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A Dose of Murder: Pauline Sokol Mysteries    by Lori Avocato order for
Dose of Murder
by Lori Avocato
Order:  USA  Can
Avon, 2004 (2004)

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* * *   Reviewed by J. A. Kaszuba Locke

Lori Avocato delivers a delirious debut to a new mystery series in A Dose of Murder. Searching for a trip on the 'wild side', burnt-out nurse Pauline Sokol makes a change in career. Pauline's roommate Miles refers our heroine to the Fabio investigation agency. After years of tending to sniffly 'munchkins', Pauline exchanges tongue depressors and thermometers for cameras and beeper. Then comes the task of learning to use the new equipment, no small feat for Pauline, who ends up filming only the lower-half of a perp!

Insurance fraud investigation head Fabio assigns a hesitant Pauline to her first case - a worker's compensation claim. Claimant Tina Acaluso, Sokol's former nursing-school friend, is married to a doctor in the clinic where Tina 'injured' her back. Investigators - Adele, and Goldie (a gorgeous, flamboyant, transvestite, and partner of Miles) - teach Pauline the trade. Goldie, a must-meet character, with colorful lingo, says to Pauline when they meet, 'Hey, 'suga', you must be the new mole.' Enter mysterious investigator, handsome Jagger, who offers to teach Pauline the ropes and help her nab Tina, if she agrees to go undercover as a nurse (what else!) in the orthopedic clinic suspected of filing fraudulent Medicare claims.

The Polish Sokol family make a wondrous addition to the story. Meet eccentric, generous 80-year old UncleWalt, and Mama, who's anxious to marry off her thirty-four year-old daughter. Pauline drops in often. Mama has a set menu for each day and night of the week, with enough to feed the neighborhood including kielbasa, placki (potato pancakes), and sauerkraut. Mama is elated when Pauline brings Jagger home to dinner. The reader also meets Spanky, a five-pound canine under the shared custody of Pauline, Goldie, and Miles, with its own perspective on events - 'Taking care of Pauline, Miles and Goldie is no easy job, But they're all mine and I guess I have to keep them.'

From the first page, Lori Avocato takes the reader on a non-stop country fair ride, with dented, wobbly wheels on a bumpy track. There are even a few deaths in A Dose of Murder, though they place second to the comedy in this story of a 'most-unlikely-to-succeed' sleuth who hides in snowbanks and wears high heels in the slippery snow (it all reminded me somewhat of the movie, The Birdcage). I look forward very much to more engaging 'Perils of PI Pauline' adventures, which I recommend to anyone in between books, down-in-the-dumps, or just looking for a lift.

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