Print Friendly, PDF & Email

Cat in an Alien X-RayBy Midnight Louie, PI

Aliens descending on Las Vegas? That is hardly news to anyone familiar with the exotic sights on the Las Vegas Strip. In CAT IN AN ALIEN X-RAY, hovering UFOs have been caught on tourist cell-phone cameras, and the unveiling of a new “Area 54” Strip attraction comes complete with its own dead body. Has an abducted human fallen back to earth? Or is this just the usual inhumanity to humans by humans?

While UFO nuts and conspiracy theorists mob the site, homicide lieutenant C.R. Molina must work with the project’s public relations woman, amateur sleuth Temple Barr. These two dames mix like olive oil and holy water. Not to mention that a vengeful former IRA terrorist is stalking Temple’s ex (the magician-counterterrorism agent) and current fiancé (the ex-priest radio shrink).

My co-author uses the phrase “cozy-noir” to describe our works. Here’s a handy summary of our modus operandi:

“So in this typically fun-filled, witty and comic Midnight Louie outing, Douglas tackles a multitude of serious and topical issues [including] sexual addiction and obsession, monogamy, celibacy, sexual responsibility and familial responsibility, theology, stalking, sanity and lack of same, honor and commitment, romantic triangles and rectangles, and the keeping of vows and trusts. No small accomplishment for a thoroughly entertaining mystery with occasional chapters ‘written’ by an anthropomorphic tough-guy private-eye cat with more than a taste of Damon Runyon in his writing voice.”MOSTLY MURDER

Yes, I write my own chapters. I admit I was a savvy but homeless street denizen when Miss Carole found me in the newspaper classified ads, up for auction for a dollar bill. When she traded her newspaper reporting job for writing fiction full-time, I looked her up and our collaboration began in 1985. Now it is my turn to “report” on her.

It is the rare crime series that reaches its 25th entry, but my Midnight Louie, feline PI, novels have done just that. Our current readers are on the edges of their seats for our next adventure, but will new readers be able to follow the goings-on?

A short “Previously in Midnight Louie’s Lives and Times” prologue covers who’s who and what’s what. The series develops like a three-year TV show with an ensemble cast, so I borrowed that technique from WEST WING et al. The first 12 books not in eBook will be coming out in that format, starting at Halloween.

Ok, Miss Carole. Why have we been together for so long?

I gave you voice in that long-ago news feature and found your back-alley swagger irresistible. I thought your personality had legs. That’s why I built an alphabet into the titles after the second one.

I do have the advantage of four legs. You say our series amounts to a 25-year panorama of Las Vegas history, from fading mob dominance to corporate mega-expansion to possible terrorism target. That other “alphabet” author has kept her cast firmly in the ’80s. How come me and my human cronies do not walk with crutches by now?

This is Las Vegas, Louie. Anything is possible. I’ve been writing about the four human crime solvers you help, unbeknownst to them, for more than twenty years. When I first visited Las Vegas for research, it had a one-story, one-gift-shop airline “terminal.” Then the Strip blossomed yearly like a Fourth of July firework. I had to update Vegas for every book, so readers should imagine the old movie device of the main characters walking on a foreground treadmill while years of filmed background flash past behind them.

I must say I never stuck with dame of my persuasion for this long. How do you keep us going?

It’s all about you, Louie, as usual. I wanted an offbeat first-person observer voice, noir but modern, to frame my four point-of-view characters: two men, two women; two pro crime-solvers, two amateur. You, Louie, are a homage and a critique of the Great American mystery-writing icon, the hard-boiled private dick. That had become a cliché by the time some gutsy women PIs came along in the ’80s. Then their imitators became clichéd, and not credible to me. I wanted a petite, feminine crime-solver who had inner strength as a partner for your feline noir.

NEW YORK TIMES crime reviewer Marilyn Stasio once declared that “cozy” mystery protagonists never got beat up. Too late. Temple Barr had already been creamed by two thugs in the second book. She’s a terrier of a character: looks cute and fluffy but is dedicated to ferreting out vermin. Just as you, Louie, are no cute and fluffy kittikins.

Bast forbid! I carry more hidden shivs than a pimp with a shaving fetish. When I “nail” a perp there will be blood.

Settle down. You’ve been favorably compared to James Bond, Spencer, Sherlock Holmes, Columbo, and Mike Hammer. The fact is, you’re incomparable as well as a perfect vehicle for satirizing human foibles.

In the noir tradition, Temple and the tall, hard-nosed female homicide lieutenant play out the classic male PI relationship with a police department frenemy. Then there’s the male cast: an ex-priest hunting his abusive step-father and the magician who tangled with the IRA as a teenager and is still hunting and being hunted by surviving IRA elements. You, Louie, are definitely needed for comic relief at times.

And I will bust chops too. Sometimes pork chops.


Carole Nelson DouglasUSA TODAY bestselling and NEW YORK TIMES Notable author Carole Nelson Douglas never met a genre she didn’t like. Of her sixty published novels, forty are mystery and suspense titles, but her books have made mystery, science fiction/fantasy, and romance bestseller lists. She also writes the Delilah Street, Paranormal Investigator, noir urban fantasy series and was the first author to make a woman from the Sherlockian canon, Irene Adler, a protagonist, in eight acclaimed historical suspense novels. A former award-winning newspaper reporter, she thrives on a potent brew of research and imagination.

To learn more about Carole, please visit her website.

Latest posts by ITW (see all)