The Stiff and the Dead
Lori Avocato
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The Stiff and the Dead
Lori Avocato
352 pages
July 2005
rated 4 1/2 of 5 possible stars

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Pauline Sokol’s initial foray into the world of medical malpractice (A Dose of Murder) had her avoiding death by a hairsbreadth and altogether provided her with an exhilarating experience the likes of which her previous nursing career never had. This time around, the newbie medical fraud investigator is handed a prescription fraud case involving “sex and the senior citizens,” a.k.a illegal Viagra, in which the chief geriatric suspect, a crony of her uncle’s, has recently died.

To get evidence on the other remaining suspect in the case, Pauline ages herself with the use of cosmetics to go undercover into the bingo-bingeing world of senior citizens. Once again Jagger, that enigmatic PI, is on the same case and persuades Pauline anew to don the mantle of a nurse, this time to inveigle herself into the pharmacy suspected of doling out these drugs. Pills, passion and peril permeate Pauline’s world, and the result is at once hilarious and suspenseful.

Lori Avocato does a bang-up repeat job of keeping readers in mirth as her intrepid heroine Pauline Sokol weaves in and out of perilous situations in a slapstick manner reminiscent of Lucy Ricardo. In this second novel, Pauline, the-nurse-turned-medical-fraud-investigator, remains an engaging work in progress. She’s now wise to certain aspects of detective work but keeps getting emotionally involved, much to savvy Jagger’s dismay. Caught between enigmatic Jagger and handsome Nick, although her own preference is clear, there’s passion a-plenty for Pauline, particularly when a Viagra pill goes down the wrong throat with humorous effects. Although part of a series, this book does well as a stand-alone with the author filling in much of the background from the previous book. The detailed nursing and prescription scam particulars provide an intriguingly authentic ambience to the book, and the suspense is well maintained till the end.

Originally published on Curled Up With A Good Book at © Rashmi Srinivas, 2005

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