Temple Barr, publicist extraordinaire, is itching to bring off her most dangerous and exciting assignment, helping to launch an endeavor that many a Vegas showmen have dreamed of: a Las Vegas mob museum/casino.
While city powers-that-be hem and haw over doing an official project on the subject, the Family Fontana plans to connect two hotels with a "Chunnel of Crime" featuring an underground speakeasy, a fast "ride" through Vegas crime history by Gangsters custom limo sevice, and other fun attractions.
Temple's grand scheme to do a live "opening Bugsy Siegel's vault" media event built around a huge safe found buried underground produces a two-day-old body wearing white tie and tails.
With Temple's magician-counterterrorist ex-lover, Max, gone missing and her new fiance, radio shrink Matt Devine, in Chicago for week-long media gig, Temple must depend on "the Vegas Strip Irregulars," a posse of cats, to solve murders old and new that smack of mobs vintage and all too contemporary. Success, or failure, could cost Temple her life, and all nine of Louie's.
About the Author
Cat in a Ultramarine Scheme is the twenty-second title in Carole Nelson Douglas's sassy Midnight Louie mystery series. Previous titles include Cat in a Topaz Tango, Cat in a Sapphire Slipper, and Cat in a Red Hot Rage. In addition to tales of her favorite feline, 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.
Read an Excerpt
Cat in an Ultramarine Scheme
A Midnight Louie Mystery
By Carole Nelson Douglas
Tom Doherty AssociatesCopyright © 2010 Carole Nelson Douglas
All rights reserved.
"Danny Dove really gave you a great view from your bed," Temple told Matt, snuggling into his shoulder. "I didn't realize that, seeing this room from the outside in."
"I'm glad we're both seeing it from the inside out too," he answered. "Sorry we have to do the 'Early Show' routine, though."
"With cable and DVDs, what does it matter? Dinner at eight, movie at nine, and you're on your way to WCOO-FM for your Midnight Hour show at eleven."
"Leaving you alone to creep downstairs to your unit, and only a cat for company."
"Don't let Louie hear you describing him as 'only a cat'!"
"Somebody needs to trim his overgrown feline ego. I have to admit that his shenanigans have inadvertently helped save your life, for which I'm thankful."
Matt expressed his gratitude by kissing her thoroughly enough to make her toes curl. "He's welcome to leave black hairs on Danny's precious damask coverlet up here anytime."
"Not necessary," Temple said. "Louie considers the bed downstairs his."
"You mean, when we marry, we'll have to take that California king-size bed along to our new joint residence?"
Temple understood that the bed she'd shared with Louie — and Max Kinsella — might not make a terrific house warming item.
"Maybe I'll just take the zebra-pattern coverlet Louie loves and looks so good on."
"I doubt Danny would approve."
"Danny may have updated your monk's cell to an Architectural Digest playboy pad, but he's not going to be sleeping in our future house. Have you thought where you'd like to move? Golf course view?" Matt made a face. "Mountainside or Strip view?" He shook his head. "Water view?"
"Wasteful in this climate."
"Church view, like Molina's place?"
"No." He was laughing. "We need to think of other things than moving first."
"For starters, I have some news."
"News!" Temple muted the movie and sat up in bed.
"Easy, ex-newshound. It's nothing major. It's actually a bit annoying for a newly engaged woman. I have a week of vacation coming up —"
"And you didn't tell me? We could join Kit and Aldo in Italy!"
"I'm not intruding on someone's honeymoon."
"I'm sure most of the honeymooning must be done by now. They're coming home in a week or so."
"Temple, I can't go to Italy. I can't go anywhere with you. This was set up before we were us."
"Oh? So it involves another woman?"
He grinned sheepishly. "As a matter of fact, it does."
"Ah!" Temple inhaled in mock indignation.
"Several, in fact."
"Beast!" She pounded just as mockingly on his shoulder and chest.
"But it might serve our larger purpose very well."
"Oh, that's different. Go on. What did you have to keep so secret?"
"It's not secret; I just forgot about it in the recent excitement."
"This recent excitement?" Temple prodded.
Matt ran a hand through his tousled hair. "Not that recent. I mean the threats on our lives and our mad, impetuous engagement preceding them."
"Ha! You're about as impetuous as a tortoise, so I believe you when you say this me-less vacation was on the books for some time. Where are you going?"
"Ah. No doubt you'll be breaking the news about me to the family?"
"Yes, but that'll be the least of my worries."
"'Worries'? Marrying me is a worry?"
"Not you. The idea. My family saw me as a priest for almost half my life. And it's taken my mother most of my whole life to recover from having me out of wedlock."
"I would have you out of wedlock anytime," Temple said soberly.
