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The Midnight Louie books are in my top 5 favourite mysteries and this is the first book in the series.

The main character is Temple Barr, a petite redhead who is a freelance PR whizz, because of her height she always wears high heels and keeps on stumbling over dead bodies.  She is adopted by Midnight Louie, a huge black cat who always seems to know where the best place is to be in the centre of the action.

What I love about these books is that Midnight Louie’s narratives punctuate the story.  Imagine a film noir smart ass detective complete with fedora, cigarette and an eye for the dames and this is Louie.  He is able to snoop around and reveal clues that the humans miss, but he also gives his own unique feline opinions of people and Vegas.

While mooching about in the convention centre which is hosting the American Booksellers Association Convention, he comes across a dead body and decides that it is his duty to alert the authorities to it – the authorities being Temple who is organising the PR for the event and ends up literally stumbling upon the body.

Temple, with a background in reporting and the curiosity of a cat, takes it upon herself to find out as much as she can about the dead man, believing that anything that can cause bad publicity for the event is part of her duties.  Of course her enthusiasm for ferreting out information irritates the police no end, especially the formidable Lieutenant C. R. Molina.  She is a woman you wouldn’t mess with, that is, unless you are Temple or Louie!

Throughout the book, it is revealed that this isn’t Temple’s first run in with Molina.  She ended up in Vegas after throwing caution to the wind and followed her gorgeous dark-haired and green-eyed magician boyfriend – the Mystifying Max – to Las Vegas, where they bought an apartment at the Circle Ritz.  This is a circular building owned by the brilliant Electra Lark – a senior citizen with a penchant for brightly dyed hair muumuus, who also runs the wedding chapel attached to the building.  After his last show at the Goliath, Max disappeared without a trace in mysterious circumstances, attracting the attention of  Molina causing her to set her sights on Temple who she thinks is protecting the whereabouts of Max.  There is also a new resident in the Circle Ritz, the gorgeous Matt Devine who lives up to his name and is the polar opposite to Max, who seems to be at the right place at the right time to help Temple.

Temple and Louie take a shine to each other and he gives up his position as the “in-house detective” at the Crystal Phoenix (run by Van von Rhine and her husband Nicky Fontana – the only Fontana to run a legitimate business in Vegas) to adopt her and help investigate the murder.

Throughout the book you find out all about the cut throat publishing industry, the catnapping of two important cats, several murders and the horrors of backstreet abortion.  By breaking up the story with the Louie narratives, the reader is constantly bouncing between different story lines and characters which keeps you on your toes and is ultimately a brilliant way of keeping the pages turning.  This leads to a very complex plot and this combined means that it is hard to figure out who the murderer was.

This book is a great springboard to the rest of the series.  In her typical style, Carole Nelson Douglas leaves you wanting more – what really happened to Max? What the story behind Matt Devine? What is going to happen to Temple and Louie?  A brilliant first book.

http://carolenelsondouglas.com

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I was in the disturbing quandary of not having any new books left to read, so I went onto the various online booksellers to see which books have been recommended and this was one of them

Brenna moves from Boston to a small town where she works in her friend’s paper shop specialising in decoupage.  She soon discovers the mayor’s body shoved in a trunk and her friend and landlord is being accused of the murder, so to save him and her sanity, she decides to do some investigating herself along with her best friend.

In some books, rather than establishing a character that the reader has an immediate affinity for, sometimes author do the opposite and introduce a character that is so annoying and infuriating that it serves just as well as a tool to feel empathy for the main character.  In this book, we are introduced to Ella and Marie Porter, senior citizen twins who are bent on bickering, one-upmanship and behaviour that would warrant them to me put on the naughty step and have their toys confiscated.  I am not sure if I actually felt empathy for Brenna with having to deal with these monsters and instead sped read over those paragraphs instead.

I liked this book, the story line was interesting with a good twist at the end (even though it felt a little rushed).  I am not sure if this was a deliberate ploy by the author, but  you often felt like an outsider to the community like Brenna – instead of say, the Hannah Swensen books where you are thrown into town life and enveloped by the characters – and so I wasn’t too keen on this, but I am interested enough in the characters to get the next book.

Author’s Website

This is the fourth book from the Ghost Hunter Mystery series featuring MJ Holliday (ghost hunter and medium), her best friend and business partner Gilley and Heath Whitefeather a fellow ghost hunter first seen in the last book Demons are a Ghoul’s Best Friend.

In the last book they battled an evil snake like demon which was filmed for a TV programme about possessed possessions, and they now have their own TV show ‘Ghoul Getters’, travelling around Europe finding the most haunted places to ghost hunt.  Unfortunately this also means that Doc the parrot wasn’t in the book that much, which was sad because who can resist a parrot who has a tendency to sing YMCA and shouts ‘Gilley, I’ve been shot!’ when he’s upset?  Also missing from this book was MJ’s boyfriend Dr Steven Sable who only made an appearance at the end…

In Scotland, the researchers found a village haunted by a witch and her sisters.  They emerge every 100 years to claim the lives of 7 people from the clans who brutally murdered and tortured the sisters believing that they were responsible for the plague that swept through the village.  Both MJ and Heath are shocked by the immense power that these witches have causing them to be physically and psychically beaten and rendering their usual weapons almost useless.

