cover image CAT IN AN ORANGE TWIST: A Midnight Louie Mystery

CAT IN AN ORANGE TWIST: A Midnight Louie Mystery

Carole Nelson Douglas, . . Forge, $24.95 (400pp) ISBN 978-0-7653-0681-4

Temple Barr, crime-fighting Las Vegas PR whiz, turns on her "gaydar," slips on her Jimmy Choos and makes funky feng shui in Douglas's 16th Midnight Louie caper, a fresher, tighter entry than 2003's Cat in a Neon Nightmare . Aided by "old green eyes" Louie, self-described "ace feline PI," Temple must crack a case set in the world of interior designers and chichi home furnishings. Temple is overseeing the grand opening of Maylords, a trendy furniture store featuring design diva Amelia Wong, when a terrorist-style shooting shatters the launch. Wong's been receiving death threats, but the body stabbed and stuffed into the giveaway Murano SUV belongs to Simon Foster, a brilliant designer and life partner of Temple's friend, choreographer Danny Dove. Douglas tackles some sensitive sexual harassment issues, adds some cool twists to an effervescent plot and includes updates on such ongoing characters as former priest Matt Devine and "Mr. Magician-cum-spy" Max Kinsella. Never taking itself too seriously, this wickedly witty cozy series continues to build sexy suspense while providing liberal doses of swaggering feline whimsy. Agent, Howard Morhaim. (Aug. 14)

Forecast: A blurb from Janet Evanovich and a makeover of the jacket design that signals "chick lit" should help expand the audience beyond talking-cat mystery aficionados.