A Dose of Murder
Lori Avocato
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Buy *A Dose of Murder* online

A Dose of Murder
Lori Avocato
320 pages
September 2004
rated 4 of 5 possible stars

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Burnt out after tireless years of working as a registered nurse, Pauline Sokol finally quits. To keep herself financially afloat, she goes to interview for what she thinks is a job clerking at an insurance agency, but instead finds herself roped in as an insurance-fraud investigator. Terrified and yet perversely thrilled, Pauline sets off on her first assignment lugging an ancient, bulky video camera, which is all she can afford in the name of spy paraphernalia, and armed with lots of practical advice as well as juicy gossip by Goldie, the cross-dressing veteran investigator.

Bumbling, fumbling and providing laughter galore in a manner reminiscent of the slapstick comedy of Laurel and Hardy, the foolhardy beginner investigator screws up spectacularly time and again as she attempts to get concrete proof that an erstwhile nursing school classmate has falsely claimed worker’s compensation. During this time, she also encounters two fascinating men - fellow investigator Nick Caruso and the mysterious Jagger – who also happen to be mortal enemies. Smitten with Jagger, Pauline helps him investigate a medical mill by taking a nursing job at the crooked practice where, coincidentally, her on-again-off-again doctor boyfriend also works.

But when the people working there start dying one by one, dare Pauline continue on the suddenly dangerous path her new career has taken and that too for Jagger, a man who is most likely just using her?

Lori Avocato gets off to a great start with A Dose of Murder, the first book in a wacky and outright hilarious new mystery series by Avon that’s sure to remind the readers irresistibly of Janet Evanovich’s highly popular Stephanie Plum series. Like Plum, Pauline Sokol makes a perfect bumbling investigator-wannabe whose antics cannot help but evoke laughter from the captivated readers and who still gets mixed up in enough mayhem to add a delicious touch of danger to the narrative. Avocato further enhances this promising premise by giving the hapless leading lady a marvelous support cast in the form of Goldie, the transvestite detective; Miles, the requisite gay roommate; Jagger, the hot, enigmatic sleuth who’s a whiz at disguises; Pauline’s caring Polish family, the Sokolsm and many more.

Wielding humor like a scalpel, Avocato sets Pauline off to explore the murky world of insurance fraud and medical scams, and this is explained in layman’s terms and in interesting detail. The mystery is also astonishingly good, guaranteed to keep readers guessing until the very end thanks to a plethora of possible suspects and myriad motives. There’s also a simmering romance triangle developing which hints at interesting things to come farther in the series. Together with great sparring dialogue, well-defined characters and comedy galore, Lori Avocato’s A Dose of Murder undoubtedly heralds a mystery series to watch out for.

Originally published on Curled Up With A Good Book at www.curledup.com. © Rashmi Srinivas, 2004

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