I don't like cats.
There, I said it. I'm a dog guy. But I'd be hard-pressed to find many detective novels that have dogs as major characters. When writers sit down to write their cozies, it seems that cats are favoured. It's because of their mercurial nature, of course. You can't COUNT on cats, so they can do anything the writer wants them to at key times. Reluctantly, I started following the exploits of one certain cat about fifteen years ago. Midnight Louie.
And now, I have most of the books in the series written by Carole Nelson Douglas (or ghost-written, Midnight Louie would claim). I'm up to the seventeenth book, Cat in a Hot Pink Pursuit, with five or six somewhere deeper in the stack.
Part of the charm, (ALL of it if you ask me) of these books is Louie's human companion, one petite PR ace by the great name of Temple Barr. Barr works in Las Vegas, the home of many, many stories, as the long-running CSI series will attest. People die there in interesting ways. And, I point out, Barr's been accidentally figuring the crimes out for longer than CSI has been on the air. Which brings me to a point. Douglas is STILL finding new and interesting predicaments to place Barr in. And what's better, there's precious little of Max Kinsella and Matt Devine in this book. I sort of like the Barr-Louie team without the encumbrances of a love triangle.
On the other hand, looms Lt. C.R. Molina, a cop who doesn't quite find Barr as adorable as the other two gents. Reversing back to the first hand, Molina sort of needs Barr. She's the only adult she knows that could pass for a teen. That's important because her daughter Mariah is in a local TV production of a teen beauty pageant, one beset with problems, not the least of which is the local presence of Mariah's father, a known not-nice guy. And it's about to get worse. Temple and Midnight Louie join up just in time for the bodies to start dropping.
The TV show is called Tween and Teen Queen and Mariah is in the younger division. Soon, Temple gets all dolled up and joins the older group, plus takes on the job of Mariah's protector and confidante. Without mentioning Molina the Elder's involvement. Now, by dolled up, I mean punked out. Temple's not there to win, and tries to ensure that by going leather, piercing (fake) and tattoos (fake of course) with a new dye job for her usual titian locks. She enters the contest as the raven-haired Xoe Chloe.
This being a Midnight Louie case, you can be sure of two things. One, we get murders. Not too many, not too few. Just right for these usually light-weight novels with a penchant for (gallows) humour. Secondly, the story gets inset chapters from Midnight Louie's point of view. And in this book, just about all of Louie's extended family of daughter, lover and would-be lovers shows up. It's as hokey as heck, but Douglas makes this all work. Remember, I'm reading the SEVENTEENTH book in this series.
When all is said and done, Temple and Matt are making cooing noises and Mariah is a pretty happy tween. Mother Molina isn't too bad off, although some of her secrets have been shed, too. Midnight Louie? He's more or less happy to have survived the confluence of concubines.
Nothing wrong with that.