Doppelgangster (An Esther Diamond novel) by Laura Resnick

Written by OBS Staff Member Verushka

If I had to describe this book in one word, it would be ‘fun’.

Esther Diamond is a struggling actress in New York, who just happens to be friends with a 350-year old mage, Max. She has no powers; she is simply drawn along in Max’s wake from book 1 into the world of the supernatural in New York. That is what makes this book so unique for me – it’s the first I’ve read where the main character is in fact just like the book’s audience, pretty normal (save for a sharp tongue and New York instincts that stand her in good stead through the book).

It helps that the writing is sharp and funny, with laugh-out-loud one liners that bring Esther to life in technicolor. I don’t actually think I’ve ever giggled and enjoyed an urban fantasy like I did with this book in, ever come to think of it.  Esther is engaging, funny, opinionated and of course, has troubles in the romance department, continuing on from book 1 (other than Esther’s introduction to Max in book 1 of this series, I don’t think you need to start this series in order to understand the story in this book).

Her romantic troubles come in the form of Connor Lopez, a good cop, albeit frustrated with the company Esther keeps in Max, is, for most of the book, used merely as a love interest for Esther, while providing some clues in the investigation Esther seems to be
involved in. He adores Esther, but she recognizes, as do the readers, that Connor is a straight-arrow good guy, and being involved with Esther means compromises she does not want him to make. From a fairly straightforward introduction in this book, Connor grows into much more, though never quite stepping out of the love-interest category until the very end (which makes me eager to get my hands on the next book to see where a very unexpected twist with Lopez takes them).

I am really not sure what I expected with a name like “Doppelgangster”, but I know I didn’t expect the book to be so funny. When the book opens, Esther is in-between acting jobs, so she approaches Stella, the owner of a restaurant that just happens to be frequented by New York’s finest gangsters. There, Esther meets the first of the doppelgangsters, doubles created by someone out for revenge and attempting to set the mafia families against one another. She joins forces with Lucky, an aging gangster himself (but no less lethal) for one of the mafia families and together with Max they attempt to solve the case, while trying to protect Lopez, who gets his own double along the way (a doppelgangster usually precedes someone’s death in this book).

While all the characters are incredible fun, Lucky stands out to me. He is the one that is introduced to the supernatural here, and his learning curve is hilarious. His dialogue is fabulously smart and fast and his lessons to Max in how to speak like a gangster left me sniggering in the middle of my train home. I can only hope he continues to be a presence in Esther’s life and future books.

If you want a good read, with sharp humour, this is the book for you.