Although Runyonesque street-cat Midnight Louie tracks a feline in his 12th appearance (Cat in a Jeweled Jumpsuit, 1999, etc.), he and feminine amateur sleuth, Temple Barr, the cozy-noir partners who launched the Douglas series take a backseat on this ride through Oz Vegas. Surrealistic in any case, Las Vegas goes nova when the kiwis invade: the fruit, the birds, and New Zealand's virtual products, Xena and Hercules, hit town for TitaniCon, the biggest science fiction/fantasy convention ever. When the daughter of working mom and tough cop Carmen Molina is desperate to go, Molina asks ex-priest-turned-radio shrink, Matt Devine, to escort the 12-year-old Mariah. And when murder strikes King Khatlord from the blockbuster television series Space Trooper Bazaar, Molina needs help from all the regulars in this bizarre, jam-packed, postmodern-Dickensian series—especially the Mystifying Max, former Interpol operative and Temple's love interest. Character confusions proliferate in this masked world where the `real` Khatlord looks exactly like costumed fans and hack writers hack each other. When UNLV Professor Jefferson Mangel is sliced by a real replica of a prop knife, the case enters another, more dangerous, dimension, bursting the bounds of a single book and single genre.
If Midnight Louie prowled only the predictable streets of genre fiction, all the murders in his ersatz world would be resolved. But each new installment in this exuberant series compounds the complexity, leaving us between books with mysterious bodies and looming menace. Even seasoned series fans will occasionally scratch their heads. (Author tour)