"You are," he pointed out. "Am I glad I ran into that ex-priests' group when I was helping you investigate one of those murders you feel compelled to help solve. They made me see the spirit of the canon law is more important than the letter of it."
"I keep forgetting I'm a ... 'near occasion of sin'— isn't that the terminology?"
Matt frowned, sounding stern. "You didn't get that from me. Who told you that?"
"The Unitarian Universalist minister I consulted," Temple admitted.
"You saw a minister, about me?"
"No, about me. I needed to know what my being modern about putting the honeymoon before the wedding would do to your conscience. So I'm very happy you'll be seeing the old folks at home next week and preparing them. You didn't have to keep that from me, Matt. I'll understand if they want to reject me."
"No one who knows you would want to reject you."
There was a silence. Apparently, Temple thought, Max Kinsella had, or had at least vanished on her for the second time in their mysteriously interrupted three-year love affair.
"Not willingly," Matt added.
"Remarkably generous concession," Temple said.
He shrugged, which did great things for his swimmer's-strength upper torso, upon which Temple snuggled again.
"Okay. You're out of town for a week," she concluded. "Fans of The Midnight Hour will be besieging the station phone lines begging for the voice of their favorite radio late-night shrink. Louie will be hogging the entire other half of my condo bed. You'll be wrestling your large Polish family and pinning them down to offer you independence and support. We'll cope."
"I'm sure you will. I'll also be doing a week of The Amanda Show live."
"A whole week gig? Not just the occasional hour like you've been doing? And you leave your major-media promotion break to an afterthought? The Amanda Show is second only to Oprah."
"Oprah has a huge lead ... on everything. My relatives do get a huge kick out of me being on TV in their own backyards. I figure that will help them adjust to a soon-to-be married ex-priest in the family."
"Good," said Temple. "I'll try not to solve any murders without you."
Matt checked his watch. "I hate to kick my fiancée out of a warm bed, but the movie's over and I have to get ready for heading over to the radio station."
Temple yawned. "Do what you have to. I'm starting to feel like a lovesick teenager with a curfew," she grumbled. "Home by eleven. Yes, folks."
"I'm sure your parents would be very proud," Matt said as he bent to kiss her good night again, and vanished into the bathroom.
Temple retrieved her clothes and shoes from the bedside and gave a fond farewell look at the fifty-two-inch flat-screen television. She only had a thirty-seven-inch in her condo.
Of course, she also had Midnight Louie, when he deigned to sleep in nights, and he was an extra-large model cat.
Fifteen minutes later she was snuggled down in her own bed, Midnight Louie blissfully on his back on the other side, all four feet splayed in ludicrous disarray. Temple was sure he only unfurled his long, furry, soft underbelly here at home.
The Circle Ritz, like all fifties-vintage construction, was cramped by modern room-size standards, especially in the tiny, tile-lined bathrooms, only a bathtub wide, both of them. Still, Temple loved her petite living quarters. It was like living in a luxurious dollhouse surviving past its time. The thought of forsaking it for another place, for a freestanding house, made her a little sad.
But then, Max had rolled around alone in a big house when he returned to Vegas from his first disappearing act. Maybe it was more grown-up to live in a house rather than an apartment or condominium.
Maybe Temple was finally growing up, not just getting older and wiser.
She scratched Louie's tummy until he yawned to display his vast pink maw lined with white teeth and started purring like a Volkswagen motor.
Nobody who knew her would reject her.
Apparently Max had, despite himself, twice. Somehow Max was still showing up unexpectedly at the most awkward moments. In her mind.
Her heart told her she'd loved Max, but it had always been "despite" circumstances that never stopped keeping them apart. Her heart told her she'd remained faithful to their passionate past for so long, she'd almost missed falling in love with a uniquely wonderful guy who loved her to death. Or rather, until death did them part, and meant it.
That same heart told her that Max would have let her know if he was alive, somehow, if he was alive.
And, if not, he was a master magician. You'd think even then he'd have the chops and decency to let her know for sure that he was dead.CHAPTER 2
How Green Was My Valley
"Smog?" Max asked, staring out the Cessna's porthole window as the small twin-engine prop airplane approached Dublin.
"Ireland has smog now? Is that what the Celtic Tiger is thrashing its technological tail about? Is pollution what Ireland's acclaimed economic revival achieved?"
"Hmm. The fabled Irish landscape is awakening your memories." Garry Randolph leaned forward from his window seat behind Max. "I'm afraid poor old Ireland is the technological Celtic Pussycat since the recession. And, my boy, don't go all dismal and depressive. Can't you see that blur of green meeting the pale blue and pink horizon is nothing so rank and modern as smog, but the legendary Irish mist?"
"'Irish mist,'" Max mocked. "You're resorting to a stage brogue too? I can see why. Green fields and hedges ... silver ponds and rivers. The landscape below us is incredibly beautiful, an emerald harp strung with silver strings."
