Catnap: A Midnight Louie Mystery
by Carole Nelson Douglas
Review by Paul Haggerty
Forge Books Mass Market ISBN/ITEM#: 0812516826
Date: 15 March, 1993 List Price $6.99 Amazon US / Amazon UK / Show Official Info /
Catnap by Carole Nelson Douglas is the first of the Midnight Louie Mystery series. Midnight Louis is a cat with major attitude, even more than you'd normally expect from one of his ilk. While obviously as intelligent as a human, he's still just a cat. He's isn't blessed with any magical powers or other special abilities, just a clear penetrating mind and the curiosity his species is famed for. The setting is Las Vegas, specifically the convention center where the American Book Association is setting up for their annual convention. There Temple Barr, Public Relations head for the Las Vegas Convention Center is going crazy trying to prepare for the onslaught of tens of thousands of book sellers, authors, agents, publicists, you name it. And right now her problem is a run-away cat. If only it had stayed that simple. Up one aisle and down the next, the black cat leads Temple on a while chase which ends, unfortunately in the back of one of the publisher's stalls, with Temple tripping over a body. Not the most auspicious way to open a convention weekend.
The victim, Chester Royal, was the head of a small imprint linked to the large publishing house of Reynolds/Chapter/Deuce. As the head of his little empire, Royal has a small set of authors on his string, a string he used to bind the authors up so tightly that he could pick their pockets with ease. Suffice it to say that Chester Royal was not a nice man, but he was good at what he did. So who could have killed him? One of his authors, someone from R/C/D, one of any number of rival publishers? There are 24,000 suspects, but little concrete motive, or perhaps too much.
Making matters more difficult and complex is the catnapping of two feline mascots (and namesakes) of Baker & Taylor, and the involvement of Lieutenant C.R. Molina, a police woman who still isn't satisfied with Temple's explanation concerning the mysterious disappearance of Temple's boyfriend, a stage magician who vanished as if by magic.
The book is narrated in turns by Temple and Midnight Louie, well mostly Temple, but Louie's are more unique. Think Sam Spade in fur, complete with the old "Doll" and "Dame" vocabulary. I don't think he ever calls a gun a "heater", but I'm sure that was just an oversight. And even knowing his limitations, Louie does his best to sniff out the clues and present the evidence to his new human partner. Trouble is she's a bit thick when it comes to taking advice from a cat. Still, one must persevere when forced to work with less competent partners.