's the kind of guy where if it was his job, and he had to do it, he'd kill you, but otherwise, if he likes you...he's gonna keep an eye out and try to help you out. And he likes Esther. Even though his concern is paternal, it is infuriating to Lopez, who cannot understand why Esther is hanging out with a mobster if she is innocent as she claims.
Connor can only protect her so much, he can tell she's lying, and various factions of the mafia are beginning to think Esther might be better off sleeping with the fishes. Connor also knows Max is hiding something and thinks he is a bad influence on Esther and he is incensed she is hanging out with retired mob enforcer, Lucky.
Esther just wants her agent to return her calls with news of a great acting job, and to have sex with her boyfriend. Given the situations she finds herself in, none of these things seems likely to happen any time soon.
The one-liners are hilarious, the side characters are incredibly nuanced and fleshed out, the heroine is hyper, smart and hilarious, and the hero is beleaguered. The book is much like Esther, an oddball mix. Part urban fantasy, part mystery, part screwball comedy harkening back to Katherine Hepburn and Carey Grant, It is a fun ride from start to finish. I just bought the third book, Sympathetic Magic, and I hope Esther and Lopez sort out their differences and get a HEA or at least get a chance to work off some of that sexual frustration. Given all that they've been through together, they deserve it.
Doppelgangster really grew on me. It's written in the first person, so the first step is getting to know and like Esther. It took me about 100 pages to warm up to this aspiring New York actress, but right about then the book made me laugh out loud, and I was with her the rest of the way. When Mary Jo Putney blurbed Doppelgangster she said, "Esther Diamond is the Stephanie Plum of urban fantasy!" I think that's an accurate description. Esther is not a natural bad-ass, and she doesn't possess any supernatural powers, but she does have a good brain when she's not spazing about her career.
If I liked Esther, then I positively loved all the men in her life. Max, the 350-year-old wizard is charming in an innocent, child-like way. Lucky, the semi-retired mafia hitman is a patient tutor on all things in The Family, and gallant as well. Lopez, is the kind of sexy, straight-arrow detective that gives law enforcement a good name, and boy, does he do everything right when it comes to wooing a woman. And of course, I loved Nelli, the sweetheart of a dog who is much more than she seems.
I made one mistake though. I assumed that Doppelgangster was the first book in the Esther Diamond series, but it's the second. The prologue recaps the main events from the first installment, but I still hate jumping in out of order.
Unfortunately the first book, Disappearing Nightly, was published several years ago and it's out of print. According to Ms. Resnick's website, book one will be reissued with a new cover, however the release date is TBA. The third novel, Unsympathetic Magic: An Esther Diamond Novel, will be released August 2010.