Doppelgangster: A great mix of urban fantasy, humor, mystery, chicklit

fantasy book reviews science fiction book reviewsfantasy book review Manhattan Magic Laura Resnick Disappearing Nightly 2. DoppelgangsterDoppelgangster by Laura Resnick

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!

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KELLY LASITER, with us since July 2008, is a mild-mannered academic administrative assistant by day, but at night she rules over a private empire of tottering bookshelves. Kelly is most fond of fantasy set in a historical setting (a la Jo Graham) or in a setting that echoes a real historical period (a la George RR Martin and Jacqueline Carey). She also enjoys urban fantasy and its close cousin, paranormal romance, though she believes these subgenres’ recent burst in popularity has resulted in an excess of dreck. She is a sucker for pretty prose (she majored in English, after all) and mythological themes.

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