Cat in a Neon Nightmare (Midnight Louie Series #15)

Cat in a Neon Nightmare (Midnight Louie Series #15)

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by Carole Nelson Douglas

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Cat in a Neon Nightmare is the fifteenth Midnight Louie mystery, and this tough-talking tomcat is as feisty as ever, raising hell (sometimes literally) in Las Vegas, America's Sin Capital.

The lavish hotels and the sham of wholesome fun may soothe the tourists, but sex and greed still fuel this town, and bad guys still abound. And Midnight Louie, the


Cat in a Neon Nightmare is the fifteenth Midnight Louie mystery, and this tough-talking tomcat is as feisty as ever, raising hell (sometimes literally) in Las Vegas, America's Sin Capital.

The lavish hotels and the sham of wholesome fun may soothe the tourists, but sex and greed still fuel this town, and bad guys still abound. And Midnight Louie, the feline Sam Spade has his paws full keeping those he loves safe
This time Midnight Louie treads the lurid side of mystery's mean streets when a call girl named Vassar is found lying dead on the neon ceiling above a Las Vegas casino. Suicide or homicide? If straight-arrow radio shrink Matt Devine, the man most likely to have been Vassar's unlikely last client, is charged for Vassar's murder, everyone Louie knows is an accessory to the crime . . . except for his ever-loving roommate, PR whiz Temple Barr, who has been kept in the dark by both friends and enemies.

To save Matt's future, Temple will have to crack the cover-up with the unsuspected help of Midnight Inc. Investigations, now including a junior partner: Louie's maybe-daughter, Midnight Louise. Meanwhile, a hot new club in town, Neon Nightmare, has links to the mysterious Synth, a sinister association of magicians that may lie behind the string of unsolved deaths that have haunted Louie Company for months.

And with the psychotic stalker, Kitty the Cutter, still prowling, death is definitely in the cards for someone Temple knows very well, and not even Louie may be able to stop it.

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
In the 15th entry (after 2002's Cat in a Midnight Choir) in Douglas's sprawling serial that always leaves another murder unsolved until the next installment, that cocky cool cat and "ace feline PI" Midnight Louie and his "erstwhile daughter," Miss Midnight Louise, add their own heroics to a potent brew of who-offed-who and who-loves-who. Last time out, a Stripper Killer was caught by the Circle Ritz gang, but Kitty "the Cutter" O'Connor escaped to keep stalking the object of her affection, "Mr. Midnight" Matt Devine, an ex- but still celibate priest/radio-talk-show counselor. Here, Vassar, the high-class call girl whom Devine picked to lose his virginity to before Kitty could do the deed, ends up dead after their tryst-on a Las Vegas hotel's casino area's "clear Lexan ceiling above the neon." Crack police lieutenant C.R. Molina suspects magician/counterterrorist "Mystifying Max" Kinsella, while Temple Barr, PR whiz and friend to both Devine and Kinsella, suspects Kitty-an over-the-top evildoer also connected to Kinsella's IRA past and perhaps even to the sinister Synth, an ancient magician's association that may have been responsible for the "death" of Kinsella's old mentor, Gandolph the Great. Subsequent volumes should tie up all the loose ends Douglas leaves in this light hybrid cocktail that's shaken, not stirred-and not for those who prefer their mysteries, well, straight up and feline-free. (May 7) Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information.
Kirkus Reviews
Finally, in the 15th escapade of Las Vegas p.r. flack Temple Barr and her know-it-all tomcat, Midnight Louie (Cat in a Midnight Choir, 2002, etc.), Douglas gets around to tying up most of the loose ends she's been carting from book to book. The first sign of knotted threads comes when radio talk-show host and former priest Matt Devine, in an attempt to thwart his obsessive stalking by renegade IRA operative Kitty the Cutter, checks into the gaudy Goliath Hotel, pays for a gorgeous call girl named Vassar, and plans on relieving himself of his innocence. Unfortunately, after Vassar leaves his room, she wanders to the atrium balcony and tips over. Suicide? Accident? Murder? Hoping to snare Max Kinsella, former spy, magician, and roommate of Temple, Lt. Carmen Molina takes on the case, but Max eludes her as he pursues the Synth, a dastardly group of magicians hanging out at the Neon Nightmare, a club with more secret passages than cats have lives. While Louie and his saucy kid Louise are chatting up birds in the atrium and tagging along after Max and Kitty, who collide on a desert highway, Matt is consumed by guilt and Temple totters around on impossibly high heels. Gandolph the Great, who's been dead for years, returns, and Louie's vain and wicked inamorata Yvette pops up on that atrium balcony. There'll be more Catholic soul-searching by Max, Matt, even Molina before the exequies for the series' archvillainess. The plot is silly and congested, and the cats so insufferably cute they'll make you run right out and buy a dog.
From the Publisher
"In the irresistibly witty Louie, [Douglas] creates a legendary sleuth who ranks right up with the greats—TravisMcGee in fur!" --Romantic Times

