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Feline sleuth Midnight Louie joins forces with his disapproving daughter, Midnight Louise, and his human partner, Temple Barr, to investigate a baffling series of murders of unidentified women, crimes that baffle tough homicide detective Carmen Molina. 25,000 first printing. Tour.
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Carole Nelson Douglas is the author of the bestselling Midnight Louie series, which include Cat in a Hot Pink Pursuit, Cat in a Neon Nightmare, Cat in a Midnight Choir, 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 resides in Fort Worth, Texas.Excerpt. © Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved.:
Like stars, Cyberspace only really came out at night.
That's what Max Kinsella thought anyway. Nine to five were not its prime-time working hours. It jived, and jammed, spammed, and buzzed like a beehive only after dark. The Internet was a hobbyist's highway, a global beltline jerry-built for enthusiasts and crooks and cranks.
The Net was better than magic, it was technology in irresponsible hands. Amateur Night at the Alhambra Cyber Cafe and Techno-Theater. Babel and the Byzantine Empire online. A Carnivale of commerce. It was all quite quirky, maddening, enchanting. Sometimes it was even dangerous.
Max stared at the large calligraphy letters wriggling like Technicolor worms on screen.
"To tell is to tempt Illusion. The Master Magician dissolves all doubts," Temple read from the screen aloud over his shoulder.
Another thing about the World Wide Web, Max thought. When it pulled you into its online orbit, you lost touch with where you were. Which in his case was up at two in the morning, hypnotized by a seventeen-inch monitor.
"Couldn't sleep?" Temple sounded endearingly sleepy herself, but even that wasn't enough to counter the siren lure of cyberspace. Especially when it had turned mysteriously personal.
So he didn't immediately answer her, merely spun around to boot up the second computer. She'd want to know what was going on anyway. He never forgot that she used to be a television news reporter, and that's an investigative job.
"When did you get that?" she wondered, yawning at the twenty-inch screen on his 500-megahertz model.
"Last week, when that other one started burping messages like that at me."
Temple leaned near the static seventeen-inch screen, the luminous image of wildly colored letters painting her red hair with blue-green punk-rocker streaks.
"Stained-glass threats," she said. Diagnosed. She was awake enough now to sound clinical.
"I think so too."
"That it's tacky to send poison-pen messages in calligraphic script via computer. Talk about mixed media."
"Sounds like the parchment stuff Gandolph was getting in the mail before he died. Or was killed. Whichever it was."
"But is this cybergram meant for Gandolph, or for you now?"
"I started using Gandolph's computer with his name and password, so it could be either."
Temple pulled a stool to the abandoned computer station.
"'The vagrant brother will be outcast into the Final Illusion.' Same old pseudo-antique gobbledegook. You think we should take these folks seriously?"
"I take anybody who enjoys long-distance harassment seriously. That's where serial killers come from."
"And major national governments," Temple added with the solemn twinkle of a satirist born.
Max was not twinkling back. He suddenly needed a change of mood--and topic. Poor Temple. And she'd once thought that consorting with an itinerant magician who worked nights was chaos enough. That was before she knew about his actual vocation.
Max checked his watch. "One of our favorite old movies is on. Why don't we explode some popcorn and forget about computers and cryptic messages for a while?"
"You mean there's a television set in this joint?"
"Is there a television set?" He knew that his tone of voice promised something truly wondrous in the way of TV sets; magicians were inclined to exaggerate and worry about living up to it afterward. "Let me show you to my parlor."
* * *
Fifteen minutes later they were ensconced on a massive tufted leather chair big enough for two across the room from a sixty-inch rear-projection TV, an equally oversize aluminum bowl of popcorn warming their laps. Douglas Fairbanks Jr. appeared to be literally jumping into those laps as the opening action scenes of The Fighting O'Flynn unreeled.
"This butter spray is great," Temple said, between the mouth-cramming that popcorn-eating demanded, "but this room is hardly a parlor."
"Den," Max amended amiably.
"Den is right. This chair is big enough for Papa Bear. I guess Baby Bear would get the footstool."
"No, we get the footstool." Max wiggled his stocking toes on the upholstered matching ottoman. "Baby Bear can camp outside."
Temple, now fully awake, snuggled beside him. For a while there was only the music-scored choreographed action of the movie's inspired swordplay and derring-do and the contented crunch of popcorn.
"It feels like we're back in Minneapolis again," Temple finally said, a bit astounded.
