All too often, the trouble with Christian fiction is the saccharine nature of the situations and characters, who seem to operate on The Good Folks Planet where a careful screen shields the delicate reader from the harsher aspects of life. Not so in Murder, Mayhem, and a Fine Man by Claudia Mair Burney, which is witty and earthy, vibrant and fast-paced, peopled with multidimensional characters. On her 35th birthday, Amanda Bell Brown is having dinner with her sister, the local medical examiner, when her sister is called to the scene of a suspicious death. Amanda, a forensic psychologist, tags along, unwittingly slamming into the intersection of the scattered pieces of her lifeChristian, psychologist, woman, survivor of a dark past. On the scene of a double homicide, she meets Jazz, the tall, dark and delicious detective, and although immediate sparks fly between them, both have a commitment to God, and plenty of baggage. Their resolve to stay celibate is continually tested as the two work together to unravel a twisted plot centered on the murky world of cults. Original, richly textured and grounded in the real world, this is nonetheless a genuinely spiritual novel that tackles the gritty questions of faith and honor, hope and despair that any person on any spiritual path must eventually face. Excellent.