"I knew the Auld Sod would bring out the poet in you, Max."
Max snorted in reply. "Bring out the memoryless lunatic, more likely," he added after a moment.
Both men had to raise their voices over the drone of the Cessna's nearby engines, while the cottages and farmhouses — white with dark thatched roofs, like a patch of mushrooms — grew large.
No one could overhear them. The pilot was muttering little nothings about landing to the Dublin Airport control tower, where a man answered in the universal English of pilots, but with an Irish accent.
Max leaned nearer the tiny curtained window to view a lit Christmas tree–shaped grid of landing lights on the ground, pointing arrowlike to the runway. As the plane flew lower, the lights winked red and then green. Intimations of Christmas, Max thought, in an ancient druidic land seen through the mist. ...
The pastel dawn seemed a distant dream he and Garry were rushing headlong into. Maybe it was a metaphor for his lost memory, a pale purple haze of terror and delight awaiting him in this beautiful, so-long-troubled landscape.
In moments, runway lights were blinking past the Cessna's miniature window. A smooth landing led to a smoother taxi to a small hangar.
Max sensed that his six-foot-four frame always hungered to unkink from the plane seat and deplane. Here he had to duck considerably to exit, and navigate his injury-stiff legs down a steep, narrow, drop-down stairway.
He groaned at the bottom, waiting for his older, stouter friend.
"Tell me you didn't hire a Morris Mini," Max pleaded, wincing for his recently healed broken legs.
Garry slapped him on the arm. "Am I a secret sadist? Your lovely blonde shrink at the Swiss clinic is, perhaps. Gandolph the Great — never!"
"You were a magician," Max repeated. "They are basically tricksters. And someone presumed dead longer than I have been," he reminded him.
"We were magicians. Are still. Aaah." Garry inhaled the crisp morning air. "How do you feel about a Ford Mondeo?"
"A Ford Mon Dieu? I've never heard of it. So much forgotten."
"Getting frisky and funny and slightly profane now that you're on native soil, are we? My good lord, Max, you're back. A Mondeo is the across-the- pond version of the Ford Contour or the Mercury Mystique; the latter name I think better befits our mission. And you as well."
Max spotted the shiny black sedan and nodded glumly. "Serviceable and dull family four-door. Just what old undercover, presumed-dead magicians like us need. Plenty of game-leg room up front, I see."
"Ah, that's the old Max, yearning to go fast and furious. This is a journey into the past. Yours and Ireland's — and Northern Ireland's itself."
"And you naturally thought such a sentimental journey required a car of a funereal color?"
Max was surprised to see the upbeat old man's face grow sober.
"Max, you've just weathered a terrible physical ordeal, one that might have killed another man. And it's an immense psychological trauma to wake up an amnesiac. Yet a worse psychological trial awaits you. Take it one step at a time. You can't make a rabbit jump out of a top hat unless you first figure out how it got in."
"Did I really do that?"
"That corny rabbit trick?"
"No, my lad. You used doves. A cornucopia of doves."
Obviously Garry thrived on being mysterious.
Max sighed. "You keep hinting that this land is my land, but I'm obviously as American as hell." Max frowned. "Despite having a knack for vaudeville Irish accents. What kind of an Irish name is Max, anyway? It might be of German derivation, like the non-French part of the lovely Revienne Schneider."
Garry pursed his lips. "German? No. Never. You're American Irish through and through. We keep this secret also: how you became 'Max.' Your given birth names were Michael Aloysius Xavier."
"Quite a triad of antique saints and one major archangel. That's why you registered me as 'Michael Randolph' at the Swiss clinic! You thought I'd unconsciously respond more naturally to the name Michael. How long have I been 'Max' ?"
"Since you were seventeen."
"And how did that come about?"
"I rechristened you to save your life."
"What the hell? Why does a seventeen-year-old need his life saved?"
"Because you were a hell of a seventeen-year-old and you got three men killed. They deserved it, and you did it."
Max didn't answer that one. What an appalling past. Garry was right. TMI — too much information. Obviously, he needed to be spoon-fed the ugly truths. He strolled toward the Ford car, limping more than he liked after the flight and landing in the chilly Irish dawn. So an Irishman hankered for sunshine and heat? He seemed to. Or his legs did.
Max eyed the sedan from hood to taillights. "You expect me to drive this thing?"
"Yes, and on the left. It is at least an automatic."
"How do you know that?"
Food for thought. "That I prefer to drive stick shift? I don't know; isn't that my key problem? I know the general past. I know what I like. And don't like. I just don't know my own damn past. I can't recall what I did and where I was and with whom. Or whom I hated and whom I loved."
"We know you had a good high-school English teacher."
