Sunday, November 14, 2010

BOOKS: Unsympathetic Magic by Laura Resnick

There are a series of books by Mike Resnick that I've been searching for, forever. But I can't find the Starship books in paperback. I suspect they might only exist in hardcover and audio formats at this point. But I'm always on the lookout for Resnick's works. Which is how I stumbled upon Laura Resnick. She's Mike's daughter.

The book I happened upon was Unsympathetic Magic, which is, as it turns out, the third book in the Esther Diamond series. Now, I'm loathe to read a book in a series if I haven't ready the earlier volumes, but I needed a quick read and there was the book at the top of the reading pile. The actual book pile, not the eBook pile. I was headed for a long soak and something not so .... electric.... was required.

Lucky for me.

Esther is an actress who's finally snagged a guest-star of the week role on a cop show that sounds sort of like NYPD Blue by way of Dexter and The Shield. She play's a hooker. In real life, she's struggling a bit at her chosen profession and she's doing a bit of waitressing on the side. She's also trying to avoid anything occultish. She's had a couple of run-ins in the past and it's put a serious crimp into her not-so-budding romance with non-believing Detective Connor Lopez.

Esther gets an A for effort in trying to avoid the occult and an F for results, given that she falls into the middle of a giant Voodou scene in this book. First, the TV shoot is shut down by a combination of a heart attack to the odious leading man and a blackout. Then Esther sees a zombie being attacked by two trollish gargoyles and then she gets arrested for ... well it's hard to figure whether it was soliciting or assault. She WAS running around, looking like a hooker, with no I.D., trying to get anyone to call in the 'attack.' Police-wise, it was an easy pick-em.

Which brings Connor back on the scene as Esther's call. Connor goes right into Scully mode as Esther's memories seem faulty. No body, no blood. But the right name for a weeks-old death. Which eventually means finding that a body, several actually, are missing. And might be walking around. Plus, Esther ends up guest-teaching at the local Adult Experience classes hosted at the Livingston Foundation. Which might, or might not, be the local New York chapter of Voudou Rites 'R Us.

Things do get all voodooey with priestesses, snakes, bewitched boys and evil connivers, befitting the various gods of Voodou. A crackling stormy night and magic make for a pretty decent finale. At which, the good girl prevails.

This IS a series, afterall.

I like the characters, which also include magical Max, the long-lived book store owner and his dog. I like the sly story-telling without resorting to outright yuks. And I think I can be happy with Laura Resnick's paperback output.

At least until dad's Starship lands here.

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