The first book in the magical Esther Diamond mystery series...
When mysterious mystical disappearances disrupt her career, struggling actress Esther Diamond teams up with Maximillian Zadok, an eccentric elderly wizard whose day job is protecting the Big Apple from Evil. Meanwhile, the sexy NYPD detective investigating the disappearances fears that Esther and Max may be a bigger problem than the vanishing performers.
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By Laura Resnick
LunaCopyright © 2005 Laura Resnick
All right reserved.
Idespise movies where the heroine is threatened and simply ignores it, acting as if there's nothing to worry about. I mean, if you got a mysterious note telling you not to go into the attic, and you knew that the last person who'd gone into the attic had gotten into a whole lot of trouble — well, would you really just shrug, toss the note aside, and head for the attic without another thought?
If you would, then frankly, you're the kind of person who deserves what's going to happen to you up there.
So naturally, when I received my mysterious threatening note, I gave it my full attention.
It arrived a few days after Golly Gee disappeared.
The night of the performance the stage manager had brought the curtain down in front of a surprised audience, the hapless house manager had announced that there'd been an accident backstage and the show was over, and we had spent the rest of the evening giving our statements to the police — who were less interested in the case than you might suppose.
Golly wasn't all that stable to begin with, and her recent discovery, during hypnotherapy, that she had been Marilyn Monroe in a previous incarnation had resulted in some very strange behavior, including a marked obsession with the Kennedy family.
The police seemed to think Golly had walked out in the middle of the performance and gone off on some bizarre quest. Since there was no sign of violence or foul play, the good-looking detective who interviewed Joe and me evidently didn't plan to do much more than file a missing persons report if Golly didn't reappear (so to speak) in a couple of days.
I didn't necessarily agree with Detective Lopez's view of the matter, but I hardly knew Golly and certainly couldn't claim to miss her. Besides, with the leading lady missing (and in breach of contract), I finally had that big break I'd been fanta-sizing about since the beginning of rehearsals: I'd be playing Virtue from now on. If, that is, we could get Joe back onstage.
The night Golly vanished, Joe had been too hysterical to give a coherent statement to Detective Lopez — who had, in any case, not seemed to expect much coherence from any of the actors. (I sensed that our being painted green and covered in glitter affected the detective's impression of us.) Joe seemed to blame himself for Golly's disappearance, and he refused to do the show again. Consequently, Matilda was forced to cancel our next few performances while she tried to talk some sense into him. We didn't have an understudy for Joe. He was the show.
We couldn't even get him into the theater for the rehearsal I had requested. I didn't want to go on as Virtue without a complete run-through. For one thing, there had been several changes in the show since my last rehearsal in the role. More importantly, I wanted to make sure I could trust Joe to pull himself together before I let him saw me in half, balance my body on the point of a sword or do the flame-throwing routine with me. Things can go terribly wrong onstage when people lose their concentration. Actors have been stabbed to death while playing Richard III. They've been shot to death with mis-loaded prop guns, as well as strangled to death in malfunctioning harnesses. It's a much riskier profession than you might suppose, and I was determined not to be among the ranks of thespians whose reviews read "R.I.P."
It was in this frame of mind that I read the messages handed to me by the assistant stage manager as I arrived at the theater on Tuesday. The first note informed me that Joe would not be at rehearsal today. The second note advised me that there would be an Equity meeting that afternoon to discuss our circumstances; in other words, the actors would all get together to fret about whether we were going to lose our jobs, as well as to make empty threats about what we'd do to management if they folded the show on us just because a pop singer had gone AWOL and a magician was having a nervous breakdown.
The third note was handwritten on expensive monogrammed paper, initials M.Z. It was written with a black fountain pen in elegant, archaic-looking script. It read:
As you value your life, do not go into the crystal cage. There is Evil among us.
"I'm looking for Detective Lopez," I told the uniformed sergeant at the muster desk. The precinct house was chaotic and noisy, just like in the movies. I had practically sprinted here from the theater on Christopher Street. The desk sergeant sent me upstairs to the squad room, a large, cluttered, overcrowded area painted a vile green.
I spotted Lopez right away. He was sitting at his desk, apparently begging a chubby white man with a loud tie not to force a large, overflowing box of file folders on him. The man, whose expression was irritable, dropped the box on Lopez's desk and walked away. Lopez, looking like he wanted to weep, lowered his head and banged it against his desk a few times.
Perhaps I had come at a bad time.
However, the mysterious note was burning a hole in my pocket, and there was no way I was going to turn around and leave without reporting it to the police.
I took a breath and squared my shoulders as Lopez lifted his head and reached for his ringing phone. After a moment, he cradled the phone between his ear and his shoulder and, still talking, started unpacking the overflowing box. It appeared to contain a lifetime supply of old paperwork — dog-eared, a little dusty and flaking. Frowning, Lopez brushed something away from his face and kept unpacking the box while he continued his phone conversation.
