Dead on Arrival is the first book that I have ever read by Lori Avocato, but it definitely will not be my last. The book and
its starring character are quite entertaining and colorful.
The heroine of the book is Pauline Sokol, an ex-RN turned medical insurance fraud investigator. She works for and with a mysterious man who goes by the name of Jagger. Pauline knows little about him except that he's “hot”, and where their “spot” is to meet when he gives her a new case: in front of the Dunkin' Donuts shop. She lives with two men who are her best friends, and they all share custody of Spanky, the dog.
When she goes to meet Jagger at their spot this outing, he tells her about her newest case, involving lots of money – millions, actually. The company, he tells her, is TLC Air and Land, run by Payne Sterling who inherited the company from his recently deceased uncle. Payne is not a well-liked man, unfortunately, not even by his sister, Pansy Sterling. Then again, she is not well liked, either. They are both unique and different individuals; put bluntly, they are very, very weird.
Pauline has to investigate who is stealing millions from the company and stop them from doing so. Her accomplices are Lilla, a gorgeous French-Canadian who plays a receptionist; Jagger, who we eventually find out is a paramedic; a kid named Jeremy (or as Pauline affectionately calls him, Buzz Lightyear); and finally an EMT named ER Dano.
We never find out his real name; throughout the entire book, he is referred to as ER Dano or Dano. Would that Avocato had given his true name (Dan ?) when she first introduced the character. She spends time on him and develops him well. For some readers, that is a minor annoyance. Pauline, again, describes ER Dano as “hot” as well. He is also very grumpy, burned out from his job, but his job is something he carries with him. Pauline herself seems to be a typical American woman with a strong libido, since almost every man that she meets she classifies as “hot.” Many of Pauline’s references will make the reader blush and laugh out loud, thinking “that's what I say.”
On Pauline’s first day on this job, she meets Payne and Pansy, and goes through her day thinking that it would be a good idea to search Payne's office and see what she can find out. While searching his office, she finds a file that implicates that Payne was embezzling from the company. During her search through the file, Payne enters his office with a knife and tries to kill her. Luckily, Pauline is able to get away. She runs into Jagger and blurts out what she has done. He, then, runs to Payne's office to confront him, but he and Pauline are shocked to find find Payne with his own knife sticking out of his back.
Pansy is found in her home after the memorial service for her brother with a knife in her own chest. They rush her to the hospital and hope that she survives. They also hope that maybe she can give them any kind of lead as to who did this.
Throughout the story, Pauline has to do what she was hired for – nursing: going out by air and land to calls that need immediate attention. Some of the calls to which they respond are interesting, and she understands how much people need and like her.
As they investigate further, Pauline and crew discover some interesting and disturbing things about Payne and Pansy. Pauline makes some hasty conclusions about ER Dano; along with her, I did not want those conclusions about Dano to be right. It did, however, keep me in constant anxiety until she came to her final conclusion. The culprit at the end of the book is not really a big surprise, but a surprise nonetheless. The reader is kept guessing until the killer is finally named at end of the book, which has a cool twist to it and is a good way to end it. I actually thought for a minute that something magical was going to happen to Pauline and Dano. But, alas… Maybe someday.
All in all, I loved Dead on Arrival. Its twists and turns carry the reader along with Pauline and the gang, entertaining and making you laugh out loud. I would definitely recommend this book to readers and look forward to reading more of Avocato's work.