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    CAT IN A LEOPARD SPOT by Carole Nelson Douglas (see her website)


    Forge, Tom Doherty Associates, April 2001

    Mysterious Max is back in Temple Barr's life, but all is not well in the complex world of Midnight Louie. A woman is trying to steal Matt Devine's soul and threatening all of the women in his life, the Synth has kidnapped the Cloaked Conjuror's trained leopard, and someone is strangling Las Vegas strippers. Even Midnight Louie (a cat who thinks he is a private investigator) has his own problems steming from his desire to keep Temple alive, rid her of Max, and solve the catnapping while denying the possibility of any paternal responsibility for his new sidekick, Midnight Louise.

    Max uses Temple as a stalking horse as he tries to find the missing leopard, investigating an illegal hunt-for-hire operation that provides hunting trophies without the need to travel to Africa. Louie pursues a parallel investigation with the help of his 'daughter' and two terriers. Meanwhile, Max is also working on the mystery of the strangled strippers--and putting himself in the way of police Lieutenant Molina who would just as soon arrest Max as the real killer.

    Fans of the Midnight Louie series won't want to miss Midnight Louie at his most heroic and active. In fact, Louie's first person segments are the high points of this confusing novel. With both the series ongoing mystery (involving the strangled strippers) and the self-contained mystery of the novel (the big game cats), the evil Synth, the evil Kitty the Cutter, and Matt's ever ambiguous feelings toward Janice, Temple, and Molina, there is simply too much going on in this novel to give any subplot full justice. The characters as well receive short shrift. Temple, in particular, barely receives any attention in CAT IN A LEOPARD SPOT. Matt, Max, and Molina, along with Louie, carry the action forward.

    Douglas (see other reviews of novels by this author) does bring forward several intriguing ethical issues including abuse of women, ethical treatment of animals, and the role of high heeled shoes in a woman's wardrobe. It is to her credit that she is able to balance these heavy topics in a novel about a cat private investigator.

    Two Stars

    Purchase CAT IN A LEOPARD SPOT from (hardback).