Wednesday, March 8, 2017

Christmas in April

It was a bit out of season to be reading Laura Resnick's Polterheist, since it's set in and around Manhattan at Christmas, but that didn't stop me from enjoying the further misadventures of poor Esther Diamond.

With shifts at Bella Stella down due to the number of college kids on break and no auditions on the horizon, Esther is forced to take a job at Fenster & Co., a large department store famous for its elaborate Christmas displays. As Dreidel, the Hanukkah Elf. Along for the ride are her ex, Jeff (known as Diversity Santa), and Satsy (Drag Queen Santa). We open a few days before Christmas, as various seasonal employees have gone missing along with their costumes.

The first sign that Evil is afoot in the store comes fairly early on as first Satsy gets attacked by a demonic laugh that burns off his Santa suit in the Employee freight elevator, followed closely by Esther getting attacked by a talking tree she sings duets with. Which instead of nice things like "Deck the Halls" instead starts talking about wanting her flesh and blood.

Which is about the time her sort of almost ex-boyfriend Detective Connor Lopez walks into the store. Who's investigating truck hijacking that the media seems to think is related to an old feud between the Fenster family and the Gambello family. Which is about the point Lucky Gambello shows up, since it's not the Gambellos. We also meet all the dysfunctional Fensters, including Elspeth, who knows Dreidel from her stint in The Vampyre.

Any rate, it's about halfway through the book before Max and Nelli show up. Thinking what ever is going on at Fenster's is a Poltergeist, Esther sneaks in Lucky and Max as the elves Sugarplum and Belsnickel. (Max poses as a Blind Elf, which allows him to disguise Nelli as the seeing eye reindeer.)

Which leads in to Esther being attacked by Karaoke Bear the next day at work. Trying to save a customer from the really animated singing bear, she manages to make the saving look like assault. Sadly, Carlos, the customer turns out to be Lopez's father. His wife beats Esther with her purse. Which is a unique way to meet the parents.

Any rate, the last act unfolds, and everything gets resolved in the normal manner.

Followed by a really surprising development that I'm sure will be revisited in Misfortune Cookie.

Overall, the book is a very funny and well written piece, although the reveal and resolution aren't particularly a surprise. There's a distinct lack of red herrings throughout the central narrative. On the othe rhand, Lopen and Esther are actually talking about events from previous books and sharing perspective finally, so that's a good thing.

While not the best book in the series, I can think of worse additions to series fiction by other authors.