Nurse turned investigator Pauline Sokol takes a gutsy and dogged -- if slightly ditzy -- approach to sleuthing. The gifted Avocato imbues her characters and plot with an offbeat charm and wit that grabs you from the start. The easily distracted Pauline's investigative techniques are quite diverting and give a humorous punch to this fun mystery -- which even includes a helpful ghost.

Insurance investigator Pauline's newest fraud assignment is at a posh Newport plastic surgery "spa." The billings aren't adding up, so she must go undercover to find out what's really going on. Luckily, her cross-dressing best friend, Goldie, wants a nose job, so they approach Highcliff Manor as an interested patient and his private-duty nurse.

From the start, things seem a little hinky. When bodies start piling up, Pauline realizes things have gotten downright dangerous. As in her previous cases, the mysterious and handsome Jagger turns up, setting Pauline's hormones ablaze. But considering the circumstances, she may need the backup. (AVON, Dec., 304 pp., $6.99)
Reviewed by: 
Jill M. Smith