Book Review: Cat in an Alien X-Ray by Carole Nelson Douglas—and a Giveaway!

Cat in an Alien X-RayCat in an Alien X-Ray
A Midnight Louie Mystery
Carole Nelson Douglas
Forge, August 2013
ISBN 978-0-7653-2748-2
Hardcover

From the publisher—

Cat in an Alien X-Ray takes the Las Vegas gang on a science-fictional roller-coaster ride, as Midnight Louie, feline PI, and company encounter UFO enthusiasts, conspiracy nuts who are too bizarre even for tin foil hat therapy. An Area 51 attraction on the Strip threatens to bring more than starry-eyed enthusiasts to town. Once again it is up to that furballed PI Midnight Louie to keep his crew in line and save them from the attack of the creatures from the beyond…or common criminals that prey on the innocent.

Visiting with Midnight Louie, Temple Barr and all their colleagues is always—ALWAYS—a treat and Cat in an Alien X-Ray is certainly no exception. After so many books (this is #25!), this series has cemented itself in my affections and has become, over the years, one of my favorite comfort reads. I don’t expect that to be true with all mystery readers; after all, some can’t handle cats who think and act in a human-like manner even if they don’t speak to us. Still, a hardboiled detective who harks back to the likes of Sam Spade and Philip Marlowe is nothing but fun when said detective is a feline, especially when he tells his side of the story. In Louie’s own words—

Being short, dark, and handsome…really short…gets me overlooked and underestimated, which is what the savvy operative wants anyway. I am your perfect undercover guy. I also like to hunker down under the covers with my little doll. So would some other guys, but they do not have my lush hirsute advantages.

Public relations expert Temple Barr has met some crazy people in her time in Las Vegas but, in a city full of aggressive and flashy dream peddlers, Silas T. Farnum stands out in a crowd. That tip of the nomenclative hat to P. T. Barnum tells you a lot about who this little gnome of a man might be but Temple finds that he’s also sort of irresistible so she signs on to promote his UFO attraction. Unfortunately, the building site soon becomes a crime scene and the very subject of UFOs brings out the, er, nutjobs.  Meanwhile, Temple is also doing a juggling act with her former and current love interests and a serial killer with intent to do harm to them all may be back in town.

Midnight Louie, of course, is on the case from day one, even before Temple agrees to rep Farnum’s project, and his long experience with snooping and sniffing out the facts stands him in good stead. The Strip and the off-Strip are Louie’s territory and no one knows the city like he does but his efforts at getting answers are hampered somewhat by the continual intrusions of his so-called off-spring (plausible deniability!), Midnight Louise. Louise, who wants to follow in Pops’ footsteps, is on her own case but the two are intertwined so Louie reluctantly engages Louise and the two set out to solve the crime(s) with a little help from some temporary agents (the Cat Pack) and a few feathered friends.

One thing I especially like about this series is that time moves glacially. As a result, only two years plus have gone by since we first met Temple and Louie and, although that means they’re finding bodies and other criminal goings-on seemingly every month or so (shades of Cabot Cove!), that is perfectly okay with me. Sometimes, I want my sleuths to age along with me but there are also times when I’ll give up that nod to reality because it means I can hang on to my beloved characters as long as the author can keep writing their stories. I look forward to sharing many more adventures with this Las Vegas crew, furry and otherwise.

Reviewed by Lelia Taylor, August 2013.

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Two lucky readers will each win a hardcover copy of Cat in an Alien X-Ray

by Carole Nelson Douglas and you have two chances to enter the
drawing. For the first entry, go back and leave a comment on Carole’s

August 2nd guest post. For a second entry, leave a comment here on today’s
review. The winning names will be chosen at random on the  evening of Tuesday,
August 13th. This drawing is open to residents of the US, UK and Canada.