4 April 2012

Review: Cooking the Books by Bonnie Calhoun

Sloane Templeton has it all - a successful business, a handsome Greek boyfriend and a solid relationship with God. Well, she owns a bookshop but really wants to work in computer forensics. No one except her likes her Greek boyfriend (significant other?), and God seems to be out to lunch some days.  Not only has she inherited Beckhams Books & Brews and its offbeat manager from her mother, but she has also acquired a rare book that could be worth a lot of money – if she lives to see it. She is receiving cyber-threats but dismisses them as pranks, until the FedEx pack with the dead rat arrives. Then it becomes apparent that someone means to harm her if she doesn't obey - but obey what?

So begins a merry chase featuring two mysterious and valuable books, two violent exes, a bookclub called the Granny Oakleys who don’t seem to read any books, and a real estate agent who may or may not be working on the right side of the law. While most of the story is told by Sloane, there are scenes in the third person providing some background information and suspense. Sloane has a distinctive and engaging voice Sloane has a wicked sense of humour, which was one of the best aspects of Cooking the Books. She comments that her ex-husband tried to divorce her by way of the cemetery, her aunt is from the shallow end of the gene pool and when her uncle died of food poisoning, the coroner was careful to point out that the food poisoning was not the result of her aunt's cooking (which is apparently legendary, and not in a good way).

While Sloane is spunky, funny and generally likeable, she has poor taste in men and a tendency to try and do things herself rather than asking for help. This is not always wise and is occasionally annoying - independence is not a positive trait when being stalked by a violent ex.  Call 911, for goodness sake!

As with many current books there are a series of discussion questions at the end. The fact that Sloane is a flawed character who has made a lot of mistakes means that these are more thought provoking than most.  If you are looking for a light-hearted mystery with a cast of slightly suspicious characters (and a handful who are more for comic relief), then you will enjoy Cooking the Books.

Thanks to Abingdon Press and NetGalley for providing a free ebook for review.

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