On New Year’s Day, Chad and I were in Barnes & Noble looking to spend some gift cards. I was browsing the shelves and spotted a new book by Laura Resnick, Disappearing Nightly. Pretty much all I needed to know was this quote on the back from Jennifer Crusie: “A paranormal screwball comedy adventure. Light, happy, fantastically funny!” Well, that and my prior knowledge of Resnick’s work; I used to read her category romances under a different name, and I recalled that she did comedy well (she’s also written some more recent romances and some Big Fat Fantasies, which I haven’t read yet). I read the first couple of pages, bought it, and stayed up too late to finish it.
This is just fun, pure and simple. The first person narrator, Esther Diamond, is a chorus nymph in the off-Broadway musical Sorceror! and the understudy for the lead female role. The musical is built around a magic act, and one night the Disappearing Lady act works far too well. Esther is warned off taking the missing actress’s place by Max, a member of the Magnum Collegium:
“The Great College?” I guessed. “What was that?”
“It is . . . ” He shrugged. “A varied group of individuals united by a common interest.” . . .
“But what is it? What is the group’s common interest?”
“We confront Evil.”
“Well,” I said. “Hmm. Uh-huh. I see.” If someone ever tells you he’s a member of a worldwide club whose mission is to confront Evil, I defy you to come up with a pithy reply on the spot.
It turns out that there have been multiple disappearances, all during the vanishing part of magic acts. Max contacts the performers, an affectionately motley bunch, and Esther organizes their attempts at figuring out what’s happening and why. There’s skulking, red herrings, disguises, booby-traps, a cute cop who really don’t want to have to arrest Esther, and, of course, confronting Evil. I should note that the book teeters on the edge of a tone-content mismatch during the confrontation with Evil; on reflection, I think it gets away with it, but I did have to stop and think about it, which is sub-optimal. That’s my only quibble with the book, though.
This is the first book in a series, though it entirely stands on its own, and I definitely will be snapping up the next as soon as it’s out in December.
ObDisclaimer: Yes, this is published by Luna, but it’s not a romance; the relationship with the cute cop is a definite subplot and if you ignore the spine, you’ll never know it was published by *gasp* a subsidary of Harlequin. Girl cooties at a minimum, honest, so don’t let that stop you from reading it.