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REVIEW: Doppelgangster by Laura Resnick

Dear Ms. Resnick,

Cover image for Doppelgangster by Laura ResnickHas it ever been a long wait for the follow up book to “Disappearing Nightly!” Which I’m sure I don’t need to tell you about. When I read, and loved, it in late 2005, I was peeved that it would probably take a year to find out if Esther and Lopez would get together. Little did I know…So I was a happy camper when news of “Doppelgangster” reached me and even happier after I’d finished it and read that there should be at least two more books to look forward to in the series.

Esther Diamond, aspiring actress in New York City, finds a whole new set of Evil People up to no good in the five boroughs. After the show she was in closes, Esther returns to waiting tables at Bella Stella, a restaurant frequented by several members of the Mafia. When she witnesses a mob hit, even though she didn’t actually see anything – and isn’t that the excuse all would be witnesses tell the police? – she and Max Zadok, along with wise guy Lucky Battistuzzi, find themselves frantically racing to eliminate someone who’s clever, connected to magic, and trying to start a mob war in the Big Apple. Oh, and keep Detective Lopez, who’s just been transferred to the Organized Crime Control Bureau, from figuring out what the three of them are really up to.

While the plot, as a whole, is creepy enough to give me the same willies it does to Max, Esther and Lucky, it doesn’t exactly zip along despite the short length of time the action actually encompasses. First our three principles have to get a rough idea of what’s going on, then it all gets rehashed every time someone new has to be told about it and then the basic information must be honed and new insights discovered, usually through improbably circumstances, just when needed. As bored as Esther and Lucky got reading and researching in Max’s antique book collection, I was still more bored reading about them doing it.

There’s a lot of talking and more talking and still more talking that goes on in this book. And the sparkling dialogue that delighted me in the first book makes only sporadic appearances here. Without the A grade I gave to “Disappearing Nightly” and my anticipation for this book, I’m afraid I might have tossed in the towel before getting to the good parts here. The scattered “now why aren’t they clueing into the glaring warning signs” moments didn’t help either. It’s not that I expect this plot to make total sense, things come from seeming nowhere on a routine basis, but I expect the main characters, who’ve spent the whole book fixated on what they think the problem is, to recognize the problem when it shows up right in their faces.

I had also hoped for more romance between Esther and Lopez. They’re certainly willing and give it their best shots but I need more. And then the ending, while it does make sense, isn’t the reward I’d hoped for them for the whole book. However, I will continue to cross my fingers that you have more planned for them. And I’m also willing to overlook a lot of disappointment for Lopez’s last line in Chapter 25. Yes, it’s that line that boosts the total grade to B-.


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Another long time reader who read romance novels in her teens, then took a long break before started back again about 15 years ago. She enjoys historical romance/fiction best, likes contemporaries, action- adventure and mysteries, will read suspense if there's no TSTL characters and is currently reading very few paranormals.


  1. Jane
    Mar 15, 2010 @ 13:55:26

    I was very disappointed in the ending and I felt like all that we readers had gone through in the first two books (not to mention the huge delay in book 1 and 2 which I know the author has no control over) was for naught.

    The fun dialogue that really attracted me to the series in the first place was really lacking, as you pointed out. It was far too madcap, I guess? for me. I wanted to see a progression of the relationship and of Esther’s growing power rather than see her get into mess after mess after mess.

  2. Jayne
    Mar 15, 2010 @ 15:22:02

    @Jane: Maybe things will be back to the level of the first book soon. I hope so because without that line I mentioned, this one would have gotten a C grade from me.

  3. kathybaug
    Mar 15, 2010 @ 18:42:57

    Another series that had a 5-year gap is the Gargoyle series by Vickie Taylor. I liked the first 2 books in that series. I liked Disappearing Nightly by Laura Resnick. When the next book in both series finally came out this year, I sat in B&N’s cafe and started to read the first few chapters of each one. I put the books back without purchasing. During those 5 years, I have discovered many new urban and paranormal series that I now love. The 2 books mentioned above just didn’t grab me enough on first reading to make me purchase them. The 5-year hiatus had a negative effect on me, I’m afraid.

  4. Miki S
    Mar 15, 2010 @ 20:19:01

    I’m hoping my abysmal memory will allow me to enjoy this book more than y’all did. Other than the fact that I remember really enjoying “Disappearing Night”, I couldn’t tell you anything about that book any more.

    Overall, it’s disappointing to hear this book may not have been worth the wait…

  5. Jayne
    Mar 15, 2010 @ 20:40:45

    @kathybaug: I read the first in the Taylor series as well but didn’t realize it also had a gap in publishing. I wonder if my disappointment in “Doppelgangster” is due to a change in the author’s style over the years.

  6. Jayne
    Mar 15, 2010 @ 20:46:34

    @Miki S:

    Overall, it's disappointing to hear this book may not have been worth the wait…

    I think this might sum up why I was so bummed at this book. I loved the first one then breathlessly awaited this one for years and got what I got in it. I don’t think I would have been quite as let down if I’d only waited a year for it.

  7. Kelly L.
    Mar 15, 2010 @ 21:44:46

    I thought Doppelgangster was more polished in terms of the style, and for whatever reason its jokes hit my funnybone harder than those in Disappearing Nightly. But the ending did leave me a little disappointed, romantically speaking, and I hope there is more to come on that front.