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Tom Doherty Associates
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Midnight Louie Series , #15
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Read an Excerpt

Chapter 1
Fallen Woman
She looked like a fashion model photographed by Helmut Newton for some slick, slightly sick ad in a fashion magazine.
Or like a butterfly pinned on a mosaic of fire opal.
Or like just another dead woman in the City that Never Sleeps--West Coast edition.
Lieutenant C. R. Molina gazed down at the gossamer straps attached to the extreme curve of a high-heeled, paper-thin sole dangling from the dead woman's bare big toe on one foot. Gucci or St. Laurent, probably. Talk about an upscale toe-tag. Grizzly Bahr would get a kick out of hearing that when he got the body.
Medical examiners got a kick out of things most people would consider grotesque.
"How are we gonna get the body off that?" came a disgusted male voice from behind her.
Alfonso had joined her in gazing at a victim ten feet below who was seemingly suspended on the intricate galaxy of neon that formed a ceiling for the hotel's vast gaming area.
The chatter, chimes, and clinks of Las Vegas games of chance drifted upward in the vast central atrium above the false neon ceiling, like sound effects from a faceless computer universe.
"There must be a clear Lexan ceiling above the neon," Molina guessed. "That's the only thing strong enough to resist extreme impact. Otherwise she'd have crashed right through the neon tubing down to the casino floor."
"Bullet-proof plastic. That's a security application."
"That's what the hotel needed. One kid on an upper floor dropping a BB could fatally bean a customer."
"Makes sense," Alfonso conceded. "I'll check to make sure."
"Any idea how far she fell, or how long she's been there?"
Alfonso shook his head like a doleful basset hound. He was one of those sloppy cops: fifty or sixty pounds overweight, baggy suit, mussed hair, puffy face, sleepy eyes set in a bezel of perpetually bruised skin. The package made him a very successful homicide detective. As with Peter Falk's Colombo, everybody always underestimated Alfonso.
Not Molina, who devoutly wished that someone other than the crack team of Alfonso and Barrett had been "up" for this case. Abie, they were called, as in Abie's Irish Rose. A.B.
"We'll have to treat it like a wilderness retrieval," she said. "Lower some techs down to record the scene, then bring the body up in a litter and go over it on solid ground."
Alfonso nodded and winced at the same time. "Depending on how far she fell, that could be like loading liquid shit into a beach pail."
Molina only winced internally. Cops and coroners had dirty jobs and found harsh words to describe them. Normally, the distancing techniques of pros at scenes of crime and dissolution didn't bother her, but normally she didn't feel personally responsible for the dead body under discussion.
What was the subject's name? Probably a lavish phony, but they'd soon pry the Plain Jane moniker from beneath the façade. They almost always did, and the corpse almost always proved to be someone's not-so-darling little girl all grown up wrong. This one looked like a solid-gold success, even after the rough hands of death. She had been a Vanity Fair woman: long, elegant, impossibly thin and impossibly busty--Molina would bet on implants--dressed to kill. Or to be killed.
"The staff know her?" she asked Alfonso, although she suspected the answer.
"Too well," he said, acting the usual morose when he wasn't being downright lugubrious. "One of the hotel's top call girls. High-rollers all the way. Or at least fat money rolls."
Molina looked up, past the building's gaudy neon-rimmed ribs to the soaring true ceiling maybe twenty floors above. "So she was a penthouse suite sweetie."
He nodded. "I hate these cases: JFP. Jumped, fell, or pushed. Damn hard to prove, any which way but dead."
"Yeah." Molina's nerves unclenched a little. Bad as the situation was, Alfonso was right: damn hard to prove what she privately called an ASH: accident, suicide, or homicide. "So you haven't pinned her to a room number yet?" she asked.
"Barrett's still on it, questioning staff. Trouble is, the lady was such a regular that they didn't even bother to notice which rooms, which night."
"She looks like she could have made money enough doing something legit," Molina mused. She was no fashion maven, but she recognized the expensive flair that clothed the twisted body. Why not model? Or act? Why hook?
Who could answer why women who could ride in limos on their looks so often ankled over to the shady side of the street? They might have thought the money was better, but breaking out in legitimate modeling paid off massively for the few dozen who made it. Maybe an underlying self-hatred? Lately Molina was getting a bit too comfy with that feeling, but she wasn't about to turn tricks to deal with it.
