Sassy New York actress Esther Diamond finds herself unemployed when the mediocre musical she is in closes without warning. Esther hears about a juicy guest role on a popular television series, but needs income to pay her bills in the meantime, so she reluctantly falls back on her job as a singing waitress at popular mob hangout, Bella Stella. etective Connor Lopez adds to Esther’s frustration. Despite some hot, sexy moments, they cannot seem to move their relationship past the lunch date phase. To increase the tension, Lopez thinks Esther’s friend Max Zadok is a dangerous lunatic. Esther knows Max is actually an ancient sorcerer keeping New York safe from evil, but cannot explain that to Lopez since the hunky detective is a non-believer when it comes to magic.
Lopez is equally upset about Esther’s job at Bella Stella, a sentiment Esther can’t argue with when capo Chubby Charlie is murdered right in front of her. With the help of a semi-retired mob hitman named Lucky, Esther realizes that someone is creating perfect doubles of gangsters from different mob families; soon after each wiseguy meets his “doppelgangster,” he dies. While Lopez tries to solve the mystery using police logic, Esther and Lucky enlist Max’s mystical assistance and it soon becomes clear that someone is using magic in order to start a mob war. As the list of victims grows, so does the danger to Esther and her friends.
The newest in Laura Resnick’s series featuring Esther Diamond, Doppelgangster is unexpectedly light-hearted and funny. Max’s formal diction, magical outlook and old-fashioned sensibilities provide hilarious contrast with Lucky’s blunt approach and Esther’s exotic lifestyle. Conflict and humor arise naturally thanks to the differences between the older men, as well as Lopez and Esther herself, while the sexual chemistry between the couple sizzles more strongly every time they meet. The suspense increases steadily as Esther’s search for clues takes her from various crime scenes to Max’s musty antiquarian bookstore with its cellar laboratory and to a neighborhood church badly in need of renovation. This novel is certain to please anyone who enjoys fantasy blended with suspense, and savors romance with a good dash of wit.
Leslie Moise lives and writes in Louisville, Kentucky.