"Whom was the proper construction there, and you used it like some men swear. Frequently and fervently, without thinking about it. Relax, Max. Go through the motions and let your old self shine through bit by bit. I'm here. I'm your safety net."
Excerpted from Cat in an Ultramarine Scheme by Carole Nelson Douglas. Copyright © 2010 Carole Nelson Douglas. Excerpted by permission of Tom Doherty Associates.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.
Table of Contents
ContentsPreviously in Midnight Louie's Lives and Times ...,
Chapter 1: Magic Carpet,
Chapter 2: How Green Was My Valley,
Chapter 3: Broke New World,
Chapter 4: Where Louie Used To ...,
Chapter 5: Simply ... Artisto,
Chapter 6: Temptations of Temple Bar,
Chapter 7: Lights, Action,
Chapter 8: Lake Mean,
Chapter 9: Ganged Up,
Chapter 10: Spooky Suite,
Chapter 11: Merciless Tenders,
Chapter 12: Meow Mix,
Chapter 13: Dem Old Bones,
Chapter 14: Media Draw,
Chapter 15: The Guggenheim of Gangsters,
Chapter 16: A Rat in Time Saves Nine Lives,
Chapter 17: Love Connection,
Chapter 18: Whose Vault Is It?,
Chapter 19: Road to Ruin,
Chapter 20: Hoopla and Homicide,
Chapter 21: When a Body Meets a Body,
Chapter 22: Guess Who's Come to Dinner?,
Chapter 23: Bahr Bones,
Chapter 24: Synth You've Been Gone,
Chapter 25: A Ghost of a Clue,
Chapter 26: Motorpsycho Nightmare,
Chapter 27: Silent Partner,
Chapter 28: An Inspector Calls,
Chapter 29: Ringing Issues,
Chapter 30: Breakfast of Champions,
Chapter 31: The Vegas Cat Pack!,
Chapter 32: Bottoming Out,
Chapter 33: Synthesized,
Chapter 34: Dalai Lama Eyes,
Chapter 35: Room Disservice,
Chapter 36: Ladies' Neon Night Out,
Chapter 37: Playing It Koi,
Chapter 38: Drinkin' Bitter Beer,
Chapter 39: Guy Wire,
Chapter 40: Guns and Gravy,
Chapter 41: Getting Their Irish Up,
Chapter 42: Armed and Dead,
Chapter 43: Murder in 3-D,
Chapter 44: On Thin Ice,
Chapter 45: Da Denouement, Dudes,
Chapter 46: Closing Call,
Chapter 47: Moving Issues,
Tailpiece: Midnight Louie Decries Sex and Gore,
Tailpiece: Carole Nelson Douglas Meditates on Mobs,
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
If you have never enjoyed a midnight louie you are missing out...Fast paced and fun.
Public relations specialist Temple Barr is setting up a campaign for the Fontana family to take advantage of Las Vegas' mob roots. The "Chunnel of Crime" is a monorail within a museum connecting two hotels. During a promotional event, an underground vault is opened for the first time in years. Temple and her clients hope to find buried gangster loot instead of what was found in Capone's vault. Instead, they find something worse to accentuate the gangster past. Inside is the corpse of former magician Cosimo Sparks. Someone stabbed him and buried him. Temple accompanied by her pet owner Midnight Louie investigates; as does the Fontana family and the police. At the same time, Temple and Louie make inquiries, her fiancé radio star Matt Devine is in Chicago. Her "dead" ex, magician/counterterrorist Max Kinsella, is in Ireland suffering from amnesia but cared for by Garry "Gandolph the Great" Randolph as he seeks information on the late orphan Kathleen "Kitty the Cutter" O'Connor. In his twenty-second starring appearance (see Cat in a Topaz Tango), Midnight Louie remains fresh and amusing as if he was working with his human pet on their first case (see 1993's Catnap). The twisting story line is fast-paced as Temple relies on Midnight Louie's posse the Vegas Strip Irregulars to solve the homicides. This is a terrific entry as fans of the series will believe rascally lovable Louie has several lives left. Harriet Klausner
The Fontana boys are back! And of course Midnight Louie is always present to add his perspective or shall I say "purrspective" to the tale. Another hit, one of the best!
I really enjoyed reading this book. All the historical background is included without being boring or breaking up the action. Love the additional cats!
Midnight Louie is one of my two favorite feline sleuths (Joe Grey is the other one). This is another good item in the series.
The "mystery" is a little weak - but this installment in the ongoing saga of the slinky supersleuth is still entertaining. And the ongoing stories of the human characters make this a 'don't miss' for fans of the series. "ultramarine" may be reaching a little....
This time the plot is hard to follow. The characters are not developed as well as her earlier Midnight Louie stories. The ending leaves the reader in limbo.