Death, Deceit & Some Smooth Jazz (Amanda Bell Brown Mysteries, No. 2)

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9781416551911: Death, Deceit & Some Smooth Jazz (Amanda Bell Brown Mysteries, No. 2)
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Amanda Bell Brown is a woman on the edge.

How's a woman supposed to nurse a broken heart when her pet sugar glider is driving her batty, or is that squirrelly? The deafening tick of her biological clock and having no Jazz to soothe her makes Amanda Bell Brown one frazzled forensic psychologist.

When Lieutenant Jazz Brown shows up at Amanda's door unannounced, her heart competes with her head as she struggles to do the right thing. Jazz says he wants to reconnect and make their relationship work. But there's just one tiny problem: his ex-wife is found murdered -- in his apartment.

Now Amanda has to strap on her sleuthing shoes -- the cute gold pair -- and work against time to discover the truth, both for herself and for Jazz. But as the body count rises and surprising clues begin to surface, Amanda wonders if anyone can know the heart of a man -- especially her man.

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About the Author:

Claudia Mair Burney is the author of the Amanda Bell Brown Mystery series. The first in the series, Murder, Mayhem, and a Fine Man was released in 2006. She lives in Ann Arbor with her husband, five of their seven children, and a hamster.

Excerpt. Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved.:

Chapter One

I had to give up Jazz. Not the music; the man.

Now I had Amos, and we were going to "bond." I stood in the middle of my living room holding him. I'd put on my favorite pajamas -- the midnight blue pair Carly had gotten for me from Victoria's Secret. They were modest, even if they did have the vs logo on the breast pocket. Cut in the style of men's pajamas and a size too big, they had the effect of looking charmingly baggy on me. I didn't even need a robe with them. Perfect for bonding with the one you love. I could tell Amos liked them.

Amos is my new sugar glider.

I know, nobody knows what a sugar glider is. When the woman at the pet store first mentioned one, I thought she was talking about a kitchen accessory. I hadn't wanted to let her in on my woeful ignorance of household utensils, so I told her a sugar glider sounded intriguing. And intriguing he was.

When she led me over to his cage, I first noticed his peepers. He had big, black, round eyes that reminded me of my pastor and ex-boyfriend Rocky's "I can make you do anything with these" puppy eyes. Don't judge me. Not for that. Having a pastor who is your ex-boyfriend sounds a lot worse than it is. Besides, I've got plenty of real issues for you to choose from.

Amos was roughly the size of a Beanie Baby and looked like a cross between a tiny gray squirrel, a skunk, and a kangaroo -- with the face of a bat. Kinda.

I never would have gotten a pet if my mentor and spiritual father, Dr. Mason May, hadn't recommended it. I'd gone to see him earlier that day, whining endlessly about being manless, being childless, having endometriosis, and about my grief over my eggs, which were aging faster than my mother said I was. I got frustrated while venting to Dr. May and threatened to have an intrauterine insemination procedure done with some stranger-donor's little soldiers. But Dr. May -- Pop, as I called him -- stopped me right there and told me I should pray about the matter some more and buy a pet. That's how I ended up at the exotic pet store near my house, feeling guilty about my baby lust and purchasing something that looked like one of the Crocodile Hunter's furry friends. And we had to bond.

How pathetic am I?

Amos didn't seem very prickly. A little standoffish, yes, but nothing that should have stood in the way of us getting cozy with each other. My initial mistake: I should have put together his cage first. But no, being a psychologist, I wanted to get straight to the attachment process. That's important. I reached into his little Exotic Petz cardboard box -- the kind with the round peepholes -- and picked him up. I could feel him freeze, and I do know body language. I figured it was just nerves bothering him, so I pressed on with the bonding process. Amos didn't complain.

