Doppelgangster has been a long time coming. Luna published the first book in the series, Disappearing Nightly, which I enjoyed. Shortly thereafter, Luna completely shook up their fantasy line and the series was left without a publisher. Finally, after a three-year wait, DAW picked up the series and Doppelgangster was published at last. It was a most enjoyable weekend of reading.
For readers who missed Disappearing Nightly, don’t worry since that book gets summarized in the prologue. As the main action commences, actress Esther Diamond learns that her show has closed. In order to make ends meet while she tries to score auditions, she goes back to her work as a singing waitress at Bella Stella. She likes the owner and the patrons treat her well, even if some of them are wiseguys in the Gambello crime family.
The fun begins in earnest when Esther serves one of the regulars and then sees him again later that night. He comes into the restaurant, acts as if they had never spoken earlier, and then gets shot over dinner. The crime has all manner of suspicious aspects to it and Esther finds herself in a very strange situation, indeed. And that’s about all one can say without starting to give away some of the many twists and turns of the plot. Esther eventually comes to the realization that the victim must have had a double and soon other doubles start showing up around the city – hence the book’s title.
Much of the plot focuses on Esther trying to figure out how this doppelganger phenomenon works and who is behind it. We also get to see Esther and her love interest, New York cop and skeptic Detective Lopez, trying to start their relationship. While there are some cute scenes between Esther and Lopez, the focus of the book definitely rests on the fantasy/suspense plot. The romance subplot did feel a bit thin, but given the amount of action in the story, one can understand why the author may have felt the need to allot more pages to that part of the plotting instead.
For those who like their urban fantasy gritty, this probably isn’t your book. Though action-packed, the tone of this book has a light, almost chick-litty feel. At times Esther and friends come off rather campy, but if you read this book expecting slapstick humor, it’s really a fun read. The author has good comic timing for most of the story. Given the Mafia backdrop, at times things felt a little too light and happy (murderous crime sprees just don’t generally give me the giggles), but, overall, I enjoyed reading this one. The plot twists are goofy in the extreme and often don’t feel realistic, but then again, if I was looking for realism, I don’t think I would have picked up a book about a singing waitress and her mafia buddies who try to stop the creation of doppelgangers.
If you’re in the mood for a lighter urban fantasy read, Doppelgangster is a fun book to consider. There are a few running jokes that get used a little too often and Esther isn’t the brightest heroine on earth, but the characters are likable and the book was a fun read. There are at least two more books planned in this series, and I intend to keep following it.