"Doppelgangster" by Laura Resnick

Pros: Phenomenal sense of humor; the book is also unafraid to poke fun at elements of urban fantasy.
Cons: It was fairly easy to figure out some of the more mysterious plot elements.
Rating: 4 out of 5

Review book courtesy of Penguin Group

 

Esther Diamond’s life isn’t going the way that she hoped it would. She’s just lost her acting job, and her cop boyfriend suspects she had a lot more to do with the death of an evil sorcerer’s apprentice than she’s telling him about. In her defense, he wouldn’t believe her if she did tell him. To top everything off, Esther witnesses a mob hit on her customer at the restaurant she’s working at to pay the bills and the police think that she knows more than she’s telling there too. She does, but telling them about doppelgangers, magical doubles of victims that signify their imminent death, is not exactly the witness testimony that the police are looking for. Getting herself embroiled with a mobster, a sorcerer, and a familiar so that they can stop what is quickly becoming a series of magical murders may not be helping her love life, but it’s a lot better than being next on the hit list…


 

Laura Resnick’s Doppelgangster is one of those fast-paced books that keeps you chuckling as you read. Anyone in the same room as me was subjected to a barrage of amusing quotes, since the combination of mobster and sorcerer that misunderstand each other is too funny not to share. For those who are fans of the wonderful Terry Pratchett, this book has some of the same elements of his humor. Ms. Resnick isn’t afraid to poke loving fun at elements of urban fantasy, while still managing to keep the suspense going at a decent pace. It makes for a fun and vastly amusing read.

I have to say, however, that those who insist on their mysteries being unsolvable to the end may not enjoy the book quite as much. I’m not usually an active solver when it comes to elements of mystery, but I was able to figure out about a third of the way through the book how the doppelgangsters worked. It definitely took away some of the suspense for me, but because I still had no idea who the villain was I still wanted to keep reading.

Ms. Resnick has a knack for creating solid characters and then simply letting them play off of each other to allow both action and hilarity to ensue. Mobsters and sorcerers and actresses, oh my! Each brought their own strengths to the book, but they had to learn what was relevant and then how to work together in order to make progress. For me, though, it was aggravating to see Esther working together with Lucky the mobster and Max the sorcerer while at the same time going to such great lengths to keep her cop boyfriend Lopez in the dark. I understand why she felt she couldn’t tell him, but to watch the guilt whenever an opportunity to explain came up was aggravating. I was just glad to see that there wasn’t a big chunk of word count devoted to justifying her actions every time it came up; that would have been much much worse.

I really loved watching the plot unfold; the villain’s goals are unlike any other that I’ve read about before. It kept me constantly guessing, and when all was revealed I was able to look back at the story and see how that changed my perception of events that occurred previously. The hows and whys of the murders are skillfully crafted, and there are plenty of ways to turn the information at hand into a theory that isn’t the truth.

“Doppelgangster” is the first novel of at least three Esther Diamond books, and with such a wonderful beginning to the series I can’t wait for August when the next book, “Unsympathetic Magic” comes out. Despite figuring elements out early and getting frustrated with Esther at times, I loved the witty humor and gentle satire. The fast-paced, unique plot certainly didn’t hurt either! For those who are looking for the lighter side of urban fantasy, “Doppelgangster” is definitely recommended.

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