Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Vamparazzi



Vamparazzi is the 4th Esther Diamond book by Laura Resnick.

Vamparazzi finds the actress starring in an off Broadway play based on John Polidori’s seminal piece of vampire fiction The Vampyre. The main reason for the show’s existence is it’s star Daemon Ravel, who claims to be an actual vampire. His crazed fans also surround the theatre before and after performances, and have been dubbed by Esther and her co-star; the improbably named Leishneudel Drsydale, as vamparazzi, hence the book’s title.

It’s not a great play and working on it has drawbacks, the aforementioned vamparazzi, Ravel himself, not to mention the sleazy tabloid journalist who is writing about him; Al Tarr, and then there is the other actress in the show; the foul mouthed, hot tempered ingĂ©nue; Mad Rachel. However it is 8 weeks of paid work and Esther has taken a liking to Leischneudel, to the extent of seeing if her agent; Thackeray Shackleton, will sign him as a client.

After a particularly trying performance Esther finds her on again, off again boyfriend, NYPD detective Conor Lopez in her dressing room. Lopez is messy and unshaven and very cagey about who he really is. Esther soon finds out that he’s working undercover, and has come to see her out of worry. One of the vamparazzi was found exsanguinated, and due to a run in with the woman outside the theatre Esther is a suspect. No one actually thinks she did it, the main suspect is Ravel. The man says he’s a vampire, he keeps bottles of what look suspiciously like human blood in his dressing room refrigerator, and he actually bit Esther one night during a performance.

To be fair to Esther she didn’t try to get involved in this one, but circumstances drew her into it. Once she informed her friend the 350 year old European magician Maximilan Zadok about what was happening, it was a foregone conclusion that Esther would be right in the middle of things. One of the occupations on Max’s extensive CV is vampire hunter, it also explains why he’s so wary about Lithuanians.

Part of the fun of any book like this is working out ‘whodunnit’ (something I suck at), and it was really hard in Vamparazzi, because it seemed at times as if Esther was the only cast member who wasn’t a vampire. The book also exploded a few myths about vampires. According to Max there are three types and only one of them is truly blood thirsty.

One thing that hurt the previous book; Unsympathetic Magic, was Laura Resnick’s tendency towards extensive exposition. That’s still present, but she’s toned it down considerably and it doesn’t affect the flow of the narrative the way it did in Unsympathetic Magic. For readers looking for more romance between Lopez and Esther, they’d come away disappointed, there are moments, but romance is largely absent. That leads me to my next point.

The Esther Diamond’s are rather hard to classify. The first of the books Disappearing Nightly (I haven’t read this yet, still waiting for DAW to reissue it), was published by a romance publisher (Luna, who were part of Harlequin), and they decided not to pick it up as a series, from what I’ve heard, it didn’t really seem to fit with their line. On the face of it, they look like straight Paranormal Romance, but they’re decidedly light on the romance, so fit more into the Urban Fantasy category, the two do, at times, tend to be interchangeable. The best way I can describe what the Esther Diamond’s is this: if Janet Evanovich’s bounty hunter Stephanie Plum, were a few years younger and working as an actress in New York and wound up investigating things of a supernatural bent, then she’d be Esther Diamond.

One of my criticisms of the two earlier books (Doppelgangster and Unsympathetic Magic) was that Conor Lopez was too good to be true. He becomes a little more believable and acts more realistically in Vamparazzi, although he’s not in it as much as he was in the earlier novels. There was also no wiseguy action, so we didn’t get to see Lucky Batistuzzi from Doppelgangster return (seriously, he rocked), although I did like Leischneudel, and being in the acting game there’s a fair chance readers could see him again. They’re light, easy to read fun.

The next Esther adventure: Polterheist (I do love the titles) is due out next year, and hopefully by then DAW will have brought out Disappearing Nightly and I’ll know the full Esther Diamond story.

4 comments:

  1. Vamparazzi is such a great title!

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  2. All the titles for the Esther's are just so cute.

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  3. Hi!

    Just stopped by to thank you for reviewing the book--always great for a writer when someone calls attention to the work, and I hope some new readers find the series as a result of your blog review!

    To clarify, the Esther Diamond series is comedic urban fantasy. Its first publisher, Luna was (and still is) a fantasy imprint, not a romance program; Luna is owned by Harlequin, which is why it's often mistaken for being a romance or paranormal romance program. But I and the other writers in it (including Mercedes Lackey, Judith Tarr, Michelle Sagara West, and Laura Anne Gilman) were acquired to write fantasy novels/series and were marketed as such (though I have not kept abreast of any changes which may have occurred in Luna's focus since my departure).

    Although there was mutual goodwill, Esther Diamond didn't work out at Luna (a key problem was that they had no idea how to package this series, so the first book sank like a stone), so we wound up parting company after one book.

    I moved to DAW Books, which is a MUCH better fit for me and for this series--and where I hope Esther Diamond will have a long and fruitful life.

    Laura Resnick
    http://lauraresnick.com/

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  4. Thanks for the comment, Laura, and for clearing up the issues about exactly where the Esther Diamonds fit in terms of classification and about Luna and Esther's short life there. I love the books and look forward to Polterheist.

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