Wednesday, December 20, 2006

Nip, Tuck, Dead.

That's the name of the book I agreed to review. A very pleasant marketing person named Nancy offered me a free book (read: crack) and the opportunity to review the thing here. How could I say no? I like to read, free books are best, and I like to hear myself type. It was the trifecta of goodness.

When I first got the email from Very Pleasant Nancy, I wasn't sure what to expect. See, I'm a mystery novel snob of the worst sort. I prefer the younger Peter Wimsey to the older one, I like the early Sherlock Holmes much, *much* better than the later stories (especially that horrible one that was supposedly written by Holmes himself), and parts of Laurie King's Holmesiana books make me howl with rage.

Here was a popular mystery novel written for a general audience, that contained no verbose descriptions of London streets at the turn of the century or bizarre Latin quotes. What would I do?

Well, honestly, I hurled the book across the room the first time I read it. It was not at all what I was expecting.

Then I read it a second time, because I felt like I had to, in order to give a decent review. Then I read it a third time because I wanted to.

The story concerns one Pauline Sokol, an ex-nurse turned private investigator. To reinforce that this is a fictional character, Sokol both runs everywhere ("Think I'll go for a jog") and cannot hold her liquor. Hello, she's a *former nurse*.

Sokol gets chivvied into yet another medical insurance fraud investigation (haven't read the books leading up to this one, sorry) and has to take her best pal off so that he can have a nose job and she can play private nurse while carrying out her Sherlocking and skullduggery.

The best friend is a flamingly gay man named Goldie. Of course he's six foot six, and of *course* he's a cross-dresser. And of *course* she lives with both him and his boyfriend, a man capable of whipping up bruschetta after giving Our Fair Heroine a foot rub.

See, I told you this was fiction.

But, dammit, this is a cute book. It's a book you'd want to read on the beach, or on a cruise, or waiting in the doctor's office. Okay, maybe not that last, given the propensities of some of the doctors in the story. Some of the dialogue is a little rough, and sometimes it reads like a travel guide to Newport, but it's fun, fast-paced, and surprisingly funny in parts.

If you like books that star nurses in which the word "fabulous" is used seven times by page 113, and the word "pus" isn't used once, this is the book for you.*

Quick plot summary: Pauline runs a lot. People fall off cliffs. There's a ghost (this bit is really well-done) and a couple of guys who make Pauline's pulse race. We meet Pauline's mom and dad and uncle--again, for those of you who've read the other books in the series--and Pauline's mom, in one hilarious scene, replaces all of Pauline's sensible undies with thongs from Victoria's secret. Pauline does eventually come close to solving the mystery, but the evildoer confesses at the end, thus saving her a lot of time. Not a lot of medical detail, thank God. Plenty of attention paid to clothes and food.

In short, the Insufferable Mystery Story Snob gives this book a C. The Ordinary Girl gives it an A-minus, with extra points because I didn't figure out who the murderer was until page 155.

Want a literary comedy of manners with a corpse in the drawing room? Stick with Murder Must Advertise or The Nine Tailors. Want something you can giggle over while you have another glass of wine? Nip, Tuck, Dead by Lori Avocato is your book.

*Thanks to Beloved Sister for pointing that out.

No comments: