Saturday, January 19, 2013

Vamparazzi by Laura Resnick

Vamparazzi is an urban fantasy, apparently the fourth in the series about Esther Diamond, but not in the vein of so man urban fantasies these days.  Esther is an attractive young woman living in a city, but she apparently is not magically talented.  She is not half-siren, or half-demon, or half-vampire, or any of the other unlikely scenarios that many urban fantasy authors think up to make their character both magical and a special snowflake.  Esther is not a bounty hunter, a bodyguard, or a private eye.  She's not well armed and not particularly angry.  Nor does she particularly kick butt.  How refreshing.

Esther is an actress, and she has a role in a short run of an off-Broadway costume drama as a woman who is seduced and killed by a vampire.  The vampire is played by a somewhat well-known actor who claims to actually be a real vampire, and will only accept roles in which he can play a vampire.  His many adoring female fans lap it up, and he takes full advantage of their throwing themselves at him.  Some of the fans view Esther with hostility, however, as they want to be in her role, the one who the vampire seduces and marries.  One night Esther is punched by a fan, who goes home that night with the star of the show, and that just elevates the hostility Esther has to wade through each night outside the theater.

The problem is that the woman who assaulted Esther and went home with Daemon, the star, is found dead the next day, so of course the police are hanging around.  Esther consults with her friend Max, a 350-year-old magician who looks over the city of New York, and they conclude that it is probably the work of a vampire.  The story is then interrupted in the middle for a flashback and a really long infodump about how everything people think they know about vampires is wrong.  We eventually get back to the story, but the middle section really derails things and loses the momentum we had built up before it.

The tone of the book is fairly light, and Esther doesn't detect by banging heads, she's just loudmouthed, obnoxious, and nosy.  I grew to like her less and less as the story went on, but I was fairly entertained throughout.  I was a bit annoyed by the end, as they declare that the killer must have been killed, he couldn't possibly have survived, but they don't go and find a body, which is a nasty trick that sometimes leads to annoying sequels.  I hope that will not be the case here.  I was also struck by quite a few copyediting problems, like repeated words and incorrect words (for instance, the dog wagged its tale).  The New York publishing establishment likes to point at editing issues in self-published and small press books, but they are also often inattentive to details.

This is not a challenging or deep or satisfying novel, by any means, but I liked it well enough that I will track down another one.