  8. kathybaug
    Mar 15, 2010 @ 22:16:54

    @Jayne: Whoops, it was a 4 year hiatus for Vickie Taylor’s series. My bad, but still a long time between books. Carved in Stone was published in June, 2005 and Flesh and Stone was published in Feb, 2006. Change in writing style might be an issue, but in my case, I think I have just forgotten too much about the previous books. I don’t want to go back and re-read them, too many other books in my stash :)

  9. KMont
    Mar 16, 2010 @ 07:50:31

    Wait, there’s a book before this one? I was completely under the impression that this was the start of a new series – my fault I know but I honestly found no references leading up to this one’s that it was book 2. I just didn’t look hard enough I guess. I’m disappointed in this, especially as the first book is out of print. Way to go publishers. Yeah, I know I can get it used, but I’m not interested anymore in having the previous book to this one. Anyone want my copy of Doppelgangster?

  10. Jane
    Mar 16, 2010 @ 08:19:30

    @KMont I think that the first one was published by Luna and then Harlequin cancelled the line or something so Resnick didn’t have a home for the series but yes, there was no distinguishing notes on Doppelgangster to indicate it was the 2nd in the series.

  11. Jane
    Mar 16, 2010 @ 08:21:14

    @Jayne I agree. The wait made the payoff, or lack thereof, worse. I don’t think the wait was the author’s fault. I remember seeing something on her website that she had the sequel done but then Luna got the ax and she didn’t have a home for the book. Having said that, it just wasn’t what I was expecting or looking for. A case of doomed expectations.

  12. kathybaug
    Mar 16, 2010 @ 09:02:57

    Her next book in the series, Unsympathetic Magic, is due out in August, so Resnick has obviously found a publisher who is interested. It’s just too bad about the long time between books. I guess Penguin (or Resnick?) couldn’t get the rights from Luna for the first book.

  13. KMont
    Mar 16, 2010 @ 18:23:26

    Thanks for the info on her publisher. And yeah, totally not the author’s fault. It’s just disappointing. I’d rather start from book one. Maybe some day….

  14. Laura Resnick
    Mar 17, 2010 @ 11:06:21

    I heard my book had been reviewed here and, since I’m told this is a popular site with heavy traffic, I took a look to see if the review might be favorable and thus good for the series.

    Whoops, another brilliant plan foiled! I’m sorry to see the reviewer and so many other participants here didn’t like the book. (And since this book is very representative of how the series will go, not liking this book is a good indicator that you probably won’t like the rest of the series, either.) But, hey, that’s what makes a horse race, all art is subjective, and at least we’ll always have Paris.

    DISAPPEARING NIGHTLY will be reissued by DAW Books (and with a new cover by the brilliant Daniel Dos Santos, who’s recently finished a fabulous cover for the next book in the series, UNSYMPATHETIC MAGIC), but not until sometime in 2011. While this review may well convince you not to read DOPPELGANGSTER (it nearly convinces -me- not to read it!), the fact of DOPPELGANGSTER being the second book should -not- be what convinces you not to read it, since the series structure is episodic, not serialized; it is intended that a reader can be introduced to the series via any volume in its ranks, for years to come . And for people who want the whole enchilada, DN =will= be available before long, in a lovely new edition; just not right now.

    All best wishes and happy reading,

    Laura Resnick

  15. kathybaug
    Mar 17, 2010 @ 14:13:27

    @Laura Resnick

    So, if the Esther Diamond series is episodic and meant for each book to stand alone, does this mean that there will be no advancing of Lopez and Esther’s relationship?

  16. Jayne
    Mar 17, 2010 @ 15:30:25

    @Laura Resnick: Thanks for stopping by and giving the heads up on how the series will go. If there’s advancement in the Esther and Lopez relationship, I’d probably still like to at least try the next one.

    And great news on the reissue of “Disappearing Nightly.” Glad to see it have the chance to make some new fans.

  17. Heather
    Mar 17, 2010 @ 15:54:21

    Um, the Luna line is still alive, Resneck was just dropped from the line. I enjoyed Dopplegangster. Not to the extent of “Disappearing Nightly”, which I’ve reread a couple of times. I’ve always read this series from the first as an urban fantasy. That’s what it felt like to me, therefore I wasn’t wanting or needing a great deal of romance between Ester and Lopez.

    I love the cover of “Disappearing Nightly” so while I’m glad that it will be reissued next year sorry to hear that it will lose its pretty cover. I hate the cover of Dopplegangster.


  18. Laura Resnick
    Mar 17, 2010 @ 16:34:05

    Sure, the relationship advances. An episodic series structure can readily have changing/developing relationships (ex. Elizabeth Peters’ Amelia Peabody books, in which Amelia goes from being a single woman to being a grandmother over the course of the series); it’s just structured so that each volume is comprehensible and enjoyable if/when read out of order.

  19. Laura Resnick
    Mar 17, 2010 @ 16:44:50

    BTW, keep an eye on the website of artist Daniel Dos Santos, who did the wonderful DOPPELGANGSTER cover. He updates his site with his latest work every month or two, so I think he’ll be posting the cover cover for UNSYMPATHETIC MAGIC relatively soon. He did a fantasic job with it, even better than DOPPELGANGSTER. DAW Books and I are very excited about his work on this series.

    He’s at:

  20. Nicole
    Mar 19, 2010 @ 06:26:46

    I cannot believe that you’re reviewing this! I am reading this book as we speak. I got to work yesterday, and there it was, on my desk, ready for me to read (the best part of being a librarian, in my opinion). I recently finished and really liked Ms. Resnick’s “Fallen From Grace,” so I decided to read her newers books as well. I haven’t finished the book yet, so I’ll have to come back for the review, but I just got so excited when I saw the cover on the blog’s main page.

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