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Literature / Midnight Louie

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"So, there you have it, the usual human stew—folks good, bad, and hardly indifferent—totally mixed up and at odds with one another and within themselves. Obviously, it is left to me to solve all their mysteries and nail some crooks along the way. Like Las Vegas, the City That Never Sleeps, Midnight Louie, private eye, also has a sobriquet: the Kitty That Never Sleeps. With this crew, who could?"
Midnight Louie - "Previously in Midnight Louie's Lives and Times..."

Midnight Louie is a large, slightly overweight (20 pounds) black cat "owned" by Temple Barr, a freelance public relations consultant. The stories are told alternating between the character's first-person perspectives.

The author describes the style of the books as reminiscent of Damon Runyon, while Louie himself has been described as being the type of cat that either Mike Hammer or Columbo would have. Later installments see Louie being joined in solving crimes by his daughter, Midnight Louise, as part of "Midnight Investigations, "Inc." Since Cat on a Blue Monday, all proceeding novels in the series have featured a color from the next letter in the alphabet— Cat in a Crimson Haze, Cat in a Diamond Dazzle and so on. In 2015, the original two titles in the series were reissued as Cat in an Alphabet Soup and Cat in an Aqua Storm respectively. The author also announced that a final Z novel would not be enough to wrap up all the loose ends of the series and after the release of Cat in a Zebra Zoot Suit, the series would conclude with a final novel titled Cat in an Alphabet Endgame.

Carole Nelson Douglas is also the author of the Irene Adler historical mystery series, and the Delilah Street Paranormal Investigations.

    Books in this series 
  • Cat in an Alphabet Soup (formerly Catnap)
  • Cat in an Aqua Storm (formerly Pussyfoot)
  • Cat on a Blue Monday
  • Cat in a Crimson Haze
  • Cat in a Diamond Dazzle
  • Cat with an Emerald Eye
  • Cat in a Flamingo Fedora
  • Cat in a Golden Garland
  • Cat on a Hyacinth Hunt
  • Cat in an Indigo Mood
  • Cat in a Jeweled Jumpsuit
  • Cat in a Kiwi Con
  • Cat in a Leopard Spot
  • Cat in a Midnight Choir
  • Cat in a Neon Nightmare
  • Cat in an Orange Twist
  • Cat in a Hot Pink Pursuit
  • Cat in a Quicksilver Caper
  • Cat in a Red Hot Rage
  • Cat in a Sapphire Slipper
  • Cat in a Topaz Tango
  • Cat in an Ultramarine Scheme
  • Cat in a Vegas Gold Vendetta
  • Cat in a White Tie and Tails
  • Cat in an Alien X-Ray
  • Cat in a Yellow Spotlight
  • Cat in a Zebra Zoot Suit (August 25, 2015)
  • Cat in an Alphabet Endgame (upcoming)
  • Midnight Louie's Pet Detectives (anthology)

Provides examples of:

