Lee, what do you think of the titus MotoLite?
The top bike companies are making some sweet trail bikes these days, and the Titus MotoLite is among them. It has 4-5″ of rear travel, proven trail geometry and a Horst Link rear suspension system (which it licenses from Specialized).
The Motolite belongs in the list that includes the Specialized Stumpjumper (my biased choice), Santa Cruz Blur, Turner 5-Spot, Maverick Durance, and other high end trail bikes. The intended ride characteristics, and the prices, are comparable.
Find a good local shop and test ride some bikes. Choose the one that gives you that tingly feeling. Of course, they all might!
The Titus site has a nice comparison of modern suspension designs.