A Dose of Murder

A Dose of Murder

by Lori Avocato

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After years of chasing around sniffly munchkins with a tongue depressor, nurse Pauline Sokol has had it. She's sick of being an "angel of mercy"—she'd like to raise some hell for once! But finding a new career won't be easy for someone who's had no experience beyond thermometers and bedpans.

Luckily, the smarmy head of an agency that investigates medical fraud thinks she'd be perfect for the job, since, for him, a potential employee's most important qualification is a killer pair of legs. So now Pauline's a p.i., but since she knows as much about detective work as a potted geranium might, the hunky and mysterious Jagger steps in to teach her the ropes. Her first assignment—going undercover at a local clinic to investigate fake insurance claims—promises to be a hoot ... until the healers around her start inexplicably dropping dead. And before she can say, "streptococci," Pauline's stuck in a true health care crisis with her own continued wellness in very serious jeopardy.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780060731656
Publisher: HarperCollins Publishers
Publication date: 09/28/2004
Series: Pauline Sokol Series , #1
Pages: 320
Sales rank: 593,542
Product dimensions: 4.19(w) x 6.75(h) x 0.80(d)

About the Author

After serving in the Air Force as a registered nurse, Lori Avocato decided to give up nursing to write fiction. She lives in New England and is a member of the Mystery Writers of America, PASIC, NINC, Romance Writers of America, the Author's Guild, and Sisters in Crime. She's raising two teenage sons (heaven help her!), and one darling dog, Spanky. Lori is the author of six novels featuring Pauline Sokol: A Dose of Murder; The Stiff and the Dead; One Dead Under the Cuckoo's Nest; Deep Sea Dead; Nip, Tuck, Dead; and Dead on Arrival.

Read an Excerpt

A Dose of Murder

Chapter One

"Open wide." If I had to repeat that order to this kid one more time, I'd stick my head into the autoclave and roast my brain until it popped like a kernel of corn. Of course, first I'd have to remove all the instruments that are sterilized in the darn thing. That's how my day was going. That's how this damn career was going.

No, that's how my life was going.

I glared at the closemouthed kid sitting in front of me in the pediatrician's office I'd offered to work in for a week -- and groaned.

What the hell was I thinking?

I had a permanent job at the Hospital of Saint Greg's. I didn't need this. Why did I insist on doing favors for others all the time?

Stinky Lapuc, the little boy sitting in front of me with his mouth clamped shut tighter than a clam facing a pot of boiling water, glared at me from his perch on the examining table. I called him "Stinky" because the dear must have eaten beans prior to his visit at the office. His real name on the chart was John. Boring. I liked "Stinky" better. It had character. He had gas.

I waved the throat swab in front of his beady, watery eyes. "Open wide, my dear," I repeated in my best Cinderella's Fairy Godmother voice. "Open wide and let Nurse Pauline Sokol take a peek at those handsome tonsils you have." If not, kiddo, this swab gets poked into your tummy until you open. Okay, I'd never poke a five-year-old, but the way I felt right now, I enjoyed a moment of thinking I was capable of child poking.

Today while my feet hurt worse than Stinky's possible strep throat, I stood there and looked at the swab in my hand. Before I stuck it into his bacteria-laced throat, I wished, for a second, that it was a magic wand and I could whisk myself away to Club Med.

Because, although I don't have a mercenary bone in my body, I also didn't have any money in my savings account, and a magic wand was the only way I'd get there. Admittedly, I'm a shopoholic, but hey, I'm single -- not something I'm proud of by the way, and don't get my mother started on that -- and could shop till I dropped. But not today. Today even shopping didn't pique my interest. Hell, I was tired of taking odd jobs on my vacations. I was tired of my regular job as a unit director in Labor and Delivery who hired and fired staff. I didn't have the stomach for the firing. Frankly, I'd been considering the fact that I was ... burned out.

Nursing had been my life, yet now ... I needed a change. But I couldn't afford to just quit with no future plans.

Stinky looked as if he needed to cough or yawn or something, so I aimed my swab. "Open wide, sugar-doll."

