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Cat in an Alien X-Ray
by Carole Nelson Douglas
Tor Forge, $24.99, 347pp
Release Date: August 6, 2013
This is the latest in a looong series about a black cat named Midnight Louie. Ms Douglas has been writing about Louie since her first book Catnap back in 1992. This is number 26. Quite an impressive – and intimidating – number of books. But if you enjoy a good mystery, with attractive characters, and the ubiquitous Midnight Louie, then it isn’t too late to get in on this good thing.

Continuing the story that I now believe stretches back several novels, the psychotic madwoman, Kathleen O’Connor, is still stalking Max Kinsella, and, by extension, Matt Devine and Temple Barr, the soon-to-be happy couple. Matt, in his role as counselor, is attempting a new tack – finding the real Kathleen, if she still exists, and disarming her murderous intent towards Max and those around him, including, of course, the lovely Temple whom both men have loved. Probing the psyche of a seriously damaged person such as Kathleen is tricky work and could rebound on Matt at any moment. But it’s all he can think to do to protect Temple .

In the meantime, Temple still has her unsolved crime list and bodies continue to mount…or fall from the sky. Her attention is now on either aliens or mobsters, both of which are not thought to exist on the Strip. She is engaged as a PR person by a quirky little man who promises he has The Next Big Thing for Las Vegas but is he really opening a new casino or is it a mask for more nefarious dealings? And his activities have everyone on the Strip believing – or sightseeing the believers – in UFOs. Only Louie and the Cat Pack seem to see things as they really are but even they can’t be in all places all the time, although it seems so at the time.

Molina, the daytime persona of a hard-boiled police detective (when she isn’t being Carmen, the lounge singer) has come to accept that Temple and her cat are often her best source of information, and her relationship with Max is progressing, albeit slowly. But even she doesn’t see the whole picture. Her focus is on the apparent reappearance of mobsters in Vegas, when most people accept the idea that they belong only in museums.

Max is still struggling with his missing memories although one or two significant items have popped back in. Aside from doing his own undercover work to find and restrain Kathleen and protect Matt and Temple , I don’t see the author moving him towards anything resembling a real life. There are some tantalizing moments with Molina but unsatisfying. He does have a new girlfriend who seems too good to be true and will be, I predict, the source of more mystery in the future.

And even Louie has a new mystery to confound him – the annoying Karma pulls a Cheshire-cat on him. Could all of her cats-as-mystics rhetoric actually be true?

So, while the mystery of the two new bodies is finally solved, the past still remains on Temple ’s unfinished crime list. Max still doesn’t know exactly what or who he was. And Kathleen O’Connor isn’t done yet. ~~ Catherine Book

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