cover image One Dead Under the Cuckoo's Nest

One Dead Under the Cuckoo's Nest

Lori Avocato, . . Avon, $6.99 (337pp) ISBN 978-0-06-073167-0

In Avocato's third comic Pauline Sokol mystery (after The Stiff and the Dead ), the ex-nurse turned insurance fraud investigator finds herself drugged, kidnapped and locked in a mental institution under a fictitious name. Enter enigmatic Jagger, who's masquerading as a doctor this time around and, as usual, doesn't tell Pauline much except that she's supposed to investigate a scam involving the placement of "mental patients" for insurance bounty money. Surrounded as she is by oddball inmates and "nuns" with French manicures, it's a tough call to determine who's bonkers and who's not. When one of the nuns ends up impaled on a broom handle and a naked patient gets a little too friendly, Jagger tries to pull Pauline from the case, but our spunky heroine has ideas of her own. While there's more perky narrative than actual sleuthing, readers who were charmed by the eccentric characters from previous books—Pauline's cross-dressing roommates, Polish family members and sleazy boss Fabio—will find this entry every bit as delightful. Agents, Jay Poyner and Erica Orloff. (Oct.)