Dear Ms. Resnick:
I think that you are an underrecognized author who is on the cusp of a real breakthrough. Your entry from the Luna line was smart and funny.
Esther Diamond is the understudy to Golly Gee, a B list pop star with a mediocre voice and a yen for acting. The current Broadway production involves a magician's act. During the act, Golly Gee goes into her disappearing box and never reappears. Golly Gee's disappearance is just one of several disappearing acts gone bad. Esther Diamond has to solve the mystery before she is forced to be the next one in the disappearing act. With the help of a 300+ year old alchemist, Esther Diamond has to fight a virgin hunting demon in order to save herself and her friends.
The romance in this story is sparse but provide some of the best scenes. I hope you don’t mind me liberally quoting from your book but your dialogue is so superior than any words that I could use to describe it.
Lopez had a nondescript car parked illegally near the magic shop. A handy official notice propped in the window warned other cops not to make the mistake of assuming that parking statutes applied to this vehicle the way they did to others.
He opened the passenger door for me, then got into the driver’s seat while I buckled up.
“Where to?” he asked. He kept his gaze forward and was frowning slightly.
“I haven’t had dinner yet,” I heard myself say.
He let out his breath and leaned his forehead against the steering wheel.
We were silent for a moment, not looking at each other.
“We can’t have dinner together,” he said at last.
“I wasn’t asking, ”
“Yes, you were.” He lifted his head and sat back.
In for a penny, in for a pound, so I said, “Okay, why can’t we have dinner together?”
“I can’t date someone who’s part of a current investigation.”
“It wouldn’t be a date.”
“Yes, it would,” he said, “and you know it would. You know it’s been on my mind ever since I saw you without glitter and green body paint all over everything but your teeth.”
“It has?” I asked, pleased.
He gave me an exasperated look. “No, I always make inappropriate comments when I’m interviewing women, Esther. It’s my ambition to get suspended for sexual harassment.”
Look – a cop who actually doesn’t sleep with a suspect. The cop is smart. He is able to put 2 + 2 together and get 4. He’s able to pick up on subtle clues and he does actual investigating. Esther is great fun herself and the twist at the end (as to who actually is the virgin who gets sacrificed) is a complete hoot. I really hope to see more of Lopez in the next book.
I could probably quote for a year from this book but I won’t. Okay, just one more scene? I loved the breakfast scene.
Off the record or not, he was on the job again. “Esther, just tell me straight up. Do you really believe the stuff that Max Zadok was spouting in my house yesterday?”
“He went to your house?” I said, puzzled.
“My precinct house,” Lopez amended.
“You tell me something straight up,” I said. “Are you satisfied that he’s no threat to, ” I stopped when I heard an unfamiliar jingle. “What’s that?”
“Excuse me.” He reached into his pocket and withdrew his cell phone, then frowned when he read the caller ID. “I’d better answer it. She’ll just keep calling every twenty minutes if I don’t. I’m sorry, Esther. This won’t take long.”
He flipped open his phone and, with a look of long-suffering patience, said, “Hi, Mom.”
I snorted into my coffee and smirked at his warning glare.
“Yeah. Uh-huh. No. No.” After a moment, he said, “Let’s try this again. No. I said no. Have you gone deaf? MomÃ¢â‚¬Â¦” He winced and pulled the phone away from his ear, then covered the receiver with his hand and said to me, “You would be amazed at the number of friends my mom has who have single daughters living in the city. All of them, it would seem, in such desperate need of a date that they have authorized our mothers to act as matchmakers.”
“Yeah, I don’t really think so, either, but my mom keeps swearing it’s so. I’m guessing her Confessor knows the truth, though. Lucky for her, lying’s only a venial sin.”
I guessed, “Your mom is where your blue eyes come from?”
He nodded. “Bridget Eileen Donovan.”
“And your Dad?”
“From Cuba. Came over when he was young.”
And was, no doubt, the source of Lopez’s exotic good looks, I thought, aware of the crisp black hair brushing his collar and the smooth, dark skin of his throat.
He put the phone back to his ear. “Yes, Mom, I’m still here. No, I can’t. No.” He listened. “There is a good reason.” In response to her next question, he said, “Because I’ve met someone I like.”
Our eyes locked. I suddenly wished I didn’t look like such a hag today.
“No,” he said into the phone, “I’m not lying just to get rid of you. Uh-huh. Yes, she’s female. No, not married. Yes, still in her childbearing years.”
I choked on my coffee.
