Thursday, February 28, 2008

Mystery Book Review: Murder, Mayhem and a Fine Man by Claudia Mair Burney

Mysterious Reviews, mysteries reviewed by the Hidden Staircase Mystery Books, has written a review of Murder, Mayhem and a Fine Man by Claudia Mair Burney. For our blog readers, we are printing it first here in advance of its publication on our website.

Murder, Mayhem and a Fine Man by Claudia Mair BurneyBuy from

Murder, Mayhem and a Fine Man by
An Amanda Bell Brown Mystery

Howard Publishing (Trade Paperback)
ISBN-10: 1-4165-5194-8 (1416551948)
ISBN-13: 978-1-4165-5194-2 (9781416551942)
Publication Date: January 2008
List Price: $12.99

Synopsis (from the publisher): Amanda Bell Brown knows that life as a forensic psychologist isn't quite as cool as it looks on prime-time TV. But when she turns thirty-five with no husband or baby on the horizon, she decides she's gotta get out and paint the town -- in her drop-dead red birthday dress. Instead, she finds herself at the scene of a crime -- and she just may know who the killer is. She needs to spill her guts, but not on the handsome lead detective's alligator shoes -- especially if she wants him to ask her out. A complicated murder investigation unearths not just a killer but a closet full of skeletons Amanda thought were long gone. Murder, mayhem, and a fine man are wreaking havoc on her birthday, but will her sleuthing leave her alive to see past thirty-five?

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 for contributing her review of Murder, Mayhem and a Fine Man and to Simon & Schuster for providing an a copy of the book for this review.

Review Copyright © 2008 — Hidden Staircase Mystery Books — All Rights Reserved.

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  1. I am so impressed with your site. There are many great books you have posted. After reading Landmark Status, I have been completely hooked on mystery books.

    Thanks again

  2. I tried to read this book. I only got about 90-plus pages in. The chick lit was boring and the romance was silly. The humor was good. There just wasn't enough mystery at that point in the book. I give it 2 stars.


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