Alfonso nodded, still gazing soulfully above them with his hound-dog eyes. "That Barrett! You'd think he was in the cast of Rescue 51."
Just then, as if summoned, Alfonso's partner, thin and bony, leaned over the sixth-floor balustrade, directing a tech team that was descending from a wire stretched across the atrium's architectural chasm.
"Randolph Mantooth, where are you?" Molina muttered, watching their herky-jerky progress.
"Your kid watch those old reruns too?" Alfonso asked.
"Kids today! Growing up on yesterday."
She nodded, too intent on observing the shaky operation to comment. She had no time to watch TV, or reruns of long-cold TV shows. Being twelve-year-old Mariah's mother kept her current, but not much.
"Just how old is the Goliath?" she asked suddenly. "You'd think they'd know not to design interior atriums in a town where people lose their shirts and their self-respect every day and night. This is no place for Hyatt-style hotels enamored of atriums."
Alfonso nodded, smiling fondly. He was a native. He loved every manifestation of the city's phenomenal entertainment explosion along the Strip, like a research scientist enamored of cancer growth.
"Yeah," he said, "they didn't worry as much about divers in the old days. Maybe what, gosh, twenty years ago? The exterior balcony doors at this hotel didn't used to be sealed shut, but they are now."
"So this was the only way to fall," Molina said. "Inside straight, so to speak. Over the internal atrium edge. Or to be pushed. Who spotted her?"
"Some ma and pa tourist couple on fourteen, waiting for an elevator and ambling to the edge to be brave and look over. Took her for part of the design at first."
Molina had to agree. Well-dressed supine women always looked decorative, or sexy, or decadent. Or dead. The functions seemed interchangeable. She'd seen a lot of dead and never had found it decorative or sexy or even glamourously decadent. So shoot her.
They were shooting the woman below now. From every angle, videotape and still camera. She was a featured player on Dead TV and soon she'd be a star on Grizzly Bahr's stainless-steel autopsy table while he droned the dreary statistics of her internal organs and external injuries into a microphone for an audience of one. Himself.
"Mine eyes dazzle," Alfonso murmured, his hangdog countenance even droopier as they both blinked at the flashes illuminating the dead woman like heat lightning.
"Huh?" Molina stared at him as if he were a stranger.
He jerked her a weak grin. "'She died young.' That's the rest of the line. Webster. Elizabethan playwright. Grim guy."
"Webster? I thought he was the dictionary guy. Elizabethan? You?"
"You can't help what sticks in your head in this job," he said, shrugging. "There are a lot of pretty women in Las Vegas who die, and we gotta be there. 'Pretty Woman.' Roy Orbison. Greatest singer since Elvis."
That was another subject Molina couldn't stand, not since becoming involved with the Circle Ritz gang.
Who would think that ditsy, sixty-plus landlady Electra Lark could have assembled so many usual suspects under the fifties-vintage roof of the round condo-cum-apartment building she called the Circle Ritz? Not only former resident magician Max Kinsella, Mr. Now-you-see-him, Now-you-don't, was possibly involved in a murder, or three, but now, as of last night, so was Matt Devine, Mr. Altar-Boy Straight Arrow. Not to mention the object of their joint affections, Miss Temple Barr, who confused being a public relations freelancer with imitations of Nancy Drew! Molina just wished Temple Barr, P.R., as her business card read, would decide which of the two apparently shady Circle Ritz men was on her personal Most Wanted list.
And now Molina herself was involved with the whole crew both professionally, and, on unhappy occasion, personally.
Involved. The word chilled her as many much harsher ones couldn't. Speaking of which, there was a nasty task she couldn't put off any longer.
She took a last long look at the dead woman. This was as good as this Jane Doe would ever look before she was dissected like a frog princess, unless someone sprung for a casket funeral and they sutured and shined her up to surface beauty again, but Molina doubted anyone would bother.
Molina's eyes dazzled all right, but in Las Vegas that was just part of the eternal illusion for suckers to sop up and she wasn't buying anything on face value.
The woman lying on the neon net below, though, had indeed died young, and Molina was horribly, terribly afraid that it was her fault.
Copyright © 2003 by Carole Nelson Douglas

