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CAT IN AN ALIEN X-RAY
by Carole Nelson Douglas
Forge, August 2013
352 pages
$24.99
ISBN: 0765327481


Buy in the UK | Buy in Canada

Temple Barr has pulled some pretty fantastic publicity stunts over her career as a publicity agent, but the body count in her newest client's construction site is a bit too far over the top for even Temple to have arranged. A client that she only begrudgingly took on and one she finds is as "out there" as the UFO enthusiasts he hopes to attract to his new business on the Strip. Silas T. Farnum, is pleased as can be about the body and the resulting publicity even though Temple tries to convince him she did not arrange it. Staged to look like a mob dump reminiscent of the 1960s, authorities are left wondering if it is truly a mob hit while the UFO crazies assume it is an alien kidnap victim being returned to Earth.

Meanwhile, Temple is trying to sort out her increasingly complicated personal life with both a fiancé and a former boyfriend while dealing with the return of a dangerous enemy. And of course, her trusty feline companion Midnight Louie and his "Cat Pack" are in much evidence throughout the book.

There is much to like about this book, but there are a few flaws as well. The mystery itself - the body dumped at the construction site - is well plotted and gives readers a nice puzzle to solve. The entire space alien part of the plot adds a good bit of humor to the book as does the oddball client, Mr. Farnum. His idea for an attraction devoted to a Vegas take on Area 51 seems to be right at home on the Vegas Strip. The problems with the book begin with the mystery becoming so mired in the ever-growing personal issues Temple is experiencing that it is a bit hard to keep up with the mystery as readers are detoured through phone calls from Temple's mom and Temple's worry about the odd behaviors of her former boyfriend and current fiancé. Plus, the cat element of the series has evolved over time from just Midnight Louie to a much larger feline cast called the Cat Pack. Their chapters seemed to be more annoying than funny in this outing.

Although fans of the series will probably find much to enjoy in CAT IN AN ALIEN X-RAY, people who have not read previous books-especially the couple immediately prior to this one - may have a difficult time figuring out what is going on. There are several story arcs from the previous books making it all seem a bit complicated even for the most devoted of fans. This would have been a more enjoyable book had the focus stayed on the mystery at hand with less emphasis on Temple's personal dramas and the Cat Pack's squabbles.

§ Caryn St.Clair resides in University City, Missouri and is a former elementary school media specialist, President of the Parks Commission and a docent at the St.Louis Zoo.

Reviewed by Caryn St Clair, July 2013

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