Esther Diamond is between acting jobs. To make ends meet, she takes a job waiting tables at Bella Stella. Connor Lopez, the cop who may or may not be Esther’s boyfriend, is concerned because Bella Stella is frequented by the Gambello crime family, but hey, a girl’s gotta make a living!
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!
Esther Diamond — (2005-2014) Publisher: I’m not a heroine — I just play one. Along with psychotics, vamps, housewives and hookers. As my agent is fond of pointing out, there are more actors in New York than there are people in most other cities. Translation: beggars can’t be choosers. This explains how I wound up prancing around stage half naked the night Golly Gee — the female lead in the off-Broadway show “Sorceror!” — disappeared into thin air. Literally. Now other performers are also vanishing, and a mysterious stranger is warning me: There is evil among us. But the producers want me to take over Golly’s part. Looks as if I’m going to need a little magical help if I want to keep my starring role….