No one trusts a doppelganger, and for good reason. Behind every stolen identity lies murder.
The Clandestine Daze series by Tim Marquitz is set in an Urban Fantasy world where fairy-like race called the Aellisar (called "Aels") live alongside humanity. They have their own nations, politics, and spies. Z is one of those spies, working for an unnamed intelligence service nicknamed A.I. He is a doppleganger, possessed of the ability to assume the identity and memories of anyone.
As long as he eats their eyes.
Forced to assume the identity of an innocent man he's murdered, Z struggles with what little remains of his conscience as he attempts to unravel a complicated series of plots designed to push the Human and Aellisar worlds to war. It may be too late to save his humanity but can he keep himself from becoming a monster?
- Eyes Deep: an introductory novella.
This series contains the following tropes:
- Arc Words: No one trusts a doppleganger.
- Antihero: Z will murder the innocent and do other crimes to protect the Aellisar races from discovery. He hates himself for it, though.
- Asshole Victim: Notably averted with Theodor Crane. He seems to have been a genuinely decent man.
- Attractive Bent-Gender: This, obviously, occurs when he assumes a female form of an attractive woman. Jace is more than a little into Z's female form in Influx.
- The Atoner: Z would dearly like to become one of these but can't as long as he's required to do evil in the service of A.I.
- Becoming the Mask: Always a danger with dopplegangers.
- Chaste Hero: Z refuses to have sex with his Theodor's wife as his own personal Moral Event Horizon but also punishes himself by denying himself sex with anyone else in some small way of atoning.
- Crapsack World: The Human World is full of monsters who feed on humans with impunity as well as government agencies who actively work to cover it all up.
- Double Standard: Rape, Sci-Fi: Averted. Z knows exactly what it would be if he slept with Theodor Crane's wife.
- Establishing Character Moment: A victim begs for his life before Z ignores his pleas, murders him, and assumes his shape. He almost retches during the last part, though.
- Evil Versus Evil: A.I. is outright evil in its methods, even if it's goals are benign (for Aellisars at least). Z is much nicer than them and he's an antihero who murders an innocent man when the mission calls for it.
- Z and A.I. are, theoretically, A Lighter Shade of Black for their desire to live in relative peace with humanity.
- Fair Folk: The Aellisar are fairy-like beings but are never referred to as such. They also, aside from their superpowers, act like 21st century humans.
- Fantastic Racism: Various Aellisar races have this with humanity. They also have it with each other.
- Dopplegangers are call ersatz and considered to be the lowest of the low amongst the Aellisar races.
- Vampires and humans, unsurprisingly, have it for one another when encountered.
- Femme Fatale: Jace fits all the criteria for one. She's a gorgeous bisexual blonde who is utterly amoral and a Consummate Professional.
- Government Agency of Fiction: A.I. is one of these by nature since the Aellisar are a race of fairy-like beings.
- Grand Theft Me: An odd example as dopplegangers can become people for all intents and purposes but keep their own bodies.
- I'm a Humanitarian: Z is this but only in order to assume the forms of the dead.
- It Gets Easier: Jace attempts to reassure Z by saying this following Theodor Crane's murder. Z doesn't want it to.
- Kick the Dog: Our hero does this, possibly crossing the Moral Event Horizon, in the opening pages.
- Killed to Uphold the Masquerade: A common tool of A.I. for dealing with humans.
- The Masquerade: The Aellisar have one and rigorously enforce it.
- Mangst: Z suffers from the fact he's a disposable commodity to a ruthless intelligence agency which will discard him if its convenient. Also, he's a murderer of innocents who's deaths may or may not be justified in the service to the greater good.
- Medieval Stasis: Thoroughly averted by the Aellisar world. It's every bit as advanced as humanity in the 21st century.
- Morality Pet: Z has made Theodor's family into one of these for himself. He's aware of the massive hypocrisy of said action.
- Necessarily Evil: Z considers himself to be this. He believes the horrible deeds he does are justified in the name of the greater good. He may be right, or he may be very-very wrong.
- Nice to the Waiter: Z drops an extra twenty-dollar tip to the bartender despite the fact the man probably spit in his drink out of jealousy (since Z looked like he was on a date with the ridiculously sexy Jace).
- No Pregger Sex: Z is claiming this to prevent his wife from being suspicious why he doesn't want to be intimate. She's getting very impatient.
- Our Fairies Are Different: The Aels are a modern 21st century people.
- Our Vampires Are Different: They're a race of fairies who are capable of living amongst humans without glamour.
- So Beautiful, It's a Curse: Played with. Jace is so lovely, other men tend to treat anyone she talks to like shit. Justified in that she's an Ael.
- Spanner in the Works: How Z often ends up for the plots he stumbles onto.
- Spy Fiction: Very much of the Stale Beer variety, though given it's about fairies, perhaps Stale Mead.
- Xanatos Gambit: Z deals with these on a regular basis as part of his intelligence work.
- Villain Protagonist: One way of reading the series given Z kills an innocent man in the first few pages of Eyes Deep. The rest of the book, however, treats him as an Unscrupulous Hero.
- Voluntary Shapeshifting: Z has this as a power. It requires eating eyeballs. He finds it as disgusting as anyone else.