The witches, called upon by one of their direct descendants are out for blood and it turns out the Gilley’s ancestors were from one of the clans who tortured the witches and has been singled out to be one of their victims favouring fire as their weapon.  With his life in danger MJ and Heath decide that they have to pass over or lock down the witches to save him.  Gilley, in a permanent state of hysterical panic is now dousing himself in fire retardant and carrying around a fully armed fire extinguisher like a security blanket – never one to over-react!

I love Victoria Laurie’s books and this is no exception.  Her characters have many dimensions and she isn’t afraid to show their flaws, like true friends, you know that they can be sulky, snarky and sometimes a pain in the neck, but you still love them – and this is how you end up feeling about these characters.  I like that we were able to learn more about Heath, showing his sense of humour rather than being a ghost hunting pretty boy.

As far as the mystery part of the story goes, the clues were all cleverly concealed, so you get to figure out the mystery along with the characters – a perfect plot!  Like all Laurie’s books, the reveal at the end was full of excitement, danger, spooky goings on and a little bit of sadness, topped off with some humour too.

The new characters of Gopher, John, Meg and Kim are probably all going to be featured in the next books, expanding the cast and sub-plotlines, making for complex and exciting future books.  There was a cliff hanger at the end with the appearance of Dr Steven and I hope that this isn’t the last we see of him.  The only irritant in this book is the characters we offered tea with cream, something that I doubt any British person would have – you drink tea with milk!  Although you may have a cream tea which involves eating cakes and scones with cream at teatime.

I knew that this book would be brilliant, and I wasn’t disappointed.  The fast paced storyline, likable characters, paranormal subjects and humour in the books all add up to an exciting read, and one that I’ll re-read too.  My only problem, is that it was over too soon and I have to wait until next year for the next book.

Victoria Laurie’s Website

Before I start talking about books, I wanted to briefly point out what makes a good mystery book.

Some researchers have discovered a formula within the Agatha Christie books which explains why her stories are so popular and you start of thinking that you’ll just read one chapter and the next thing you know you are halfway through the books.    They called it the Agatha Christie Code.  It is based on the theory that the conscious mind can only focus on 5-9 things at once, and when there is more than that the mind can’t track everything so the person literally goes into a hypnotic trance – which is why you find yourself reading at 3am!  Agatha Christie used more than 9 characters, each one having an individual plot line happening at the same time, so the reader’s mind is overloaded and literally gets lost in the book.  She also repeated certain words or phrases and she even gives the feeling that we are racing through the book by having shorter paragraphs at the end and more descriptive ones at the beginning.

When I read a mystery book, often the most important thing – along with a likable main character and good plot, is that you can’t figure out who the murderer is and you discover the clues along with the heroine.

So, make yourself a cup of tea, curl up with the cat and read with me.

I love books.  I can’t remember a time when I didn’t have my nose in a book.  At school, I could escape the horrors of the playground; during the holidays I was transported off to different times and places; as an adult I collect old and battered books and  try to restore them, but they hold even more importance for me.  Seven years ago I developed nerve damage on my back which caused me to suffer constant chronic pain.  Often awake at night, feeling miserable and totally befuddled with pain killers I went back to my old favourite books by Agatha Christie, like a comfortable jumper, I found a distraction to the world I had found myself in.  When a friend talked about the Rita Mae Brown Mrs Murphy mystery books, I thought I’d give them ago and I haven’t looked back.  My name is Nicola and I collect mysteries!

There is a genre of books that are written in a similar form to Agatha Christie, often set in a small town where the hero (or more often heroine) is a valued member of the community – a post mistress, a PR whizz, a baker, bear makers, florists, a chocolatier, a barista, tea shop owner, pet sitter, psychic, ghost hunter, witch, a needlework shop owner, a journalist – spurred to look into the murders.  Sometimes they are even helped by talking animals like Joe in the Shirley Rousseau Murphy books, or the cats/dogs play a part in discovering clues like Louie in the Carole Nelson Douglas and Rita Mae Brown books.

Whoever the heroine and wherever they are set, they feature a complex web of plots, a huge cast of characters, not too much gore, but a lot of fun.  A modern Agatha Christie novel, but often dismissed as cozy books.

I was given a book journal for Christmas and have been writing my own reviews, but I soon filled the book and decided to detail what I have read here.  As well as the books I am reading at the moment (Ghouls Gone Wild – Victoria Laurie), I’ll add reviews of those that I have already read too.

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