His mother, Mrs. Lapuc and cousin to Andrea Lapuc, who went to high school with me and stole my boyfriend Stephen, gave me an odd look. "You think you could get him to open?" I asked in my most professional voice, although that poking thing wouldn't leave my thoughts.

She took the boy by his collar. "Do what she says or no dessert tonight."

Amazed that the old threat was still used by parents today (My mother had used it as her dinner mantra until I was about thirty. No, wait, she still uses it on me), I stood at the ready.

Stinky hesitated. Then, as if watching a drawbridge go up in slow motion when you're the last car in line and you have to pee, I took the swab from the holder, held it at the ready, and saw his little lips part. It wasn't enough yet, so I gave a pleading look to his mom.


That did the trick.

Or so I thought, until he bit down on the swab, leaving half of it in my hand. "Don't swallow!" I reached toward his lips. "Open."

He looked at me, then the remainder of the swab shot out with the force of his tongue clearly behind it. I looked down. The swab was stuck to my left breast. "Excuse me." I walked out of the room, screamed inside my head and promptly went to get another one.

"Don't do that this time," I said, giving another pleading look at his mother when I came back in.

"He doesn't feel good, you know."

And I hated my career.

"That's why he's behaving like this," she said, then grabbed his arm. "Open!"

He did, and the swab hit its mark before he clamped shut like Jaws again, and I had my -- hopefully -- last patient taken care of. I gave the mother instructions about the test and turned to go.

Mrs. Lapuc bundled Stinky up although the office had to be a hundred degrees. Outside was snow covered and maybe in the thirties, but this wasn't Alaska. It was Connecticut, for crying out loud.

Babies cried. Toddlers ran rampant. Older kids, I'm guessing by the colorful language, yelled words to the nurses that even I didn't use in the privacy of my home when alone, and the odor of diapers, full and ripe, mixed with medicine that no kid in their right mind would take unless under threat of mother.

The soreness in my feet spread to the tips of my shoulderlength blonde (natural, I swear!) hair, which was wrapped, nurse-style, upon my head. When I got to the nurses' station and had given the swab to Maryann, the full-time nurse who'd know better what to do with it, I collapsed into a chair. Thank goodness it wheeled itself into the counter with the weight of my fall and not out into the hallway where I could have bowled over one of the little patients ...

A Dose of Murder. Copyright © by Lori Avocato. Reprinted by permission of HarperCollins Publishers, Inc. All rights reserved. Available now wherever books are sold.

Table of Contents

What People are Saying About This

Laura Van Wormer

“A fresh, new voice in mystery . . . great fun and a diverting escape.”

Merline Lovelace

“A hilarious roller coaster ride.”

Harriet Klausner

“A wonderful debut mystery . . . a solid who-done-it, chick lit style.”

Carolyn Hart

“Sexy and sassy . . . a sure prescription for outrageous sleuthing.”

