Thursday, December 28, 2006

Claudia Mair Burney's Death, Deceit, and Some Smooth Jazz ~ Reviewed

Death, Deceit, and Some Smooth Jazz
By Claudia Mair Burney
Published by NavPress
ISBN 1576839796

Amanda Bell Brown is a woman on the edge. Between ignoring an insistent biological clock and nursing a broken heart, she's met her quota of problems. But life takes a turn for the better when former boyfriend, Lieutenant Jazz Brown shows up unannounced at her door. Jazz wants to reconnect and make their relationship work. There's just one tiny, potential problem; he's accused of murdering his ex-wife.

I thought there was no way the ragamuffin diva, Claudia Mair Burney, could top her first story, Murder, Mayhem, and a Fine Man. But she did it with Death, Deceit, and Some Smooth Jazz. Totally amazing. The storyline was complex and well-thought-out. She had me really going there. The sugar glider just took the cake. I loved every scene and chapter. The usual tension between hero and heroine was present, but this time it culminated.

The author is a master at the "think of the worst thing that could happen, and make it happen" concept. Man, she had my head turning so often I got whiplash! I have to say, though, that more than once I wanted to slap Bell for messing with Jazz's head. Then again, I totally understood her "issues" that prevented her from accepting love from anyone, and her doubting something that seemed too good to be true. I was with Bell all the way and felt her confusion as well.

Being a social worker and having done counseling with many hurting people for years, I have to say that the author had the criminal psychology portion of the story perfected. The insight into Kate's messed-up past was flawless Either the author did a lot of research, or she is really gifted with wisdom and insight into human character and dysfunction. Every scene was highly believable and amazing. Tension building all the way, but with interjected humor so hilarious that I laughed out loud more than once! Great way to keep the story moving along. Also, the sensual humor totally captivated me. Not to overuse the term, but that was also hilarious, and very honest, IMHO.

The biggest thrill in this story came when I figured out who killed Kate, and I WAS SO RIGHT! The author left just enough clues to point in the direction of the killer, but did so very slowly, and with absolute perfection. Also, the niggling perception that Jazz might have done it was tremendously applied. Wowsa! So does that make me smart, or the author a genuis at making me feel smart. :) You figure that one out.

Death, Deceit, and Some Smooth Jazz is masterful writing and highly entertaining. This probably ranks as my favorite sistah lit title thusfar. If you read it, I'm sure you'll agree that this is some serious entertainment with a powerful message. The takeaway value of this story is what made me love it so much. Plus, the mystery was compelling and complex. Man, the details involved in the plot were plentiful and so well-done it had me reeling. But I loved every minute of it. Oh, and the forensics were perfect. Excellent crime writing. Bravo! Get this one.

Reviewed by Michelle Sutton (pen name)

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