Monday, June 30, 2008

Welcome to the mystery world, Amanda Bell Brown!

Oh man, you gotta get these books by Claudia Mair Burney. Love Janet Evonavich? You'll LOVE Burney!

Death, Deceit and Some Smooth Jazz by Claudia Mair Burney
Reviewed by Darcie Gudger

Complicated is an understatement when used to describe the life of psychologist Dr. Amanda Bell Brown. One month, two days, and three hours ago she broke up with the deliciously hot Lieutenant Jazz Brown. Decked out in a modest pair of midnight-blue Victoria Secret PJ’s (they don’t show anything – honest!), Amanda settled in for a cozy night of bonding with her new pet; a sugar glider. Buying Amos was meant to be a fix for her “baby lust.” Her mommy / sugar glider moment was interrupted when Jazz unexpectedly showed up at her door.

Amanda’s mind exploded with confusing thoughts as the interaction between her and Jazz pushed PG-13 boundaries. What’s the deal? He left her because he believed it wrong to marry her while his ex-wife was still alive. Before the passion reached “bodice ripping” proportions, the phone rang.

Having the medical examiner as your sister can sure kill romance. Jazz’s ex-wife was found dead in Jazz’s apartment on his bed. Carly, worried her sister was hot & heavy with a murderer, demanded Amanda’s presence at the scene of the crime.

Everyone at the Detroit PD along with Carly, believed Jazz was guilty. Jazz swore his innocence to Amanda. Who was telling the truth? Clues from the scene didn’t match up with the Jazz Amanda knew and loved – but how well did she really know her man?

Death, Deceit and Some Smooth Jazz was nearly impossible to put down. Only the cries of my baby, and the sharp teeth of hungry cats forced me to drop the book. Many crime/suspense novels are stronger in plot and weaker in character development. Claudia Mair Burney shatters this mold by creating some of the most memorable and likeable characters in this genre while driving the plot like a seasoned race car driver. As the book progressed, the plot grew more and more intense. Let me not forget to mention the comedy. I laughed so loud I gave myself hiccups.

The good stuff doesn’t stop there. Burney boldly presents the oft ignored issue of sexual purity in the lives of believers. Part of the romantic tension in this story is created by Amanda and Jazz’s struggle to remain in the vertical plane. Amanda, since giving her life to Jesus, pledged purity. Being 35, single, with no children her desire for sex overpowered reason. Both Amanda and Jazz had clouded sexual pasts, but Christ can redeem any and all sin. They were both new creatures fighting old natures. Burney paints the struggle so real, and so raw, some readers may be alarmed. Any reader who’s been there, done that, will be able to relate to Jazz and Amanda, finding encouragement that God never allows you to be tempted beyond what you can bear.

Another detail I loved about Ms. Brown is that she is not a teeny-tiny size zero woman with perfect skin and sexy hair. Being a curvy girl myself, I’m often turned off by heroines who are carbon copies of Maxim Models. Amanda struggles with the way she looks and questions why Jazz would ever find her attractive when his ex-wife was Playboy Bunny material. I’d say over 90% of American women can relate to her in that way as well. I sure do!

Death, Deceit and Some Smooth Jazz is like reading New York Times bestselling author Janet Evanovich without gratuitous sex scenes. Burney’s characters have the spiritual depth and “realness” of the characters found in Brandilyn Collin’s suspense novels and the hilarious plot twists and personalities found in Evanovich’s Stephanie Plumb series.

Folks, this book has it all! I believe I found me another author to add to my GREAT list. I can’t get enough of Burney’s unique voice and perspective.

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