Disappearing Nightly ~ Laura Resnick

  • Title: Disappearing Nightly
  • Author: Laura Resnick
  • Series: Esther Diamond #1
  • Genre: Urban Fantasy, Mystery
  • Format: Paperback
  • Source: Library
  • Reviewed by: Olga
  • Rating: 4 out of 5

Description:

Also psychotics, vamps, orphans, hookers, housewives and — on one memorable occasion — a singing rutabaga. It was never my ambition to utilize my extensive dramatic training by playing a musical vegetable. However, as my agent is fond of pointing out, there are more actors in New York than there are people in most other cities. Translation: Beggars can’t be choosers.

This explains how I wound up painting my body green and prancing around stage half-naked the night Golly Gee, the female lead in the off-broadway show “Sorcerer!” disappeared into thin air. Literally.

Now other performers are also vanishing, and a mysterious stranger is warning me: There is evil among us. But the producers want me to take over Golly’s part.

Looks like I’m going to need a little magical help if I want to keep my starring role.

Review:  This was my first Laura Resnick but it won’t be my last. I was wavering about this novel’s rating. Some chapters, I wanted to give it 5 stars. Others, my estimation slid to 3 stars. Average: 4 stars.

Mishaps of the disappearing acts plague the magicians of New York. Their assistants disappear. Seriously. Every time a magician performs a disappearing trick on stage, his assistant vanishes, never to be seen again. The magicians of the city are beginning to panic.

The protagonist Esther is a no-nonsense young woman and a struggling actress, working for a magician’s show as one of the glittering, half-dressed nymphs of the chorus. She is an understudy to the star of the show, a B-list singer Golly, so when Golly goes missing during a disappearing act, Esther is ready to step up and finally grab her chance for a leading role. Unfortunately, she starts getting warning messages from an unknown source: “Don’t enter the disappearing box. You’re in danger. Evil is afoot.”

Esther doesn’t believe in Evil; she is an actress after all, but she believes in reality. Golly’s disappearance bothers her. When she learns that more than one magician’s assistant has disappeared in the city in the last few days, she decides to heed the messages and investigate. For that, she teams up with Max, a 300+ years old New York resident magician: after he convinces her of his identity and of the fact that magic exists. Other assorted magicians, real and theatrical, help Esther and Max in their efforts to find the villain who is causing the disappearances. 

Max is a highly picturesque character, the linchpin of this story. He adds flavor to every scene, and most of his dialogues are so hilarious, I sometimes couldn’t see the pages behind my tears of laughter. When Max was young, still a sorcerer’s apprentice in the 17th century, his master fed him the Elixir of Life by accident, as a substitute for a fever medicine, so now Max ages very slowly, and all his considerable magical experience is dedicated to fighting the minions of Evil in New York. Max is also extremely truthful. Imagine a conversation, when a NYPD officer questions Max about the assistants’ disappearances.

The story hovers between mystery and urban fantasy, with enough absurdities (like a spell that works only on Lithuanians) to fill an entire magical prop shop. With reluctant Esther at the helm, the group investigating the disappearances includes, besides Max, a bunch of exotic drag queens, a millionaire condom manufacturer/amateur magician, and a son of a Wall Street financial mogul, also an amateur magician who is striving to make it professionally. Together, they enact a magic-imbued PI procedural worthy of the most ridiculous of CSI episodes.

The novel was a delicious reading fare, punctuated by my giggles and occasional whooping. The only problem I had with this book concerned its pace. While the first half of the novel, where Esther acquires her investigating crew, gallops with the speed of a racing horse, the second part, the investigation itself, is much more slow, practically crawling like a snail. The characters do nothing but talk, eat, and write their speculations on a blackboard. Until the very end, when Esther and Max at last spring into action and deliver all the disappearees safely back to their respective magicians.

‘Disappearees’ is a word the author coined for this book, and it seems very apt. This book made my blues disappear. Recommended to anyone who needs a lift in spirit.

The Third Lynx ~ Timothy Zahn

  • Title: The Third Lynx
  • Author: Timothy Zahn
  • Series: Quadrail #2
  • Genre: Sci-Fi, Space Opera
  • Format: eBook
  • Source: Own Copy
  • Reviewed by: Soo
  • Rating: 3 out of 5

Description:  Former government agent Frank Compton foiled a plot to enslave the galaxy in Night Train to Rigel. But the Modhri, an ancient telepathically linked intelligence, has walkers, unwilling hosts that can be anywhere, anything…and anyone. And Compton is the only man who knows how to fight them, as they wage a secret war against the galactic civilizations linked by the Quadrail, the only means of intra-galactic transit.

Accompanied by Bayta, a woman with strange ties to the robot-like Spiders who run the Quadrail, and dogged by special agent Morse who suspects him of murder, Compton races the Modhri from station to station to acquire a set of valuable sculptures from a long-dead civilization. What the Modhri wants with them is anybody’s guess, but if Compton can’t outwit it, the whole galaxy will find out the hard way.

Review:  Frank and Bayta are approached by a well clad stranger for assistance on a private matter. Due to prior plans, Frank declines the offer and puts the encounter out of his mind. Matters become more serious when the stranger is found dead and an ESS Agent declares Frank to be the prime suspect of the murder. Frank and Bayta crisscross galaxies as events snowball into a race against the enemy for answers.

I’m sad to say that book two was not better than book one. I had minor expectations of character growth, plot thickening and a twist or two to keep me on my toes. While I wasn’t exactly bored by the first 100 pages, I did feel like I was reading a rudderless story with an unnecessarily long setup. In the first book of the series, I was thrown into a fast moving plot with likable, mysterious characters. Only the last third of this novel read along those lines and I feel disappointed in not getting a bigger view of Frank and Bayta.

I feel that reading this book is important to the overall series. I’m sure there are several important elements have been plopped into the storyline here.

My favorite part of the novel are the scenes where Frank interacts with other species or classes. It’s cool to get a little insight into the races, cultures and habits by how everyone talks and acts. It gives an added flourish to the story and colors the world more in my mental play.

A note: Frank is a Ladykiller!

True or False? You have to read the story to find out.

The story has lots of clever moments, a few twists that took me a while to catch up on and the over arcing point–well, I was surprised!

Frank is a great detective and I’m glad to have seen Fayr in action.

Perhaps the novel is a stepping stone to the next book. I’ll find out soon how it pieces together.