We crossed to my couch. Jazz once described my apartment as "shabby chic meets Africa." Fair enough, I suppose. The ambience I'd created with my eccentric flea-market finds gave my home a comfy, livable feel. I'd often paint my treasures in hues with whimsical-sounding names like old lace, seafoam, and dusty rose. The walls were a sunny buttercup -- I'd called it ocher just months ago, but that was when I'd felt more earthy and African-inspired. Something had happened in my soul, and I'd begun to feel more romantic and feminine. I think it was falling in love with Jazz. Since then I'd given away most of the masks that used to dot the walls and most of my Nigerian baskets. I was trying to make room for Addie Lee Brown paintings and sculptures. But I'd kept a few wood pieces I loved, and I still had all of my textiles -- bright, colorful Kente cloth and a few mud-cloth pieces -- to add warmth and texture. Candles cast a soft glow in the rooms and sweetened the air with rose, vanilla, and jasmine.

I took a seat on the couch and propped my feet on the coffee table, with Amos perched somewhat stiffly on my lap. I thought I'd better tell him a little bit about myself.

"I'm your new mom, Amanda Bell Brown. I'm named after my paternal great-grandmother and favorite diva in the whole wide world. Most people call me Amanda, and some even call me Dr. Brown, but you can call me Bell. That's reserved for the people who love me best."

Amos didn't say anything. I figured sugar gliders weren't very talkative. No problem. I'd fill the silence between us.

"I got you because I need someone to love. I hate to sound like one of those thirty-five-year-old career women who realize too late that they forgot to get pregnant. It wasn't really like that. I had a lot of hurts, but I don't want to talk about that. The point is" -- I stroked his short fur, which made him recoil -- "it seems the only prospect I have for marriage is my pastor, Rocky. That would be too weird; you'll see what I mean if you ever meet him. And then there's Jazz..."

Just saying his name gave me chills. How fine was he? Too fine. Fine like God didn't make him out of the dust of the earth that the rest of us mere mortals were made of. Jazz was made of something sparkly and inspiring. He intoxicated me. No, he made me feel, as Aretha Franklin sang, like a natural woman. But it could never work. He had issues. He kept using the word "unavailable." Not that he had a woman, mind you. Just an ex and a belief that he couldn't remarry. And God bless him, he had too much integrity to lead a woman on. Unfortunately for me, I didn't want anyone but him. And he'd never want me. Not really.

Even Amos didn't seem to be into me. I thought for a moment that, instead of Amos, I should have gotten a rocking chair and a pair of Birkenstocks and resigned myself to a depressed, childless spinsterhood. I told Amos, "I stopped seeing Jazz one month, two days, and three hours ago. I miss him. Now Christmas is coming."

I looked around my place, void of any yuletide cheer. Well, Bell, that was smart, thinking of Christmas. All I needed was to get some poisoned eggnog and put myself out of my misery. I rubbed the top of Amos's head. "I guess it's just you and me."

Either that head rub didn't please Amos, or he didn't like Christmas. He made a hissing sound like he was exhaling smoke from Hades.

The saleswoman hadn't said anything about evil hissing, and I hadn't read the manual.

Then he added to the hissing a raised paw -- a gesture that did not look loving at all. I didn't have to be an astute observer of body language to see that I had myself a little problem.

I was on the couch, so I didn't have the luxury of backing away slowly. I hoped if I cooed and touched him affectionately, he'd relax and see that I was a "good touch" person. But when I gave his silken gray fur, with an adorable black stripe right down his back, just a tiny stroke, the rotten little stinker jumped on my sleeve and tried to kill me.

Our bonding session turned straightaway into When Sugar Gliders Attack.

The saleslady hadn't mentioned anything about aggression.

Amos scratched, bit, and clawed my pajamas like a veritable Tasmanian devil. I screamed. My pathetic manless life flashed before my eyes. I could just see my mother at my funeral, talking smack about me because I'd purchased, of all things, a sugar glider. "I always knew that child didn't have good sense," she'd lament.

Someone pounded on the door.

I leaped from the couch, still screeching, Amos still clinging and assaulting. While the vicious creature shredded my jammies and skin, I managed to unbolt my locks -- a dead bolt and a spare, thanks to Jazz -- and snatched my door open. I didn't bother to ask, "Who is it?"

There stood none other than the man my heart beat for, Lieutenant Jazz Brown, homicide detective. He had his pistol drawn, ready to protect my honor. I noticed, after swiftly taking in his general gorgeousness, four fresh, angry slashes on his face.