"You liked that, didn't you?"
"Yeah. I mean, the only exotic thing I knew about you then was your working hours. And everybody in the theater works nights."
Max rested his chin atop her head; that was the only time Temple ever felt that her hair was perfect the way it was, red and curly, just like little Shirley. Why couldn't she be a sleek, sultry, serious redhead, like Gillian Anderson on The X-Files? Of course, G. A. had bad legs, which was why she always wore pants and long coats, while Temple had what her gym teacher had called "dancer's legs." If only they had been about six inches longer....Women were reared to never be satisfied with themselves; it was an occupational hazard.
"Remember how we met?" Max's voice was rumbling above her head like a benign volcano.
"How can I forget? One of my stupidest moves ever. Passing like ships in the night in that hall at the theater, and then running aground."
"We both got whiplash turning to look back. What did you crash into? I collided with a potted ficus tree."
"How can you forget my limbo with the drinking fountain? That really hurt, almost more than the embarrassment."
"You still had a bruise the first time we made love."
"Guess it happened fast, huh?"
"Instantly, for me. I'd never been hit like that."
"Oh, come on. What about the Rose of Tralee in Ireland? She sure hasn't forgotten you."
"That's the problem. Now that you know about that, maybe you can understand why I've risked so much, including you, to keep our relationship going."
"How can a cute meeting in a Minneapolis theater compare with a foreign land, the Troubles, your first love?"
"My first loss," he corrected. "It can't. That's what makes what we have so special. With Sean killed, I discovered I'd lost my innocence in so many more ways than one. I felt Sean's death was God's punishment for sleeping with Kathleen."
"You've never said anything before about God in all this."
"I've tried to forget that stuff, because it's too grim to live with. That was what was so wonderful about meeting you. Something about you...I was back in high school again and had a chance to do it right. You are my first real love, Temple. You gave me my innocence back."
She didn't know what to say, which was just as well because she couldn't have spoken over the sudden thickening in her throat anyway. And she suddenly saw that he was right, now that she knew the whole story of his past. They had been giddy and so instantly and unreservedly in love, it had been like the first time. It was the first time, only this time for real. The crazy rented rooms near the theater in Minneapolis...finding a place as delightfully skewed here in Las Vegas as the Circle Ritz, a fifties-vintage round apartment building that seemed constructed like a stage set of Honeymoon Hotel just for them. They had even invested in the place together, dammit, like lovers with delusions of becoming a lawfully united couple someday soon.
Only someday soon came when Max had vanished without a word, leaving Temple single-handedly holding the mortgage payments and holding off inquisitive Lieutenant Molina, who was all suspicion and questions when it came to Max. Of course the dead body Max had left behind in the ceiling of the Goliath Hotel when he vanished on the last night of his magician's gig there hadn't helped Temple resist Molina's implications that Max was up to his magic wand in something deadly, maybe even murder...by him, or worse--his own attempted murder.
But their romantic past had remained a warm, fuzzy domestic dream no amount of current trauma could dislodge. That was what Temple had been fighting for, without knowing it, all the months that Max was so mysteriously gone, while Lieutenant Molina kept demanding explanations for Max's absence, and then for Temple's unswerving loyalty--dumb, feminine loyalty, to Molina.
But there was nothing reasonable about either reality, except how they had felt, from the first moment.
"Are you smiling, or crying?" he asked.
"Watch the movie," she ordered gruffly, through both teeth and tears. "It's one of our favorities."
It was, of course, and therefore thrilling and funny and very, very romantic. And the Fighting O'Flynn was Irish, but he fell in love with the English girl. The Irish girl was just comic relief.
Comic relief. Didn't Temple wish she could believe that was all the mysterious new woman in town, Kitty the Cutter, was...and ever had been?
Copyright©1999 by Carole Nelson Douglas
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Book Description Forge Books. Hardcover. Condition: New. 0312866356 Ships from Tennessee, usually the same or next day. Seller Inventory # Z0312866356ZN
Book Description Forge Books, 1999. Hardcover. Condition: New. Seller Inventory # DADAX0312866356
Book Description Forge Books, 1999. Condition: New. book. Seller Inventory # M0312866356
Book Description Forge Books, 1999. Hardcover. Condition: New. 1st. Ships with Tracking Number! INTERNATIONAL WORLDWIDE Shipping available. Buy with confidence, excellent customer service!. Seller Inventory # 0312866356n