Author: Laura Resnick
Copyright: 2010 (DAW); 386 pgs.
Series: Esther Diamond #2
Esther Diamond is an actress. When the play she’s in closes due to poor ticket sales, Esther has little choice but to go back to waiting tables at Bella Stella’s until her agent can get her another gig. Waiting tables at Stella’s isn’t too bad. For one, Stella requires her waitstaff to sing when requested by patrons. Stella considers them actors, making it very easy for Esther to ask for time off for auditions. Secondly, the tips are pretty good, especially since Esther has a decent voice.
However, Stella’s is a hangout for the Gambello family and their “friends”. Esther doesn’t have a problem with that, unless the guys gets grabby. Fortunately, she can now claim that she’s seeing a cop. It affords her an odd bit of protection. The last thing a bunch of wiseguys want is to bring themselves to the attention of a cop, especially one that just started working on the organized crime task force. Detective Connor Lopez, the cop in question, isn’t happy about Esther working at Stella’s. He’s worried about her safety. Esther assures him she’ll be fine. The fact that his new job will allow him to keep an eye on her mollifies him somewhat.
Despite Esther’s many assurances that it is perfectly safe, someone kills Chubby Charlie right in front her. The problem? She didn’t actually see it happen (crazy, but trust me, she didn’t). Just prior to his murder, Charlie had been going on about seeing his perfect double, which he said marked him for death. He was highly agitated, so Esther thought he was having a medical problem and tried to convince him to see a doctor. Charlie had been acting odd the day before, as well: he came back to the restaurant after already dining and acted as if it was the first time he’d seen or talked to her that evening, as if he hadn’t been there less than an hour before.
The forensic evidence doesn’t make sense, Lopez’s boss thinks Esther is hiding something, and Lopez is worried that she’s become a target. Charlie’s behavior and the forensic evidence prompts Esther to pay a visit to her friend, Dr. Maxmillian Zadok, the wizard assign to combat Evil in New York. She’s accompanied by Lucky, the semi-retired hitman she befriended, who’s been tasked by Don Gambello to find out who put the hit on Charlie. It has been relatively peaceful between rival families. If it was the Corvinos, the Gambello’s main rival, then things could become an all out war.
Max suspects that someone created a doppelgänger, a perfect double. Why, how, and who aren’t as easily answered. But at least that would explain Charlie’s strange behavior the day before he died. The question is, which version of the chubby capo was the doppelgänger and when was it created? When Lucky gets word from another member of the family who witnessed similar behavior in a member of the Corvino family, he suspect that someone is trying to start a war between the rivals.
Now Esther must help prevent a mob war, find the person behind the doppelgängers, and get an audition for popular cop show all while trying to spend some romantic time with Lopez, who thinks Max is crazy, doesn’t believe in magic, and wants her in protective custody out of fear for her life.
Comments: I read the first book back in May 2007 and enjoyed it so much, I was looking forward to the follow-up. Unfortunately, the author’s contract was canceled before the second book was published. She finally sold it to the current publisher and Doppelgangster was released in 2010. The first book will be re-issued, but it is not necessary to read it to enjoy this book. The prologue explains what happened and how Esther met Lopez and Max.
I’ve forgotten how much I liked Esther. She is funny and I think she’s a very confident person. She’s also tough. When they finally catch the guy creating the doppelgangers, Esther really lets him have it.
Max was his delightfully eccentric self. His attempts to sound like a wiseguy were quite funny. Max acquires a familiar in this book and it doesn’t go exactly as planned.
I really liked Lucky. He’s open-minded about the magic because of his Sicilian grandmother, so having him on their side made it easier for Max and Esther to prevent the families from going to war. He’s smart, too, and I can see why Don Gambello would rely on him.
As stated above, Lopez doesn’t believe in magic, which creates a rift between him and Esther. He cares about her a great deal and doesn’t have a problem with her being an actress. He’s also pretty cool about canceled and interrupted plans. Esther even tells him that’s one of the things she likes about him. Lopez is a good guy and a good cop, so the things he does to protect Esther from being hauled off to jail weighs heavily on his conscience. Until he can accept what Esther and Max tells him, their relationship is doomed. Changing his perception might be possible, but it will take some time: Lopez does something that causes Max to believe he has some unrealized power.
I will be continuing with this series.
(Cross-posted from Goodreads.com, with some changes)
Start: 13 March 2012
Finished: 18 March 2012