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Cat in an Alien X-Ray is bending a bit under the weight of the twenty-four books before it.
A strand of the plot which stretches over years is unwoven and then rewoven to remake the pattern of the lives of the four main characters Midnight Louis, Temple Barr freelance public relations expert, Max Kinsella, stage magician and undercover operative, and Matt Devine former catholic priest and very much faithful practicing catholic. Of course the plot device of people presumed dead, only to turn up later is not new to this group of books. Max's mentor both as a magician and undercover agent is declared dead and later survives into a later book, only to die permanently in a still later book. Max himself is horrendously injured, thought dead, and fights his way back to a semblance of his former self by the beginning of this book.
But it is not the plot, thickening as it may be that has me coming back, book after book.It is the characters, the odd puns, the nods and winks to old Las Vegas legends, and amazing neon covered buildings long gone and not at all forgotten.
The characters which blend into a rainbow of comic relief include Temple's apartment in the Circle Ritz, a completely round column of a building which survived the fifties. Louis thinks it looks like a hockey puck. Electra Lark, the landlady and justice of the peace, holds weddings in the chapel there. The congregation includes soft form sculptures of famous Las Vegas characters including Elvis. She thinks weddings should be well attended.
I have to admit I began this series in the middle with the three abridged audiobooks, Cat on a Hyacinth Hunt, Cat in an Indigo Mood, and Cat in a Jeweled Jump Suit, and then went to the beginning, caught up and read the books in order to this, the latest book.
I got those three books on cassette in probably 1993 and if it were not for Robert Forster's gravely voice, a pitch perfect film noir gangster 's voice from the thirties I may not have become interested in this series at all. When these audiobooks became available on audible I bought them and listened to them again. The new narrators for these last two books are good, but no one except maybe Bogey or Cagney can do thirties noir like Robert Forster. Incidentally the abridged books actually benefited from the abridgment.
Midnight Louie, short, dark and dangerous, all 19 feline pounds of him is still body guarding his roommate Miss Temple. He still keeps his retractable shivs sharp, and members of Midnight Inc. Detective Agency in line, even if they are as independent as cats. Louie's human counterparts are not as consistent in holding up their end of the story.
Louie, fortunately for his Miss Temple, is forgiving, because not everyone can have built in weapons and an ankle eye view of crime scenes
So I suppose this is more a review of the series than of this book specifically. But the series does culminate in this book. Still I am afraid if I had not become invested in Temple and Midnight Louie I may not have enjoyed this book as a stand alone, although it does fine on its on, even all of the many Master Criminals, including a renegade IRA agent, the Synth a cabal of master magicians, old time Mafia left overs, and the odd con man or two are introduce and explained. But never fear Midnight Louis's alley cat wits, can handle them all.
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