Meet the Author

Carole Nelson Douglas is the author of the bestselling Midnight Louie series, which includes Cat in a Midnight Choir, Cat in a Leopard Spot, Cat in a Kiwi Con, and many more. She is also the author of the historical suspense series featuring Irene Adler, the only woman ever to have "outwitted" Sherlock Holmes. She lives in Fort Worth, Texas.

In addition to tales of Midnight Louie, Carole Nelson Douglas is also the author of the historical suspense series featuring Irene Adler, the only woman ever to have “outwitted” Sherlock Holmes. Douglas resides in Fort Worth, Texas.

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Cat in a Neon Nightmare (Midnight Louie Series #15) 4 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 4 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Midnight Louis, Las Vegas, mysteries to be solved and a charming cast of characters! A very entertaining series that keeps you eagerly awaiting the next book! I would highly recommend starting at the beginning for maximum enjoyment. Midnight Louis is the feline version of Sam Spade, such a character!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
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harstan More than 1 year ago
Las Vegas public relations expert Temple Barr has been involved in several recent homicide investigations. Helping her besides her feline bodyguard Louie is her lover Max Kinsella (a magician and part-time counter terrorist operative) and ex-priest Matthew Devine. Matt has also been stalked and threatened by Kathleen O¿Connor an IRA agent, who wants his virginity in exchange for leaving him and the females in his life alone. Max, who was once Kathleen¿s lover, and Lt. Carman Molina of the Las Vegas Police Department tell him to have sex with a high priced call girl so that he wouldn¿t be of any value to his stalker anymore........... He takes their advice and when he leaves the room, the hooker was very much alive. When Molina sees her she is dead and she knows Matt is the last person to see her alive. Molina suffers a crisis of conscience because she has to think of him as a suspect even though she doesn¿t want her personal life to spill over into her professional one. Meanwhile Max is busy infiltrating the Synth, a cabal of magicians who might be responsible for the murder attempts on him, Matt and Temple. Midnight Louie saves Max¿s life from an old enemy with a long grudge........ Temple Barr, who is usually center stage in the Midnight Louis novels, plays a secondary role in CAT IN A NEON NIGHTMARE. The spotlight shines on Max who must come to terms with his own feelings of guilt. Midnight Louis is the true hero of this tale as he saves a life and guards the two men who are an integral part of his human¿s life. This book is the cat¿s meow........... Harriet Klausner