Polterheist by Laura Resnick is the 5th book in the Esther Diamond series. I’ve read them all and they’re all hilarious. There will be some minor spoilers for the earlier books in my review.
This series follows aspiring actress Esther Diamond and the wacky supernatural hijinks she gets into. In the first book she was involved in some evil magic in an off-off broadway musical she was in and met Max who is 300+ years old and the self-appointed “defender against evil” for NYC. As well as the delicious sexy and ever doubting Det. Connor Lopez, who I think is my favorite hero. He’s just so sweet and well meaning! He’s constantly getting Esther out of some wacky supernatural scrape or another.
Anyway, these books are pretty formulaic. Esther has taken some kind of job, the supernatural starts attacking people she then investigates with Max and runs afoul of Det. Lopez. What makes these books great isn’t the overall plot. It’s the wacky situations. This particular book finds Esther desperate to make rent so she takes a job working at the department store Fenster and Co’s Solsticeland. A multicultural winter wonderland designed to draw in customers with their fabulous displays and get them to buy something. Esther is working as one of Santa’s elfs. Yes, she is a Jewish Christmas Elf, and because it’s multi-cultural that’s actually reflected in her Blue and White costume as well as her elf’s name, Dreidel.
Esther is minding her own business working with a motley crew of various holiday rejects when things start to get weird. Drag Queen Santa (there are multiple different Santas and they are all nick-named by the staff) gets attacked in an elevator, and then the animatronic tree comes to live and almost kills Esther. These are clearly supernatural occurrences so she calls her friend Max. She also runs into “semi-retired hit man” Lucky Battistuzzi, who is investigating truck hijackings that are being falsely blamed on the mob. While all this happens she is trying to avoid Det. Lopez during her investigation, but see him in a romantic sense. The book does a bit busy, but Resnick is a pretty tight writer, she ties up all her loose ends and all the plot aspects are working together. It really makes up a wacky, madcap story.
I think the opening 50 pages where Esther is dealing with some pissed off crowds at Santa’s workshop is one of the funniest things I’ve ever read. If you’ve ever done holiday retail it’s a must. I have to say the book does take a bit of a dive. The previous book in this series (Vamparazzi) was really solid all the way through. This one tends to be a bit more formulaic. It really re-hashes some ground that we’ve been to before, and feels like a procedural. That being said it was still a blast and I loved it. I won’t be deterred from the rest of the series. The next book is called “The Misfortune Cookie.” Hee hee!
I give it 4 out of 5 Drag Queen Santas