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Monday, October 05, 2009

Cat in a Sapphire Slipper

***** Cat in a Sapphire Slipper by Carole Nelson Douglas. Mystery.

You know once I finished Cat in a Red Hot Rage, I couldn't make myself wait for the next book. And Cat in a Sapphire Slipper did not disappoint. I swear, I love this series more with each book. If you're unfamiliar with the Midnight Louie series, click on the link above--I put a mini-summary of the series in my review.

This time, the action moves slightly outside Las Vegas--to a brothel called the Sapphire Slipper. Temple's aunt Kit and eldest Fontana brother Aldo are getting married, and all the Fontana brothers plus their uncle and Matt Devine (Temple's fiance) are heading to Aldo's (planned-to-be fairly tame) bachelor party at a local strip club when their limo drops them off at the brothel way out of town. The limo driver had been replaced and they were abducted.

It soon becomes apparent that it's just a prank: now that Aldo's getting married, the other brothers' girlfriends decided to hold them all hostage for engagement rings of their own. Until a dead body shows up, murdered while Matt and Nicky Fontana (the only other married Fontana brother, and Temple's occasional employer--he owns the Crystal Phoenix) are hiding out upstairs, and Matt is actually in a hidden voyeur-room in the murder room. Only his ex-priestly scruples kept him from witnessing the murder.

Because the Fontanas are reputedly mob-connected, they're all hoping to get the murder solved before calling in the police... so they call Temple.

And of course Midnight Louie is on hand--or should that be paw?--to help untangle the mystery.

There are some very interesting developments in this book (and please don't read further unless you've either a. already read at least up to Cat in a Red Hot Rage or b. don't intend to read these at all, because while it's not a spoiler for this book, it is for previous books. Here--I'll give you a little spoiler space... ... ... ... ... ... ... ... ... ...
... ... ... ... ...
... ... ... ... ...
... ... ... ... ...
... ... ... ... ...
... ... ... ... ...
... ... ... ... ... )--Midnight Louie finds an old flame, and the big news is that Max shows up, alive, injured, and amnesiac, in a clinic somewhere in Europe. Not that any of the cast of characters back in Nevada are aware of this. Nor will they be for some time, I'm guessing.

The brothel setting made a wonderful backdrop to showcase ex-priest Matt, particularly when he's interviewing the "girls" to discover who the victim was and who might have had the motive and/or opportunity to kill her. His innate kindness shows through, but it's also apparent that it's difficult for him. He also does a little soul-searching when he realizes that he might have witnessed--or even prevented--the murder if he hadn't closed the two-way mirror in an effort to give privacy to what he assumed would be one of the Fontana brothers and his girlfriend having a little make-up party.

One thing that really struck me while reading Cat in a Sapphire Slipper is how well the characters' personalities and emotions are conveyed in very short bits of dialogue. It's something I've noticed subconsciously before, that the dialogue in this series isn't very drawn-out, but I still feel as though I know these characters, and that they're real. Truly a nice job of wordsmithing, and one that's appreciated, albeit belatedly.

Fortunately, Cat in a Topaz Tango arrived in the mail on Friday, and with only a momentary qualm for all the books that have been waiting forever in TBR-pile-limbo, I started reading it right away. I haven't finished it yet, but I think it's safe to say that the streak (of loving the series more with each book) is still going strong.

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