Murder, Mayhem and a Fine Man
Review: Claudia Mair Burney's debut mystery introduces Amanda Bell Brown, a 35-year-old forensic psychologist in Murder, Mayhem and a Fine Man. The book reviewed is a reissued, and certainly updated, edition of a book of the same title published in 2006 by Navpress Publishing in which Amanda Bell Brown is turning 40, not 35 as in this version.
Dr. Amanda Bell Brown lives by the words she heard from her late beloved Christian great-grandmother. On her 35th birthday, Amanda (known as Bell to friends and family) accompanies her sister, Carly, a medical examiner, to a crime scene where two men were found dead. There Amanda meets, and immediately falls in love with, a certain Lt. Jazz Brown (no relation), the police detective investigating the crime. When Amanda enters the house of the victims, she remembers she has been in there before under dire, devastating circumstances that she thought she had forgotten. She realizes she knows, rather knew, one of the dead men from those horrible days when they belonged to a cult and lived with a man everyone called "Father." When Amanda tells Jazz she knew one of the men, he immediately asks her to work with him in finding the person or persons who killed the men.
Murder, Mayhem and a Fine Man is sort of an odd mixture of chick lit, comedy, and Christian mystery, but it works (more or less). The "more" part is the murder and mayhem. The plot is credible and Bell is a likeable amateur sleuth. The Biblical quotations that are used throughout the story are appropriate and a terrific addition. And the touch of comedy here and there helps keep the story light and entertaining. The "less" part is the relationship between Bell and Jazz. The attraction between them at times seems forced and there was really no chemistry between the two. In many ways, this budding love story detracts from the murder mystery which is by far the stronger element here.
However, what unites everything here is the engaging character of Bell. She is a refreshing addition to the cast of today's amateur sleuths.
Special thanks to guest reviewer Betty of The Betz Review for contributing her review of Murder, Mayhem and a Fine Man.
Acknowledgment: Simon & Schuster provided a copy of Murder, Mayhem and a Fine Man for this review.
Review Copyright © 2008 — Hidden Staircase Mystery Books — All Rights Reserved
Selected reviews of other mysteries by this author …
Howard Books (Trade Paperback), March 2009
ISBN-13: 9781416551959; ISBN-10: 1416551956
Location(s) referenced in Murder, Mayhem and a Fine Man: Michigan
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Murder, Mayhem and a Fine Man by Claudia Mair Burney — An Amanda Bell Brown Mystery
Publisher: Howard Books
Format: Trade Paperback
Publication Date: January 2008
List Price: $12.99