  • Action Girl: Lieutenant C.R. Molina, her younger colleague Detective Su. On the feline side Midnight Louise, who is particularly proud of the fact.
  • Action Survivor: Temple Barr.
  • All Women Love Shoes: A defining characteristic for Temple.
  • Alliterative Title: Many, but certainly nowhere close to all of the titles have featured an end-word that begins with the same letter as the color word
  • Alone with the Psycho: Happens all too often to Temple.
  • Alphabetical Theme Naming
  • Asshole Victim: Darren Cooke. Temple actually allowed his murderer to get away with it, since she was only trying to protect her small daughter.
  • Brainy Brunette: C.R.Molina.
  • Cats Are Mean: Defied by Louie himself, his daughter Louise and close feline associates. But true of Hyacinth the Siamese cat that Louie meets. Among other things her claws are painted with curare.
  • Continuity Nod: The series has quite a few of these. One of them is Temple's occasionally wearing the 'Midnight Louie heels' (which Nelson Douglas managed to get a pair of IRL) which she received from the Treasure Hunt Episode sub-plot in "Diamond Dazzle".
  • Cool Old Lady: Electra Lark, Temple's landlady. Also Temple's aunt Ursula who professionally goes by Kit Carlson (as an actress) and Sulah Savage (as a romance author).
    • Midnight Louie's mother, Ma Barker, is a feline example.
  • Crime Time Soap: If it is possible for a series to be this in book form, then Midnight Louie is it. Just look at the page quote.
  • Defiled Forever: Matt's mother, a Polish Catholic, got pregnant out of wedlock when she was 18. Despite the experience being consensual she sees herself as this. It left her easy prey for the likes of Effinger.
  • Detective Animal: Midnight Louie, and in later installments, his daughter Midnight Louise.
  • Dirty Old Woman: Refreshingly there are several. Electra Lark, the eccentric new age landlady and Temple's aunt Kit. Who also is a romance novel writer.
  • Dogs Are Dumb: Midnight Louie and Midnight Louise are firmly of this camp in most cases, but sometimes have to work with dogs, such as the Scottie and Westie terriers, Scotch & Soda, in Cat in a Yellow Spotlight. After all, even a dummy can have certain skills that would be useful to their investigations, such as a dog's sense of smell or being able to inconspicuously be in certain places.
  • Domestic Abuse: Cliff Effinger was an abusive husband and stepfather. It messed Matt up.
    • it was so bad, in fact, that when Matt told the Catholic Church about it, they accepted that he had joined the priesthood under mental duress, and allowed him to leave without censure... which is extremely rare (think of it as getting an annulment, rather than a divorce).
  • Dumb Blonde: Savannah Ashley and her silver persian cat Divine Ivette epitomise the trope, Savannah especially.
  • Embarrassing Middle Name: Temple Ursula Barr. Doubles as an Embarrassing First Name for her Aunt Kit.
  • Fallen-on-Hard-Times Job: Savannah Ashleigh's B movie career is long over and has to work as a judge in a Stripper competition, presenter in a Romance Novel Convention to support herself.
  • Femme Fatale: Kitty O'Rilley, who in her younger days called herself Kathleen. She caused the death of Max's cousin Sean and during the books is involved in unsavory business.
  • Fille Fatale: Kitty O'Rilley in her youth was a Honey Trap and Gold Digger for the IRA.
  • I Don't Pay You to Think: In Cat in a Yellow Jumpsuit, when one of the cats in the gang of Midnight Louie's mother, Ma Barker, tells her that he doesn't think she should go off on a particular assignment requested of her by Louie, she snaps that "You are eye candy. It is not your job to think."
  • Meaningful Name: Former Priest Matt Devine (divine).
    • Louie's mother has the sobriquet Ma Barker, who IRL was the mother of a gang of sibling gangsters; the feline version certainly acts like an organized crime boss.
    • Electra Lark's cat (who claims to be psychic, and is convincing enough that even Midnight Louie is very careful around her) is named Karma.
    • done on purpose in universe examples: the very first book featured a bookstore cat called Ingram, and several early books had an appearance from a police-trained sniffer dog called Nose E.
  • Mystery Magnet: Temple Barr
    Midnight Louise: I spot several suspicious females, including your roommate. She is dangerous to be around. Dead bodies have a habit of suddenly appearing.
  • The Napoleon: Temple is a rather petite woman and sensitive about it. (it's one of the reasons behind her high heel shoe addiction)
  • Nom De Plume: Many of the authors featured in the series, but special mention goes to Temple's aunt who writes romance novels under the name of Sulah Savage.
  • Odd Name Out: Originally, the first two novels Pussyfoot and Catnap, which were only one word each, and it wasn't an alphabetical color or jewel word like the other titles in the series have. With the renaming, Cat in an Alphabet Soup and Cat in an Alphabet Endgame are new odd ones.
  • Older Than They Look: Temple's 30 years old, but in one book she goes undercover as an 18-year-old talent quest contestant. It exasperates her a bit.
  • The One That Got Away: A dark version with Carmen Molina and Rafi Nadir. He sabotaged her birth control as a way to control her. She left town without a word. He has not forgotten her. Gender reversed but even more messed up with Max Kinsella and Kitty the Cutter.
  • Only Known by Their Nickname: Max Kinsella's real name is technically Michael Aloysius Xavier Kinsella, but good grief. It's not much a surprise he took the first of each his names and combined them to become the "Mystifying Max."
  • Real Life Writes the Plot: Midnight Louie's 'cutting-edge surgical procedure' - he was cat-napped in order to be neutered, but the person behind it gave him to her plastic surgeon instead of a vet, who performed a vasectomy (and a quick tummy tuck while he was there) - came directly from Carole Nelson Douglas constantly coming across ads for a public service campaign about responsible pet ownership, especially abandoning kittens.
  • Single-Target Sexuality: Temple is the only woman to elicit any response from Matt.
  • Shout-Out: Midnight Louie says that he prefers his night-life "shaken, not stirred."
    • Max tells his mentor in magic that Temple is "Charlie Brown's Little Red-Haired Girl, all grown up."
  • Stalker without a Crush: Kathleen O'Connor, alias Kitty the Cutter, is this to Max Kinsella, and his one-time lover Temple Barr and her new lover Matt Devine get drawn in by extension. After a brief fling with her in his youth, she became obsessed with Revenge on him for perceived violations. She's been after him ever since.
  • Treasure Hunt Episode: There's a couple of books which have these as a non-murder sub-plot, most memorably "Cat in a Diamond Dazzle" (see All Women Love Shoes).
  • True Blue Femininity: Matt spends quite a long time contemplating the VMB, the Virgin Mary Blue, and thinks all Catholics are conditioned to like this color. When purchasing an expensive, silk blouse for his mother he choses this color because it is guaranteed that she will like it.
  • You Go, Girl!: Midnight Louise, Temple Barr, Carmen Molina, Detective Su.