Doppelgangster by Laura Resnick
My rating: 4 of 5 stars
This is the second book in the Esther Diamond series. It's an improvement over the last book, though there are some indications the series might fall into some tropes I dislike.
In the previous book, Esther, a struggling stage actress, found out that magic exists, and stopped a sorcerer who wanted to sacrifice leading ladies to a powerful demon. In this book, her familiarity with magic serves her well, as it's the only explanation for the bizarre deaths taking place at her day job at an Italian restaurant. People with mod connections are seeing perfect doubles of themselves, and then dying within hours. A hit man asks Esther for help finding the killer. Meanwhile, Detective Lopez has been moved to the department that investigates the Mafia, and he'd very much like for Esther to stay out of it before his conflict of interest gets them both in trouble.
The title probably would've been funnier if it hadn't been adopted as the name for what's killing mobsters, and repeated throughout the text. Still, it's apt, and eye-catching enough to make someone want to pick this up, if it's the sort of thing they'd like.
This book never pretends to be anything it isn't. It's silly, fluffy urban fantasy, and Esther well knows how ridiculous it sounds. In case she forgets, other characters are more than willing to laugh or disbelieve. That made me feel this book is more grounded in reality than most urban fantasy, despite its humor trappings.
There were times, though, when it seemed the humor might rely on the absurdity a little too much. I worried future books might start to string together wacky hijinks, for lack of any better ideas. It gave me flashbacks to the Stephanie Plum series, which I've give up on.
For now, though, I do plan to read the next book. We'll see if it lays the above fears to rest, and continues to give me the fun melding of murder mystery and magic that I enjoy in these books. I also hope we see more Detective Lopez. Not because I particularly like him, but I like how Esther plays off him.
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