I crossed the room, nearly bumping into someone whose hooker costume looked really authentic, right down to the runny mascara and handcuffs. Lopez, whose gaze was fixed on his mountain of paperwork, didn't see me. His jacket was slung over the back of his chair. He wore a holster over his shirt; the gun inside it looked really authentic, too. I stared at it while he kept talking on the phone.
He had the body of an athlete — soccer or tennis, perhaps, a sport that required lithe muscles and physical grace. He was around thirty years old, and he had a dark, strong, slightly exotic face framed by thick, straight, jet-black hair. His eyes were blue, and just as I was wondering where that trait had come from, I read the nameplate on his desk: Detective Connor Lopez.
"Connor?" I said in surprise. He didn't look like a Connor. He glanced up and saw me. There was no look of recognition, but my use of his name must have made him realize I was there to see him. He gestured to a utilitarian chair next to his desk, and I sat down.
"Uh-huh," he said into the phone. "Yes. No. What time?...
Can't you get it to me any sooner? I need it before I can apply for a warrant."
Someone called across the squad room, "Lopez, line four!" He raised a hand in acknowledgment, then closed his eyes and rubbed his forehead as if it ached. Well, he had banged it rather hard against the desk. "One hour," he said firmly. "No, one hour. Please." He grinned after a moment and said, "I almost love you right now." Then he hung up and said to me, "I'm sorry, miss, I'll be with you in a minute." He hit another phone line and said, "Detective Lopez."
It was clear from his expression a moment later that the call was personal. "Hi. Uh-huh... What?" His expression darkened. Turning away from me, he said, "No, I can't."
Though I could tell he didn't remember me, he had certainly made a memorable impression on the cast of Sorcerer! the night he'd questioned us.
"Okay, you're right," Lopez said to his caller, "I don't want to. Now I have to go. I've got —"
He was interrupted by a voice on the other end of the line, loud enough that even I could hear it. The caller sounded like a woman.
Some of the show's nymphs had been openly interested in him, and although his behavior couldn't be called unprofessional, he'd obviously enjoyed their flirting. He'd been caught off guard by the same sort of interest coming from a couple of the satyrs, but he'd nonetheless been courteous about it.
"No. No. No!" Lopez sounded exasperated. "Look, what part of 'no' didn't you —" He sighed and closed his eyes, listening again. After a moment, he said, "Why do you persecute me like this? Why, why?" A pause. "Besides that."
Two cops hauled someone past me who looked like a rapper. A very annoyed rapper.
"Look, this isn't a good time," Lopez said into the phone.
"Can we —" He winced.
Even I winced. His caller's voice was getting shrill.
Lopez took a deep breath and said, in a voice filled with dark despair, "Mom, I can't talk now. Goodbye... Bye." He scowled and said, "I'm hanging up now. Right now."
The voice was still squawking as Lopez gently placed the receiver in its cradle. Looking a little paler than when I'd arrived, he turned to me and said, "Now, what can I do for you, Miss..."
"Diamond. Esther Diamond. You took my statement Saturday night at the New View Venue on Christopher Street."
"Oh, yeah! Miss Diamond." His gaze traveled over me slowly, then he grinned. "You look different without all that green body makeup."
"I'm also wearing a lot more clothes today," I said, noticing where his eyes lingered.
He raised them to my face. "And much less glitter."
"Have you made any progress on the case, Detective?"
"That singer who disappeared — Gosh Darn?"
He smiled at me, and I realized he'd been kidding. "She's still missing," he said. "I know."
"No ransom demands?" he asked. "No."
"Have you heard from her family? I've tried to get a hold of her mother, but —"
"Oh, I doubt that Golly was of woman born," I said.
"Um, her mother's in Europe just now. Golly's manager got a hold of her yesterday. She hasn't heard from her, either." I shrugged. "She's really missing, Detective."
He nodded. "I've filed a missing persons report."
"It'll be compared to any likely Jane Doe that turns up."
"You mean, like...a body?"
He said, "Her family — or her manager — might consider hiring a private investigator."
"Anything else?" he asked.
"Yes. This is a little strange...." He raised one black brow. "Last week you told me that a woman had vanished into thin air in front of hundreds of people —"
"Not hundreds. Our house wasn't that good."
"But you're afraid that what you're going to tell me now is a little strange? I can hardly wait."
I pulled out the note and handed it to him. He read it over briefly and then frowned at me.
"This came in the mail?"
"No. Someone left it at the theater for me."
"Did you get a description?" he asked.
"The assistant stage manager, who accepted the envelope from him, says he was a short, slightly chubby, white man, at least seventy years old. Lots of white hair and a beard. He wore a fedora and a duster."
"You know. One of those long coats they wear in cowboy movies."
"Oh. Anything else?"
