Stephanie De Pue
- Published on Amazon.com
Format: Mass Market Paperback
"Cat in a Sapphire Slipper," is, perhaps, 20th in the Midnight Louie series of cat detection tales by Carole Nelson Douglas. So, evidently, a successful series with many fans. It finds Midnight Louie in Las Vegas, with his human, PR gal Temple Barr. Her aunt, former actress and romance writer Kit Carlson is planning to marry Aldo Fontana, former mobster with eight younger brothers who've all had a hand in running the city. But Aldo's bachelor party goes wrong: the bachelor brothers are kidnapped by their want-to-get-married themselves angry and jealous fiancées, and taken to a legalized prostitution ranch, apparently locally called a chicken ranch, on the outskirts of town. For a while, all is fun and games; then one of the prostitutes is found murdered, and Temple Barr and Midnight Louie must find the killer and save what remains of the good names of the Fontana boys.
Well, it isn't much of a mystery; bloodless, to be sure, and on the thin and flat side. Of course, I've noticed several series that present a mixture of cats and detection, though I don't think I've ever read any of those books. And I must say, although I absolutely love cats, have had an adopted pair - currently Divo and Fiona --for more years than most people on this earth have been alive, I don't really care for at least this book, in which a cat supposedly does most of the detection, and also narrates. Particularly since the cat narrates in a voice obviously modeled on the dialog invented by Damon Runyon (1880-1946) who wrote many short stories and sketches - some would be used to create the play "Guys and Dolls," and the movie based on it(Guys and Dolls). At any rate, Runyon was writing about Prohibition Broadway characters, horse players, gamblers, chorus girls, petty criminals, the demi-monde. The language he developed is defined as in a "distinctive vernacular style: a mixture of formal speech and colorful slang, almost always in present tense, and always devoid of contractions." If Douglas's cat must talk and narrate, can't she devise her own language for him?
Furthermore, I felt the author trivialized those women working as prostitutes at the ranch; and, to add insult to injury, she then turned around and began calling them courtesans. Now, historically courtesans have quite a different reputation: they aren't prostitutes. They tend to be beautiful and talented women, capable of singing or throwing a great party; they create social circles, and stay with lovers a long time -- perhaps a lifetime. Some great and mighty women have begun their careers as courtesans. However, Douglas loves cats; the book is dedicated to Alley Cat Allies and Feral Friends, and mentions the new program of Trap, Neuter and Release that aims to help feral felines, and I can't argue with that. I note the author also does a series of Irene Adler adventures, Irene Adler being the only woman who ever bested Sherlock Holmes in a game of wits. Perhaps I'd get on better with those, but I'm afraid the Adler books might be narrated by Irene's budgerigar.