Customer Reviews

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Dose of Murder ( Avon Mystery Series) 3.8 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 17 reviews.
debavp on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Unfortunately, this did not live up to it's potential. Pauline Sokol should have been the main character, but somehow wound up being secondary to Jagger's physique. And that's how the entire book went, superficial, no attempt at depth, and what a shame it was as this could have been an exceptional look at medical fraud as well as a much more entertaining read.
FutureBestSeller on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
This is a new author for me and really enjoyed this book. I always love a good mystery with crazy characters and sexy men! This would make a great beach book or cozy winter night read.
Darla on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
I got this one signed in a charity auction a while back--I'm not sure which one.This is the first book in a mystery series featuring burned-out-nurse turned insurance investigator Pauline Sokol.Pauline Sokol (yeah, she refers to herself by both first and last names quite a bit--it got a little annoying) decides she's got to quit nursing before she gives in to the temptation to take a poke at one of those irritating little kids. So, she calls in a favor and gets a job as an insurance investigator.The first case she's sent on, she ends up having to go undercover... as a nurse.It's a fun story. It would be even more fun if I hadn't read Janet Evanovich's Stephanie Plum series. This is just too much of the same. The similarities--the slimy boss, the sexy mysterious mentor, the cross-dressing co-worker, etc., etc.--were distracting to the point that they interfered with enjoying the book.What was good was the realistic medical details, and the convoluted mystery, especially once Pauline's casual boyfriend gets a job at the medical center she's investigating.I believe I have the second book in the series in my TBR pile. I'm crossing my fingers that the annoying/distracting bits were confined to the first book.
silverdaisy1975 on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
This is the first book in a series by Lori Avocato. It is about an ex-nurse named Pauline Sokol who starts working as a insurance fraud investigator. Amusingly her new boss sends her undercover as a nurse.This is a fun book, but fans of Stephanie Plum will see a definte rip-off. Her love interest is named Jagger (red Ranger) and her sidekick is loud but loveable (read lula) and she has a crazy old relative yhat is a blast (read Grandma Mazur). Pauline even goes to her parent's house for dinner often and watches the mayham ensue.If you have not read the Plum books, these books will have you laughing out loud. If you have, you'll have a hard time overlooking the obvious rip-off to truly enjoythem.
carol223CS More than 1 year ago
Lori Avocato’s A Dose of Murder Pauline Sokol, a nurse gets burned out and decides to quit the nursing profession. She end up seeking a job with her roommate’s relative in the insurance industry. Little did she know this would be an insurance investigator. She knows nothing about doing investigations but is willing to learn. But this job requires on the job training. But Pauline never expected to deal with medical insurance fraud, murder, tension, drama, suspense with plenty of thrill, chills, twists and turns. The characters were creatively crafted, eccentric, vivid and colorful. They were involved in a plot that in addition to the murders, fraud, Pauline inexperience contained humorous situations, laughable shenanigans plus a touch of romance.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Fun read for just relaxing.
Badkitty70 More than 1 year ago
Pauline Sokol is a nurse who is feeling burnt out. After one particularly frustrating day, she decides she can't do it anymore and quits her job. Desperate to find something else right away, her roommate Miles helps her get a job as an insurance fraud investigator with his slimy uncle Fabio. She's never done anything like that before but figures all she'll have to do is take a couple pictures, type of a report, and that will be that. How hard can it be? The last thing she expects is to be up to her stethoscope in murder. Got this book at one of our local library book sales for a whopping 25 cents. What a bargain! Full of quirky characters, funny dialogue, and a sexy "who exactly does he work for" love interest, I was hooked!! Pauline Sokol is a likable and hilarious character. Bumbling around trying to investigate a medical fraud case with no experience, I spent most of my time laughing at her sleuthing abilities...or lack thereof. Not in a bad way mind you. She just cracked me up! Granted she did come off as completely dense at times and did some really stupid things, but she wasn't annoying about it like some other characters in other books I have read. She just seemed genuinely out of her element all while trying her best. It's what made her such an endearing character to me. Her roommate, Miles, was a bit on the bland side though, which was disappointing. But the story more than made up for it with Goldie. A fellow investigator and drag queen, Goldie was a fun and wonderful addition. My only complaint would be the overuse of the term "suga." That did get a bit annoying after a while, but it was Goldie, so I forgave him. Another great, but sadly underused, character was Adele. I really liked how outrageous yet motherly she was. I hope she gets more time in future books because I really felt like she had something to add but didn't really get the chance. As far as the on again, off again, is he or isn't he, kinda sorta boyfriend Vance, well, he was as dull as I think he was supposed to be. With the sexy and mysterious Jagger coming into play, he didn't stand a chance and I don't think he was supposed to. I normally don't care about romance in my cozies, but I will make an exception for Jagger. And last on my list is Spanky. I always enjoy the addition of animals in a story no matter what their role and Spanky was just too cute for words. Naturally there was a cast of other characters but their role was more secondary in nature and not at the forefront of the story so I don't usually get into that. The only exception would be Eddy, but to not giveaway any of the story, I won't touch on him. As far as the tale itself, I have seen some complaints about a Stephanie Plum rip off. That could be the case, but I myself have never read the Plum series so I can't say. All I can tell you is that it's bound to happen with all the books out there in the world. I found this story to be fun and entertaining albeit a bit on the unbelievable side....but it is a cozy mystery after all. You can't take those too seriously. It was somewhat predictable (most cozies are) and I was able to figure out the killer before the reveal, but it still had some twists and turns that I wasn't expecting. I worked in the medical field for years so having the case be about medical insurance fraud was interesting, but I could see some finding it boring. However don't let that part deter you. It is still a cute and light read if
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I am a Registered Nurse and feel that this book gives the professional nurse a very poor name. I did not like the character at all as she is just irritating. I struggled getting through the book and kept repeating "grow up".
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
TeensReadToo More than 1 year ago
Unfortunately, I wasn't too impressed with this title. I muddle my way through chapter five but was unable to finish. Although the premise of the book was a good one (burnt out nurse becomes a P.I.), something about the character of Pauline Sokol just irritated me.

