Review: Cooking The Books By Bonnie S Calhoun

Title: Cooking The Books {A Sloane Templeton Mystery #1}

Author: Bonnie S Calhoun

Published: Abingdon Press April 2012

Synopsis: After her mother dies from a heart attack, Sloane Templeton goes from Cyber Crimes Unit to bookstore owner before she can blink. She also “inherits” a half-batty store manager; a strange bunch of little old people from the neighborhood who meet at the store once a week, but never read books, called the Granny Oakleys Book Club; and Aunt Verline, who fancies herself an Iron Chef when in reality you need a cast iron stomach to partake of her culinary disasters. And with a group like this you should never ask, “What else can go wrong?” A lot! Sloane begins to receive cyber threats. While Sloane uses her computer forensic skills to uncover the source of the threats, it is discovered someone is out to kill her. Can her life get more crazy?

Status: Read from April 01 to 02, 2012 — I own a copy {Courtesy Abingdon Press/NetGalley}

My Thoughts:

Cooking the Books is the first of Bonnie S Calhoun’s debut series that combines humour and mystery. Once a cyber crimes specialist, Sloane Templeton has inherited Beckham’s Brew and Books after the sudden death of her mother. As a reluctant owner/manager, Sloane is happy for her mothers best friend, FiFi to have her head, she has too much else to worry about including her Aunt Verlene’s culinary adventures, her abusive ex boyfriends threats, a curious detective and a gun toting seniors book club.

Cooking the Books is the type of mystery I enjoy when I am craving a laugh or two. Sloane is an amateur sleuth with a snarky sense of humor, surrounded by quirky characters, who stumbles awkwardly into an array of criminal conspiracies.
In this instance Sloane is caught up in the middle of several situations both personal and professional. In amongst grieving after the sudden death of her mother, her ex-husband is suing her for more money, her abusive ex boyfriend won’t leave her alone and her new relationship is starting to show fine cracks. Meanwhile a local realtor is hounding her to sell the building that houses the bookstore, strange messages keep appearing on the store computer system, her aunt is targeted by thieves and a rare book sparks a bidding war. The development of the various story threads are somewhat uneven, the plot is busy, perhaps a touch too crowded, though some threads are left open ended to be, I assume, picked up in the next installment. The pace is pretty frantic mainly because of the snappy dialogue in the first half and then the action of the second half.
Cooking the Books is equally as busy with an interesting cast of supporting characters including the feisty FiFi, flaky Aunt Verlene and frightening ex. There is also the Mick Jagger lookalike hairdresser, a group of gun toting seniors, a disturbed middle age bookstore patron, a cute detective and more. As a Christian novelist, Calhoun does include is the odd mention of God and prayer but it doesn’t intrude on the story.
The writing is good, the dialogue believable and witty. There were a few small errors I imagine would have been taken care of for publication. I do think that the story could have been scaled back a little, sometimes less is more, but that seems like a silly complaint.

Calhoun barely allows you to draw breath during this fast paced farce, you are either laughing too hard at exploding eggs or holding your breath as Sloane brandishes a gun in defense of her life. Cooking the Books is a light and entertaining read for cosy mystery fans and I will be interested in seeing where Calhoun takes the series.

Available To Purchase

@Amazon I @B&N I @BooksAMillion

4 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Rachelle Lerner
    Apr 04, 2012 @ 09:14:30

    Sounds great to mix humor and mystery.



  2. MonieG
    Apr 04, 2012 @ 10:00:21

    Sounds like a fun one. I’m adding it to my wish list. Thanks!!



  3. Stephanie @ Read in a Single Sitting
    Apr 04, 2012 @ 14:47:58

    Oh, this one sounds good–one for my list of books about books, maybe?



  4. bonniescalhoun
    Apr 08, 2012 @ 00:42:30

    Thank you for reading my novel, and thank you for hosting me on your blog.



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