Friday, August 10, 2012

Disappearing Nightly by Laura Resnick

Before reviewing Laura Resnick’s Disappearing Nightly I need to give a quick explanation as to why despite having enjoyed the previous Esther Diamond adventures I’m only reading the first one now in 2012, rather then in 2006 when it was originally published.

Disappearing Nightly first came out in 2005, and was published by Luna. For various reasons Luna and Esther never really clicked, and she didn’t find another home until DAW picked up the series a few years later. The series has gone from strength to strength under DAW, beginning with Doppelgangster, continuing with Unsympathetic Magic and last years Vamparazzi (I believe the 5th book; Polterheist, is due out later this year). However Laura Resnick didn’t get the publishing rights back to Disappearing Nightly until fairly recently, then DAW had to repackage it to fit with the rest of the series, and so it didn’t find it’s way to me until a couple of weeks ago.

I’d always been eager to read Disappearing Nightly, as although Esther quickly recapped the events from the book in Doppelgangster, this was where the actress met her friend, the 350 year old European magician Max Zadok, and her on again, off again love interest; Connor Lopez. Both Max and Connor are pretty major parts of Esther life and her adventures so seeing how they first came onto the scene is important for any fan of the books.

Esther was happily working as a wood nymph, understudying the lead actress, in an off Broadway (way off) production called Sorcerer! when the lead actress, a former teenie pop star with the ridiculous stage name of Golly Gee (Lopez refers to her as Gosh Darn at one point, and I didn’t buy his explanation that he was only joking), quite literally disappears. Because Esther is her understudy, and therefore gains from the disappearance she’s considered a suspect, and then she starts receiving warning notes, cryptically signed MZ.

Other people start disappearing, and before Esther can say abracadabra, she finds herself teamed up with Max, a team of highly enthusiastic drag queens, a conjuring cowboy and his perky daughter and a young banker who has been rail roaded into the financial industry by his family, when all he really wants to do is perform magic. They all think they’re helping. Lopez is of the opinion that what they’re doing is hindering his investigation and if he could find grounds he’d arrest the lot of them, except maybe Esther, who he wants to date.   

Because I’d already read the later books in the series I already knew who was behind the disappearances and roughly why, so the mystery of trying to work out whodunit wasn’t there in this one. It didn’t however detract from my enjoyment of the book. The fun of the Esther Diamonds is with Esther herself and the somewhat combative relationship she enjoys with Lopez. He was better drawn in this than I feel he has been in some of the later books, in this one he wasn’t afraid to make gentle fun of Esther and being openly disbelieving of her, not something he still does. Considering that some of the seemingly less likely things she suggests actually come to pass, this may be why he isn’t as skeptical of her now.

The books have a knack of introducing one off characters that intrigue me, this time it was Max’s boss, the Anglo Indian Lysander Singh from that well known hotbed of evil; Altoona, PA. He kept reminding me of the officious Nigel from The Watchers Council in Buffy the Vampire Slayer (Season 5, Episode 12, Checkpoint. Oh yes, I know my Buffy the Vampire Slayer). It was highly amusing to watch Max and Esther simply ignore most of what he said and blunder on regardless. Like Lucky Battistuzzi (Doppelgangster) it’s unlikely he’ll appear again, but he is there waiting in the wings if the author decides he’s required.

The Esther Diamonds are a little hard to classify, they’re definitely urban fantasy and the Lopez/Esther relationship kind of strays into romance territory, although there’s not a lot of it. The author herself refers to them as comedic urban fantasy, so I’ll go with that, I kind of like it as sub genre classification actually.

I think I’ve said this with nearly every review I’ve done of the books, but no one seems to be paying attention to me, so I’ll close by saying it again. These books are simply screaming to be made into a TV show. Someone please make this happen!      

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