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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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