is the second book in Laura Resnick's Esther Diamond
series and I have to say it's much better than the first. I really enjoyed it. I would have picked it up at the bookstore based on the title of the book itself. So clever I'm surprised someone hasn't used it before. In any case . . .
Esther Diamond is an struggling actress in NYC who has just lost her current job. She's forced to waitress at a restaurant frequented by numerous mob gangsters, but she feels relatively safe since her current boyfriend is Connor, a cop who's just been promoted to the police's mob squad. But then she serves Charlie dinner one night. As she leaves for work, Charlie comes back to the restaurant for dinner and acts as if he hadn't already been there earlier. And then the next day, he comes in panicked and is shot right before Esther's eyes. Suddenly gangsters are seeing double and getting killed in impossible situations and it's up to Esther and her cohorts--the resident magician and fighter of Evil, and another gangster Lucky--to figure out what's going on, all while trying to date and dodge Connor as he investigates the same crimes.
As I said, I really enjoyed this book. The first book was OK, but didn't inspire me to grab the second immediately after finishing it. The idea in that first book was fun, but I thought there was a significant lull in action in the middle and a lot of flailing around to no purpose. Only the uniqueness and fun of the characters kept me reading.
That doesn't happen here at all. This second book rockets along with no lulls and lots of creative fun and interplay with the main concept of doppelgangsterism. And that's the best descriptor of the book (and series): FUN. Esther Diamond is a fun character to follow. While smart, she stays in character and never comes off as anything other than an actress who's caught up in weird situations and attempts to figure them out. She's believable, and all of her sidekicks and love interests are believable as well. Connor brings in a nice romantic element, but the book isn't a romance in any way, it's just an added element to the story and Esther's life. (As some of you know, I'm not a fan of the heavy romance elements being inserted into my fantasy or science fiction, although having real relationships is fine with me. This is much more of a relationship. Well, a struggling relationship.) I admit that I figured out who was behind it all fairly early on (there was one element that "gave it away" for me) but honestly you aren't reading this for the reveal in the end. You're reading it because the characters are fun to follow.
So, I loved this book and am sorry that I didn't get to it earlier. I'm definitely moving up the sequels higher on my "to be read" list. In fact, I already took the third book, Unsympathetic magic
, off the shelf and onto my bedside stand pile. I'd suggest all of you do the same. You can start with the first book, just be aware that there is that lull in the middle. But in this series, you don't have to start at the beginning. I see no reason why you can't pick up Doppelgangster
and start reading right now. Joshua Palmatier