cover image Cat in a Leopard Spot

Cat in a Leopard Spot

Carole Nelson Douglas. Forge, $24.95 (384pp) ISBN 978-0-312-85370-9

Fans of debonair anthropomorphic feline Midnight Louie will be delighted, but the uninitiated would do best to avoid this 13th installment in Douglas's alphabetical ""meganovel,"" after 2000's Cat in a Kiwi Con. (For those who are counting, the B book, Cat on a Blue Monday, follows Catnap and Pussyfoot.) Applying her trademark comic style (lots of bad puns and wordplay) to a deadly serious animal-rights treatise, the author sends Louie to investigate Rancho Exotica, a desert resort outside Las Vegas that caters to big-game hunters who pay for the ""fun"" of shooting captive wild animals and getting that trophy head for the den wall. When Rancho Exotica's animal-abusing owner, Cyrus Van Burkleo, gets impaled on a trophy horn, a stolen performing leopard, Osiris, gets charged with the crime. Louie, with minimal aid from such human allies as PIs Max Kinsella and Temple Barre, comes to Osiris's rescue. The many points of view and constantly shifting action, which bounces between the Vegas strip, Rancho Exotica, an animal rescue park called Animal Oasis and even (briefly) Chicago, will daunt anyone unused to Douglas's exuberance. Is the novel a comedy? A serious mystery? A love story? And what of all the loose plot lines and unresolved relationships? With the series less than half complete, the author promises her readers to provide satisfaction on all scores by book number 27. Douglas loyalists will swish their tails in anticipation. (Apr. 16)