In an instant he took in my situational challenge, grabbed the arm that was being attacked, and started pumping it like he was trying to milk me.

I screamed louder.

"Stop all that noise!"

"What? Are you going to arrest me for disturbing the peace?" I yanked my arm away from him as hard as I could, which had the effect of hurling poor Amos across the living room. He landed with a thud on the couch, right in the middle of the cushions.

I hurried over to the couch with Jazz on my heels. My arm ached and throbbed from the battery it had taken.

Amos was as still as a stone.

"Oh, no," I wailed. "I think I killed him."

"Good." Jazz put his gun back in his shoulder holster. He walked to my door and locked it. "You shouldn't open the door like that, Bell," he barked. "I could have been anybody."

"It's not good if I killed him. I'm supposed to love, nurture, and protect him." I touched one of many tender spots on my arm. My motherly instincts hadn't kicked in all the way. I glared at Amos. "The little beast."

"Are you okay?" Jazz took my arm in his hands. He shot a look at Amos and shook his head. "I can't believe you chose this thing for a pet." He gently pulled back the wreckage that was my sleeve.

I ignored his comment and took in his perfect beauty, his sculpted and slender body. He was wearing one of his trademark suits -- the brown one -- and the effect of the color, contrasted with his creamy skin tone, made him look as good as a Hershey's Hug. He wore no overcoat, which was odd for a cold December night, but so was the fact that he was wearing his suit so late into the night. I didn't ponder it too much. Except for the ugly scratches and pinched expression, his white-chocolate face was as fine as ever. Yum. Lord, have mercy on my Jazz-starved soul.

I felt awful for poor Amos. What kind of mother was I, ogling Jazz while my baby could be lying there dead? I wondered if Jazz would arrest me for cruelty to animals. Looking at his relieved expression, I figured not. Still...I glanced at my fallen furry friend. "Jazz! He's so still."

"I'd be still, too, if you threw me across the room," Jazz said. "We need to take care of your arm, Bell." ...

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9781476727110: Death, Deceit & Some Smooth Jazz (An Amanda Bell Brown Mystery)

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Book Description Howard Books, United States, 2008. Paperback. Condition: New. Language: English. Brand new Book. Amanda Bell Brown is a woman on the edge. How's a woman supposed to nurse a broken heart when her pet sugar glider is driving her batty, or is that squirrelly? The deafening tick of her biological clock and having no Jazz to soothe her makes Amanda Bell Brown one frazzled forensic psychologist. When Lieutenant Jazz Brown shows up at Amanda's door unannounced, her heart competes with her head as she struggles to do the right thing. Jazz says he wants to reconnect and make their relationship work. But there's just one tiny problem: his ex-wife is found murdered -- in his apartment. Now Amanda has to strap on her sleuthing shoes -- the cute gold pair -- and work against time to discover the truth, both for herself and for Jazz. But as the body count rises and surprising clues begin to surface, Amanda wonders if anyone can know the heart of a man -- especially her man. Seller Inventory # APC9781416551911

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Book Description Howard Books. Paperback. Condition: New. 416 pages. Dimensions: 8.3in. x 5.4in. x 1.5in.Amanda Bell Brown is a woman on the edge. Hows a woman supposed to nurse a broken heart when her pet sugar glider is driving her batty, or is that squirrelly The deafening tick of her biological clock and having no Jazz to soothe her makes Amanda Bell Brown one frazzled forensic psychologist. When Lieutenant Jazz Brown shows up at Amandas door unannounced, her heart competes with her head as she struggles to do the right thing. Jazz says he wants to reconnect and make their relationship work. But theres just one tiny problem: his ex-wife is found murdered -- in his apartment. Now Amanda has to strap on her sleuthing shoes -- the cute gold pair -- and work against time to discover the truth, both for herself and for Jazz. But as the body count rises and surprising clues begin to surface, Amanda wonders if anyone can know the heart of a man -- especially her man. This item ships from multiple locations. Your book may arrive from Roseburg,OR, La Vergne,TN. Paperback. Seller Inventory # 9781416551911

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