Polterheist by Laura Resnick
In the days leading up to Christmas, and in accordance with the rituals of a religion which is not her own, struggling actress Esther Diamond is working as a singing-and-dancing elf at Fenster & Co, a major Manhattan department store. Meanwhile, Detective Lopez, Esther’s former almost-boyfriend, is investigating a series of mob-related truck hijackings of Fenster’s costly merchandise. Lucky Battistuzzi, a semi-retired hit man in the Gambello crime family, is also investigating the thefts, since the Gambellos, who didn’t commit the robberies, are being inconveniently implicated in these events.
Esther becomes aware of mysterious and alarming events at Fenster’s, quite apart from lurking wiseguys, squabbling shoppers, and half-naked elves. Alerted to her concerns, her friend Dr. Maximillian Zadok, Manhattan’s resident mage, soon suspects that Evil is afoot in the crowded department store. Before long, Max and Esther realize that the famous shopping mecca has become the planned staging ground for the rebirth of a voracious ancient demon that’s plotting to take advantage of the winter solstice, when darkness prevails, to escape its amorphous mystical prison and commence a reign of terror in New York City.
Esther’s latest job is another pride-swallowing, garish experience. But Esther doesn’t complain as much as her peers, since she knows she has bills to pay. After a string of bizarre equipment “malfunctions,” delivery truck heists, and employee disapearances, Esther is convinced something mystical is happening and brings in her friend Max to investigate. The only thing better than Esther’s awkward situations that she always seems to find herself is her vibrant collection of friends. Resnick’s humor makes this a unique brand of urban fantasy that I just can’t resist.
This is the fifth in the Esther Diamond series, but each works well as a standalone. And I guarantee you won’t be able to read just one. Full of fabulously eccentric characters, magical mystery, and a bit of romance, Polterheist is the perfect holiday read for any urban fantasy fan.