A cat with an attitude, that's Midnight Louie. Carole Nelson Douglas has been permitted by this former motel-cat (abandoned in a litter, living off lizards and room service trays) to adopt and hang about with him, writing a series of mysteries (now totaling nine for each life?) featuring Louie as the smart-sass narrator. Louie refers to Douglas as my biographer. The series action is set in Las Vegas, which this mystery-solving cat calls my kind of town all night action; crime and punishment; dolls, dudes, and shady dames; moolah and murder; neon and nefarious doings. Ah, but this hard-boiled cat noir has the heart of a cozy. Both sides of his split personality are covered in the latest from Douglas and Louie a collection of 17 stories (both hard-boiled and warm fuzzies) featuring a variety of animals who step in where humans fear to tread, solving mysteries and providing clues to their detecting human colleagues.

The introduction is by Lawrence Block, whose Burglar series features a bookstore cat, Raffles. This mouser doesn't detect, but clearly Block knows how valuable an animal is to a story so much so that he once attempted to have the Edgar Awards divided into two categories: Books with Cat and Books without Cat.

These stories then are the perfect fix for those of us who love mysteries and animals. Midnight Louie himself has deigned to introduce each morsel in his unique style, providing additional crunch to this bowlful of stories.

Among the anthropomorphisizing writers are Lilian Jackson Braun (The Cat Who series), who Louie refers to as The First Lady of Feline Fiction, and Anne Perry, whose conversion from Victorian noir to crime most furry is ap- paw-lauded by Louie. Other included WHOAs (Writers Hot on Animals) are Nancy Pickard, Bill Crider, Barbara Paul, and J. A. Jance. Douglas herself contributes a story, for which Louie begins his introduction, My collaborator cheats on me. She also adds an afterward on the topic of the Adopt-a-Cat program, which combines bookstore-signing events with cat adoptions.

There are no dogs (in the sense of failures) in the collection, but dogs do make an appearance. As do elephants, a Tasmanian devil, an owl and a pair of lovebirds (of the feathered variety), hamsters and raccoons, and, of course, cats lots of cats and kittens. As Midnight Louie might growl, this compilation is the cat's meow.

George Cowmeadow Bauman wrote this with Biblio and Ginger Rogers, his blue-point Siameasers, who added inspiration to the review and hair to the keyboard.

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