"I don't think so."
"As you value your life, do not go into the crystal cage," Lopez read aloud. "There is Evil among us." It has a certain ring to it. But why does this guy think you intend to go into the cage?"
I explained. When I was done, Lopez studied me speculatively. His silence got on my nerves, so I asked, "Do you think it's important?"
"The note," I snapped.
"Well, it provides a new theory."
"So you no longer think Golly walked off on her own?"
"Actually, that's exactly what I think happened. According to the statements I took, Miss Gee is a temperamental twenty-three-year-old who's got less fame than she wants and less sense than she needs."
"That hardly —"
"She's got cash flow problems, and she's deep in debt — mostly to plastic surgeons and diet clinics. She's also got a police record — mostly minor drug busts. Two of the Kennedys have had to slap restraining orders on her, and —"
"You've checked up on her!" I shouldn't have sounded so surprised. He looked insulted.
"Yes, Miss Diamond, I did. But now I find myself obliged to concentrate on more mundane matters — assault, murder, armed robbery, extortion and so on." As he gestured to the mountain of paperwork on his desk, a clerk dropped another armload of files onto it. Lopez stared after her with a tragic expression.
"But what about the note?" I said. "Do you think — ?"
"I think it's a hell of a promotional opportunity for an off-Broadway show with overextended producers and an ambitious understudy."
"You think I had something to do with this?"
"I have to consider all possibilities."
Okay, I had seen enough cop shows on TV to know that. So I tried not to take offense. "Look, I'm not reaping any benefits from this fiasco. Joe Herlihy is refusing to perform the show again."
"He didn't get along with Golly Gee, did he? She insulted him, humiliated him, upstaged him and accused him of attempting to set her on fire that very night."
"Surely you don't think Joe is behind this?"
Excerpted from Disappearing Nightly by Laura Resnick Copyright © 2005 by Laura Resnick. Excerpted by permission.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
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What People are Saying About This
“Swift, fresh, and inventive, DISAPPEARING NIGHTLY is Laura Resnick at her witty best. Not to be missed!”—Mary Jo Putney, New York Times bestselling author
“A paranormal screwball comedy adventure. Light, happy, fantastically funny!”—Jennifer Cruise, New York Times bestselling author
“A delightful mélange of amateur sleuth mystery, romance and urban fantasy.... Esther Diamond, (is) a protagonist as quirky as Charlaine Harris's Sookie Stackhouse…and with the sex appeal of Laurell K. Hamilton's Anita Blake.”—Explorations
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
Actress Esther Diamond knows she should have had the lead of Venus in the play Sorcerers instead of Golly Gee but while she is the current understudy, she hopes that Golly will get sick and she will have the chance to play the part. During the latest performance, Golly steps into an ordinary crystal cage and when the illusion is supposed to be finished she is nowhere to be found. Esther anticipates going on stage as Venus the next day but she gets a letter warning her not to go in the crystal cage because ¿Evil is on the Loose.¿.............. She reports the note to Connor a detective who thinks it is just a prank. In Esther¿s dressing room Maximilian Zadok materializes and tells her than another female disappeared while performing the same magic that and tells her he sent the note to save her because he is a mage who belongs to the Magnum Collegium, an organization that fight evil. Other women in the same situation also disappear and once Esther believes him, she decides to help him find what happened to the missing women, who is behind it and why.................. The sparks fly between the detective and the actress but he refused to give in to his feelings because he believes she is a fruitcake and a suspect. Combining elements from the romance, fantasy and mystery genres, DISAPPEARING NIGHTLY is an enchanting novel that will appeal to readers of all three genres. The mystery is well constructed leaving readers trying to figure out who is behind the disappearances. The heroine is at times funny and determined but always charming and believable................ Harriet Klausner
I bought Dopplegangster and wanted to start with number 1, it was very hard to find and not worth the time or money. Too much going on...just go straight to number 2 its MUCH better.
I absolutely *loved* this book!
It's a quick, fun paranormal read about Esther Diamond, who has a role playing a green nymph in the Off-Off-Off Broadway show "Sorceror!" When the show's star, Golly Gee, truly disappears during a magic-show type disappearing act, it doesn't take Esther long to figure out that something strange is going on -- especially when she finds out that other people have also gone missing during the same type of acts.
This book is full of quirky characters who are truly fun and well-developed -- from the three-hundred-plus-year-old Max to the creepy Hieronymus, from Dolly the Dancing Cowgirl and Delilah the beautiful transvestite, to Satsy (aka Saturated Fat) the obese cross-dresser to the tight-lipped Herlihy.
Read it! It's too good to pass up. My only complaint is that the second book in the series, DOPPELGANGSTERS, didn't come out from Luna Books in December 2006 as planned. Fortunately, DAW is publishing it in 2008. I can't wait!
