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Midnight Louie, alley-cat extraordinaire and Las Vegas’s hairiest, hard-boiled PI, finds himself literally walking a tightrope when a fabulous museum opening at one of Sin City’s swankiest casinos is marred by a little thing like death.
Louie's loyal roommate, feisty PR freelancer Temple Barr, has snagged the commission of her career: repping the opening exhibition of the Russian Czars' priceless treasures at the New Millennium Hotel, the apex of which is the Czar Alexander Scepter, a priceless jewel-encrusted artifact.
Trouble is, the hotel has booked an aerial magic act right above the exhibition.
Temple works at a breakneck pace to coordinate this logistical nightmare. Tragedy ensues when a performer dies right above where the collection will be displayed and the police threaten to shut everything down. But the word “no” isn’t one heard often in Las Vegas when money is involved and the show (or shows) must go on. Just as things seem to be working perfectly, another performer dies...and the scepter vanishes. The culprits could be international art thieves, Russian mafioso, or Chechen rebels out to embarrass the current Russian government.
Or it could be someone else, perhaps someone Temple knows all too well . . . .
Temple and Louie both have enemies in the magic act--evil magician Shangri-La and her curare-nailed performing Siamese cat, Hyacinth--and on the ground--ever-suspicious homicide lieutenant Carmen Molina, who's itching to pin the heist and murders on Temple's significant other, ex-magician and sometimes ex-spy Max Kinsella, now oddly AWOL. Worse, as Temple and Louie's separate investigations bring them both close to the truth, it's clear that someone has decided to hang them out to die too.
Can fancy footwork and detection save our intrepid duo?
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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.
Swept Off Her Feet
Temple Barr woke up at 10:30 a.m. in her own bed, which was hardly unusual, and supposed that there wasn't a woman in America who didn't ache for one of those Scarlett O'Hara moments.
Maybe it was Scarlett swearing to heaven that she'd never have to choke down another raw turnip (or broccoli or cauliflower floret...or diet book) again.
Maybe it was the spunky freshman Scarlett, telling that blind-stupid Ashley Wilkes right out that he ought to be dating her instead of some wimpy prom queen from the next plantation down along the Sewanee.
Maybe it was Scarlett cornered on the stairs of Tara shooting an attacking Yankee soldier dead.
Or Scarlett in any of the dazzling fashion-show gowns in which she schemed, fought, and flounced her way through the Civil War and its aftermath...especially the gutsy gown made from green velvet drapes she wore to convince a jailed Rhett Butler that she wasn't down and out when she was.
But the most perfect Scarlett moment of all involved the crimson velvet dressing gown she wore as Rhett carried her upstairs when he'd had it with her fickle, bewitching, bitching Scarlett ways.
Feminists long removed from the 1930s debut of Margaret Mitchell's Gone with the Wind choked on their turnips over that scene, which to modern sensibilities plays like date rape---or, in that case, wife rape.
But no matter how a woman might land on the swept-upstairs-scene issue, she couldn't fault the famous morning-after scene.
What a wake-up call! That was when Vivien Leigh's Scarlet awoke in a cat-contented camera close-up. When her eyes recalled the-night-before-the-morning-after with the devilish satisfaction of a distinctly un-downtrodden Southern belle indeed....
Temple awoke this day to one of those classic dawning moments. It made her world take an unexpected lurch toward a totally different axis than it had previously been twirling around like a ballerina in a well-known routine.
Oh. Right. Yes. Oh. My. Oh. Dear. Oh!
Because all morning-afters have their down as well as their up sides, and Temple was starting to see that. It didn't help that Midnight Louie, all fully furred twenty pounds of him, was sitting on her chest like a guilty conscience, staring at her with unblinking feline-green eyes.
His mesmerizing eyes and shiny black hair reminded her that she was betrothed (as much as you could be in a modern world) to raven-haired Max Kinsella, a magician on hiatus. Louie's watchful presence also reminded her that Louie had been on patrol in the apartment early this morning when she'd returned from her supposedly bland dinner date with neighbor Matt Devine, during which certain overly neighborly things had occurred and mention had been made of the M-word: marriage.
Louie knew. Somehow.
And that gloriously green stare said that he understood every miserable nuance of her now hopelessly complicated love life. And that he did not approve.
Neither, she knew, would Max.
Copyright © 2006 by Carole Nelson Douglas
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