Doppelgangster by Laura Resnick
My rating: 5 of 5 stars
Esther Diamond is a struggling actress in New York City ... and sometimes the only job you have to help you through is that of a singing waitress at the friendly neighborhood mob hangout. This leads her headlong into murder, mayhem and the tabloids as a doppelganger curse dogs (... and speaking of dogs ...) the gangsters. If this isn't complicated enough, she has to avoid the suspicion of her hunky cop would-be boyfriend long enough ... to actually *become* his girlfriend.
Fast paced, witty, clever and consistently good at racketing up the insanity - all without ever sacrificing believability or heart - this book is a joy to read. Resnick has a unique grasp on the comic aspects of mobsters - no one writes them quite like she does, and watching scholastic sorcerer Max try to grasp the language is just one of the many hilarious sequences in the book. And the dog - excuse me, familiar - is a charming character in her own right.
This book pokes fun at some tropes of urban fantasy and inverts others, and does it with affection. As far as other cliches, one of my personal pet peeves is when a main character has to hide something from her significant other, sometimes with "comic" mishaps preventing her from doing so, until he finds out anyway, and thus much angst and aggravation ensues. Resnick handles the inevitable problems with Lopez in what I found to be a satisfying way, sidestepping my usual irritation with the entire trope.
If I have one quibble, it's that the mystery is a bit weak: I figured it out by process of "what has the writer included?" elimination rather than clues-in-story deduction (and by one suspect being a trifle too obvious). But the story is so much about the characters puzzling it out that it really doesn't matter.
This is one of the few books that has made me guffaw aloud - repeatedly - and yet it is rife with moments of excitement, danger, drama and a little heat. Highly recommended.
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