DAW, $7.99, ISBN 978-0-7564-0978-4
Abracadaver is the seventh book in Laura Resnick’s Esther Diamond series, so it’s not surprising that this one is not much of a standalone novel. This is not a newbie-friendly book at all, as it picks up shortly after The Misfortune Cookie, and the reader is immediately thrown into the aftermath of the grand confrontation in the previous book. The plot of this story is a pretty self contained one, mind you, so this review is free from spoilers (I hope). This book is a poor standalone read because the plot comes with a bag full of recurring characters and repetitive meta-references.
Anyway, Esther and her Detective Connor Lopez are back on again, or maybe it’s off. At any rate, these two have ventured far into the hell that houses the Stephanie Plum love triangle nonsense, and I can’t be bothered, so don’t ask me whether they have finally come back together. I’ll just tell you that they both die in a splatter of gore when a sack of hippos fall onto them, and you’ll have to live with that because I don’t care anymore. So, Esther can’t catch a break because not so long after her brush with fortune cookies from hell, now her friend John’s family-owned funeral house has another problem: a corpse seems to come alive for a short while, enough to give John’s father a scare to remember. Esther believes that this turn of event can mean that Connor is in danger – just take a turn here, a few turns there, loop back, and kick yourself in the head, and you may come to the same conclusion too. By the middle of this story, Esther sics the main star of the TV show she is on on Connor “for protection”. I’ve summed up half of this book in just one paragraph when the back cover synopsis needs two. Dang, I’m good.
Yes, the back cover synopsis describes the story up to a little past the midway point – that’s how thin the plot in Abracadaver is. The main characters spend most of their time just talking. They talk about many things, and when they do move, it’s to give everyone a change of scenery while they talk some more. It’s like not they are talking up a storm about something entertaining. Most of the time, Esther is repeating the same details over and over, and the other characters waste pages going off rambling instead of getting straight to the point. The author doesn’t have the pitched sense of humor to pull this off, so the twittering magpies in this story just go blah blah blah all the time. This book is way too easy to put down.
It’s a shame. The series has potential, but I’m not sure what happened. Max is practically a secondary character now, acting like Esther’s straight-laced Sancho Panza, and all that talk of fighting Evil seems to have been cast aside for all these interminable tales of people just talking all the time. The love thing is a joke now – they break up, make up, break up, make up, oh, like they can just die already if they are not going to even pretend to be interesting. The story finally gets moving in its last few chapters when the author remembers that she needs to put on a show at least once before the curtain falls, but the grand reveal is as an anticlimax. Or maybe I’m so numbed by the boredom that I can’t appreciate how awesome that part could have been. Oh well.
I like the idea of this series. I like the notion of having a frothy and light urban fantasy series that I can read to break the monotony of the angst of all those darling overpowered sweethearts saving the world while feeling torn between two hot guys. But as of now, the author doesn’t seem to be trying anymore, and this book is more of a sleeping pill than a chill pill. And it’s so close to Christmas, too. I think the author is trying to break my heart.