“Well, I haven’t looked everywhere yet, but I haven’t noticed any excessive piercing.” He listened for a moment. “Pretty?” His gaze ran over me. “Well, sometimes.”
I glared at him.
He grinned and added, “In her way.”
I drank more coffee, pretending to ignore him.
“No, I think she’s Jewish.” When I continued ignoring him, he poked my calf with his foot. “Right?” I nodded and he said, “Yeah, Jewish. No, she won’t convert. Yes, I’m sure. No, I don’t want Father Devaney to give her a call.” After another moment, he said, “No, we haven’t talked about how we’ll raise the children. Or the weddingÃ¢â‚¬Â¦ Actually, no. No. No, not that, eitherÃ¢â‚¬Â¦ Well, because we haven’t been on a date yet. No, I’m not sure we will.”
He held the phone away from his ear again while his mother squawked. Then he said to her, “Because I suspect she’s crazy, and I’m a little afraid that she’s committed a felony. And you can see how that would be a conflict of interest for me.” In response to his loving mother’s next question, he said, “No, no, nothing quite as bad as homicide or armed robbery.” He glanced up and asked me, “Er, I’m right about that, aren’t I?”
“I’d like you to go away now,” I said sincerely.
“In fact, Mom, I’m trying to have breakfast with her right now, so if you’ll justÃ¢â‚¬Â¦ No, I did not spend the night with her.”
“Why are you talking about this with your mother?” I demanded.
He said to me, “Because it’s so much less time-consuming than resisting. Believe me. I speak from experience.” Into the phone, he said, “Huh? Okay, good. Say hi to Pop for me. And Mom? Try not to call me again for a while, okay? It’s making a bad impression on this woman.” He grinned. “Well, even felons have their standards, Mom. Bye.”
I stared at him in mingled outrage and amazement after he hung up, too dumbfounded to come up with any of the scathing comments that he and his mother deserved.
“Don’t look at me like that,” he said, spreading cream cheese on the other half of his bagel. “You have no idea what a huge step it was for me to admit to my mom that, in a city of eleven million people, I’ve met a single, female person of childbear-ing age.” He added with a frown, “It was getting a little difficult to keep convincing her that there were no such people in New York.”
“If she’s so determined to marry you off,” I asked, “how have you stayed single this long?”
“Well, this is kind of a recent thing. She and my dad hit their sixties a few years ago and suddenly realized they didn’t have any grandchildren. Then my older brothers, there are two, I’m the youngest in the family, well, they screwed me over.”
“My eldest brother told Mom he’s gay.” Lopez scowled. “I could kill him.”
I blinked. “Er, you didn’t strike me as homophobic.”
“I’m not. And he’s not gay. He just said that to get her off his back about marrying and providing her with grandchildren. But it worked out so well, he intends to keep that story going unless he meets someone he wants to marry.”
“And when my other brother saw how well that worked, he more or less did the same thing.”
“Told your parents he’s gay?” I said.
“No, that excuse was taken, and Tim, the eldest, wouldn’t let us use it. Said it might look suspicious if we all suddenly became gay. So Michael, my middle brother, told Mom he’s had a spiritual revelation and is planning to enter the priesthood.”
“Hey, the Church needs all the help it can get. Mom’s thrilled. Me, I think it was a tactical error. It’ll be years before she wonders why Tim never brings a man home for Christmas, but she’s bound to notice pretty soon that Mikey’s not in seminary.”
“I see,” I said. “So your brothers abandoned you. No cover, no camouflage.”
“It’s been rough,” Lopez said wearily. “The whole force of that woman’s grandmotherly instincts concentrated on me, and me alone. I ask you, what’s the point of putting up with siblings all through childhood if something like this is going to happen to you in adulthood?”
“You’re in a tight spot,” I observed.
“But not anymore.” He smiled at me. “Now I’ve got you.’
“A crazy felon who’s not Catholic. And I didn’t even tell her yet that you’re an actress. I’m saving that for an emergency.” He looked smug. “Could I have picked anyone better to turn my mother off the idea of my getting married?”
I propped my chin on my hand and stared into my coffee as the disappointment sank in. “Oh. So you don’t like me that much, after all I’m just a convenient foil.”
“Actually, I like you a lot.” He kept his eyes on his bagel as he added, “And I think you’re pretty.” After a moment, he admitted, “Well, not so much right now.
“I’m having a very difficult week!” I said defensively.
B+ for you.
P.S. I hope I am not in violation of any copyright here. Smooches.