Others might find it a lot more enjoyable than I did, though!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Guest More than 1 year ago
Pauline Sokol decides she is burned out from being a nurse for so many years. So, she quits her job. Then she realizes she has no job and thus no money to pay her many bills. Her best friend and roommate, Miles, sets her up with an interview with his uncle. Thinking she¿d be doing office work, she soon finds out she will be an insurance fraud investigator. Something she knows nothing about. Since she doesn¿t get paid unless she completes an investigation, she sets out to quickly learns how. After almost being caught, Goldie begins to give her some instruction. She also gets some direction when she ties up with Jagger in a ¿you scratch my back, I¿ll scratch yours¿ type of situation. This takes her undercover in a local clinic, one her boyfriend just joined. Can she do her surveillance work as well as help Jagger out with his case, through her undercover work, without wearing herself out, getting caught, or getting herself killed. As she stumbles on a body and tries to keep a level head when around hot Jagger, she finds herself in many hilarious situations. I found myself laughing out loud so many times while reading this book. It is a quick, easy cozy to read. The characters are so much fun, the situations believable, and the plot well-written. I especially like the interaction of Pauline and Jagger, but Goldie is also a hoot. Her parents and uncle really add to the story as well. Her lack of experience does not detract from her ability to help solve this crime. I found it to be believable. I look forward to reading many more Pauline Sokol books. I highly recommend this book.
Guest More than 1 year ago
this is one of the best books i've read in a long time. i would love to read me written by her
Guest More than 1 year ago
I couldn't help but compare all the characters and stories to Janet Evanovich's Stephanie Plum series. It was so close that I was unable to enjoy the book.
harstan More than 1 year ago
While she is trying to get a sick boy¿s mouth open, Pauline Sokol concludes she just does not want to remain a nurse any longer. After twelve years she is burned out. Her gay roommate Miles gets her a job at an insurance agency as a fraud claims investigator. Her first case is to prove that Tina Macaluso, receiving injury compensation, never injured her back on the job.---- Pauline knows zilch about how to conduct an investigation; sexy Jagger offers to teach her if she will assist him on a case he works involving a group of doctors committing Medicare fraud by filing false claims. He wants Pauline to apply for a job as a temporary nurse since Tina is on medical leave. Jagger¿s source inside the office is murdered while Pauline stumbles across the corpse of the billings clerk leading her to wonder why she is doing the job she detests even undercover and could get killed doing it.---- The heroine finds herself in several crazy situations that leave readers at times chuckling out loud and often concerned whether she can extricate herself from her perils without revealing her true purpose for being in the medical office. The quirky support cast adds humor to this wonderful debut mystery. Lori Avocado provides a solid who-done-it, chick lit style.---- Harriet Klausner
Guest More than 1 year ago
Nurse Pauline Sokol knew she was burned out. Needing something new, her gay roomie, Miles, gets her a job at a company that investigates insurance fraud. Being somewhat accident prone and knowing less than nothing about how to be a private investigator, Pauline is in over her head and she knows it. ....................... Then Jagger steps in to teach her the ropes. In exchange for Jagger showing her how to be a decent P.I. and crack her first case, Pauline agrees to go undercover at a local health clinic to find evidence of medical insurance fraud for Jagger's case. Sounds easy until co-workers start turning up dead. .............................. ***** This mystery will have you chuckling aloud as you try to figure out 'who-did-it'. This is the author's first debut in the mystery genre and I believe she has found her little niche! As the first book in a series, this colorful cast of characters looks to be on their way to the top of the best sellers list! *****