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Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Cat in a Red Hot Rage

***** Cat in a Red Hot Rage by Carole Nelson Douglas. Mystery.

I can't believe I waited to read this until the book after the book after this was out already. Particularly since this is one of my absolute favorite series. One good thing about it, though--I didn't have to wait to read the next book. I am a bit on pins and needles waiting for Barnes & Noble to deliver the most recent one, though. The series story is getting pretty darn suspenseful and I suspect the new one will go straight to the read-now pile.

If you haven't read any of this series yet, here's a thumbnail sketch: Temple Barr does PR for the Crystal Phoenix hotel in Las Vegas. She ends up solving a lot of murders with the help of Midnight Louie, a cat who writes some of the chapters in the books. She's also been involved in a romantic triangle with magician/secret agent Max and ex-priest/radio counselor Matt. Each book has a mystery, but there's also an ongoing story in the series, so I'd highly suggest reading them in order: Catnap, Pussyfoot, then colors in alphabetical order from Cat on a Blue Monday through Cat in a Topaz Tango.

It occurs to me that even though I'm avoiding spoilers for this book, even the beginning situation is spoilery for previous books. So if you want to avoid spoilers for previous books, stop here until you catch up.

The "Red Hot Rage" in the title refers to the Red Hat Sisterhood convention taking place at the Crystal Phoenix. Temple's landlady Electra discovers a murder, and the victim just happens to be "the other woman" who married one of Electra's ex-husbands. Molina's busy investigating Max's disappearance, so it's Su and Alch on the scene, and Su is ready to throw the book at Electra. So it's up to Temple to find out whodunit.

It's complicated, of course. There's a reporter running around with a hidden agenda, and Electra's ex-husband shows up with some other disgruntled men to protest the Red Hats. It's a PR nightmare, so Temple's up to her neck in trouble.

It's not quite enough to keep her mind off her personal life, though. She's deliriously happy with Matt, but it's hard to move on when she can't talk to the missing Max personally. Temple's aunt Kit is still in town, and getting serious with Aldo, the eldest Fontana brother.

And of course there's Midnight Louie and his (unacknowledged) daughter Midnight Louise. Louie is all for helping Temple solve the murder, but Louise thinks enough people are working on that problem, and she's trying to find out what happened to Max.

Even with all that's going on, the story doesn't feel cluttered or confusing, and plenty of page space is given to character development. Matt's emotions in particular are very clear. He's such a wonderful blend of confidence and insecurity, and it's lovely to see how that confidence has increased over the course of the series. Temple is even more complex, and I love the realistic hints that as much as she loves Matt, she's still a tiny bit concerned that she's his first.

I also love that we learn more about landlady Electra Lark. In this book, she becomes a lot more three-dimensional, once we find out a little of how she became the free spirit she is now.

Actually, I'm glad this was still languishing in my TBR pile, because I'd been in a reading slump for a while--I kept picking up books and finding them too easy to put down. Cat in a Red Hot Rage was just the opposite--nearly impossible to put down. I'm only glad I didn't end up dropping it while I was reading it in the tub!

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You're in a reading slump?! Nooo, say itn't so! ;)

This book sound like a good mystery. Is it told in first person?
Well, the reading slump seems to be easing now--thank goodness. I'm still reading MUCH more slowly than usual, though--I've just been way too busy.

Midnight Louie's chapters are told in first person, but the bulk of the book is in third.
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