It took a while for me to get into this book. It was a bit confusing, a little frustrating at times, but well worth the read. Once I got into it, I finished in hours.
This is an amusing tale with an engaging heroine and a cast of terrific secondary characters. I figured out the bad guy pretty early on, but the story was well developed and the promise of romance interesting. Obviously the beginning of a series, I look forward to the next installment.
Esther Diamond gets her big break when the lead in her off-Broadway magic/musical show disappears. No really DISAPPEARS. Esther's excitement cools when she starts getting warnings not to repeat the magic trick that caused the previous disappearance. When she learns that more magicians are missing assistants following disappearing acts she teams up with an ancient wizard and a motley crew of New York performers and magicians, Esther is determined to find the missing.I truly enjoyed this book. If I had to sum it up in one phrase I would say, Harry Potter meets Stephanie Plum. Esther is a delight and the entire cast of characters are huge fun. The story is engaging. I am anxious to read the next one.
I just have to start this off by saying, that this book is such a mess. Let me put it this way, I paid two dollars for this book, and I feel ripped off.The plot isn't that bad. A woman who works on stage gets into a box and vanished. It happens again, and the main char of the book, Esther, to fin out what happened to them. I actually looked forward to reading this, but it was a major let down.Where to start. Let's talk about the dumb character names. We meet such characters as Golly Gee, Khyber Pass, Saturated Fat aka Saysy, Whoopsy Daisy, Darling Delilah, and Goudini. Trust me, I'm not making this up. Not only do the characters have stupid names, they're paper thin and have no depth them.The author's writing style has a lot to be desired. It's very weak and didn't hold my attention. Trust me, this is a bad book. Don't even get it at the library, where it's free. It's honestly that bad.
This book is brain candy, and I love it. First, Esther's Jewish, which makes for a nice change. Second, the book is refreshingly free of any Speshulness on Esther's part; she screws up, but she's clever and gets by on her own merits. Third, it's basically angst free. The author figures out how to be funny without being obnoxious. Honestly, it reminds me of those 30s comedies like Bringing Up Baby, with the smartass heroine and her bemused hero. And the chemistry between Esther and Lopez, her love interest, is delicious.
Esther Diamond, a sometimes-(off)-Broadway actress, and a not-quite-immortal wizard search for the magician responsible for a series of disappearances. Light in tone with a (sometimes overwhelmingly) zany cast of characters, this is a mostly enjoyable, slightly romantic urban fantasy. That said, the ending put a very sour taste in my mouth because of a scene in which the villain is raped. My perception is that the author set it up to be a scene of cosmic justice set against a laugh-track background. Maybe my sense of humor is just insufficiently developed, but I don't find rape funny. If I hadn't already read and enjoyed Doppelgangsters, Resnick would have gone on my to-avoid list for that.
A quite amusing story of an actress who gets pulled into a mystery when the woman she understudies disappears in the middle of the show. Why and how she disappears is unknown. A mysterious man turns up and enlists her help.Now it was a fun read but occasionally I felt like shouting at the character to look behind her, to notice the obvious, but she didn't. Occasionally it descends into cliche and stays there for a while before moving into fun again. It felt more like a first novel than something written by an author who has several books under her belt.
Pretty good! Well-written, fast-paced, interesting characters. It was amusing and entertaining, and very neat.
A perfectly fine book. Not great, but not bad, this book focuses more on witty banter than a complex story. A fun, quick read.
This book was funny and witty and generally a fun read. There were things about it that bugged me, though. The fact that all of the characters were more caricatures than people. I think Ms Resnick's previous fantasy novels had a lot more depth and intricacy to them.
Was a fun read.
Should be posted here!
I read a lot, and like to balance out heavy/serious/intense books by reading something light and fun. Disappearing Nightly fit the bill perfectly. The characters are quirky and have some depth. The story is total fantasy, with a little romance and intrigue thrown in. If you like Evanovich's Stephanie Plum books, you will probably like this. I have already read the 2nd in the series, and plan to continue reading them.
I like the books I read to have humor in them and even comedy when it is appropriate. This story is full of comedy, well more like slapstick. But, the characters remain flat without any emotion invested in them, which is why I can’t say this is a really good book. You may enjoy it more than I did. I have to say I won’t be reading any more of her books.
I had already read all of the other Ester Diamond books before this. I had no idea until after I bought this that it was the FIRST book of the series. It is very confusing because it states that it was published in June 2012 when it is really a re-release from 2006. This should have been made clear!! I didn't care for this book as it dragged on and on. I ended up skipping the middle of the book and read only the first 80 or so pages and the last 40 pages and didn't miss a thing. The other books of the series I really enjoyed and I will get the next of this series. If you haven't read any of the series or if you have read the others makes no difference because this book can (and should) be skipped. I'm upset because I feel like I was mislead about this book and it wasn't worth my time or money to read it. Sorry!