Murder, Mayhem, and a Fine Man
Claudia Mair Burney
Howard (Simon & Schuster), Feb 19 2008, $12.99
In Michigan, Carly Brown treats her younger sister forensic psychologist Dr. Amanda Bell Brown to dinner at Fishbones on the latter’s thirty-fifth birthday. However, the medical examiner is on call so when she receives a page to come to a murder scene, Carly takes Amanda with her. At the crime scene, Carly introduces Amanda to police detective Jazz Brown (no relation to the two sisters), who leads the investigation. They are attracted to one another and he invites her inside for her opinion. Used to working at jails and having never met a corpse, she still provides interesting insight to the double homicides before puking on Jazz’s shoes.
Jazz learns that Bell, a theologian, has investigated toxic churches where nasty cults surface. He asks for her help and she takes him to her mentor septuagenarian Dr. Mason “Pop” May who insists he is the one for her. As Jazz and Bell work on the case, they begin to fall in love, but he insists no relationship can occur between them; he offers no explanation except that he is celibate. As they argue and psychoanalyze one another, Bell goes out on her own frightening Jazz once he realizes what she is doing.
This is a fine police procedural due to the fascinating lead couple as each struggle with desire and rejection. The investigation into what seems a cult murder mystery is cleverly designed so that the audience follows the clues, but also gain insight into Bell and Jazz. Although his celibacy vow is invoked too often, fans will appreciate this strong tale in which murder and mayhem converge on religion and love.