Cooking the Books: A Sloane Templeton Mystery

Cooking the Books: A Sloane Templeton Mystery

3.8 48
by Bonnie Calhoun

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


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 herselfan 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 isout to killher. Can her life get more crazy?

"Bonnie Calhoun's first Sloane Templeton mystery, Cooking the Books, is one of the most delightful new fiction voices I've read in years. My only complaint--waiting for the sequel. If this book doesn't have you ROFLOL, you'd better check your pulse!"--Jeanette Windle

"Bonnie Calhoun's debut novel, Cooking the Books, is as fun and quirky as the author herself. The cast of characters brims with unexpected humor and heart, and Sloane's take on the world around her keeps the reader eagerly turning pages to see what she'll say or do next. I look forward to more Sloane Templeton adventures."--Sandra D. Bricker, award-winning author of the Emma Rae Creation series that began with Always the Baker, Never the Bride

"What do a gangsta ex-boyfriend, gunslinging grannies, computer hacking, two very unusual books, and the world’s worst chef all have in common? You’ll find them in Bonnie Calhoun’s debut novel, Cooking the Books. It’s a one-of-a-kind a potboiler filled to the brim with plot twists, romance, and humor. A tasty treat for romantic suspense fans."--Rick Acker, author of When the Devil Whistlesand Dead Man's Rule

"Bonnie S. Calhoun is a master weaver of snarky humor and suspense. Cooking the Books is fast paced, laugh out loud funny with enough suspense to make you shiver. Sloane is an oxymoron: tough as nails on crime and injustice, yet her Aunt Verline and Fifi, her nutty store manager, manipulate her. Novel Rocket and I give it a high recommendation. It's a must read."--Ane Mulligan, Sr. Editor Novel Rocket

"Bonnie S. Calhoun pens a heroine with snap and pizzazz. Sloane Templeton wonders why an old book is cause for bullets, and whether her refusal to sell her business justifies harrassment. A fast-paced mystery full of colorful characters and a last minute twist--what's not to love?"--S. Dionne Moore, Author of Promise Brides, 2010 and 2011 Carol Award Finalist

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
Sloane Templeton inherits a Brooklyn bookstore after her mother dies, a bookstore that’s in the sights of a realty company that would love to add the land to a development project. Sloane’s urbane psychiatrist boyfriend is an improvement over her ex, a gangbanger type. Her aunt Verlene is a cooking show run amok. Not long after Sloane refuses the offer to sell the store, bad things start happening on her store’s computers, and she must deal with a rare book worth a million dollars. A lot of ingredients get thrown into Calhoun’s plot pot. Her mashup of comedy, urban fiction, romance, and suspense doesn’t hang together, and some of the comedy is juvenile (boogers, anyone?). On the plus side, Sloane Templeton is a fierce, sometimes funny voice. Harder editing would better channel it. Agent: Terry Burns. (Apr.)

Product Details

Abingdon Press
Publication date:
Product dimensions:
5.50(w) x 8.70(h) x 0.70(d)

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Cooking the Books

A Sloane Templeton Novel

By Bonnie S. Calhoun

Abingdon Press

Copyright © 2012 Bonnie S. Calhoun
All rights reserved.
ISBN: 978-1-4267-3388-8


One month later ...

The car jerked as though possessed.

I inhaled sharply, holding onto the breath as tightly as I gripped the smooth wood railing with one hand and my garbage bag with the other. I peered down from the landing on the floor below my apartment at the car parked closest to the building.

My heart drummed a monster cadence that pounded on the blood vessels behind my eyes, causing pinpoint stars to float in front of my vision. Was I really seeing this or had I not had enough coffee yet this morning?

Yes. It was no flashback from my days of old. The car still shook.

A warm summer breeze drifted across my skin as I continued to stare down at the vehicle. I shivered. I wasn't cold. It was fear.

What was I, an idiot? I had to will my foot to descend to the next step. At the moment, my feet were apparently smarter than I was. They knew danger. A smart person would turn around and go back upstairs, through the apartment and down the front stairs. But no, I apparently didn't emanate from that smart gene pool. If something could be considered dangerous or reckless, my name was probably attached somewhere.

My dear mom, God rest her soul, always said, "Fools rush in where angels fear to tread."

Yeah, let's not mention that angels must have practiced running for the clouds every time the name Sloane Templeton came up as an assignment. I had a knack for turning them into a bruised and battered little fife-and-drum corps, complete with head bandages and crutches.

A woman's screech echoed from the closed interior of the car.

I gasped and stumbled back against the step, raking my calf on the unyielding wood. I winced. As I tried to steady myself, my left hand lost its grip on the garbage bag I was carrying. It rolled down the rest of the stairs in slow motion and plopped beside the Dumpster.

I stared at it. That's one way to get it down there.

An animal-like howl rolled though the air. I stiffened.

Lord, help me! She's being attacked.

There was an innocent woman in there. Call the police! Why didn't I think of it five minutes ago? I felt my pockets. No cell phone, just my gun in one pocket, and keys in the other. I must have left the phone downstairs on my desk in the bookstore last night. Figures, I never have it when I need it.

A muffled scream.

Electric fear zipped up my spine. My brain ticked off the options. Up the stairs and down the front. Shudder. Pass the car and around to the front. Either way, to get to a phone was going to take time that might rob this woman of her life. I had to do something now. I was the only one here.

How? Don't be stupid! I have a gun in my pocket. Yeah, but I've never confronted another person with my weapon. This is crazy and reckless. I could be overpowered. They could take my gun and shoot me.

A moan. Banging. Another scream.

No! I have to do something. Now!

With a trembling hand, I pulled the registered .38 from the pocket of my baggy linen trousers. Against my wishes, Mom had badgered me until I accepted her transferring the weapon to me right before her passing. Her excuse was that I needed protection as a store owner in our crime-ridden area. Although I didn't have a clue about what crime she was referring to, I did have a good guess about the criminals. This was a new day, and fear was not going to create any more victims around me than I could help.

As I pulled the gun from my pants, the thumb hammer snagged on the top of my pocket, flipping the weapon out of my shaking hand. I lunged for it. Fingers clawed at empty air. Agh!

I flinched as it hit the step, expecting the gun to discharge and shoot me in my smarter-than-me foot.

The weapon tumbled down two more treads of the wooden staircase, and spun to the edge, hanging there for a split second before continuing its descent. It bounced down another step, spun a couple more times, and came to rest with the barrel facing in my direction. It mocked me as though I was playing spin the bottle. Tag ... you're it!

A woman's pleading voice resonated from the shaking car.

My first instinct was to leave the gun right where it lay and run away. But my inner warrior wouldn't let me back away.

I ran down the few steps and snatched up the snub-nosed gun. The cool metal was foreign in my clammy fingers. Why in the world did I think I could be like my fearless ma, brandishing a weapon, when I'd never held anything more deadly than nail clippers?

I pulled in a sharp breath to calm my teeth-rattling jitters. If I didn't go now, reason would take over. I charged down the stairs. Vaulting over the garbage bag, I snuck up to the passenger side of the car and yanked on the door handle, almost pulling my arm from its socket. The door didn't yield.

Locked. Great! Now in addition to a skinned leg, I had a throbbing shoulder.

The windows dripped foggy moisture on the inside, masking the interior. I couldn't see a thing.

The woman needed my help. I suddenly summoned an inordinate amount of bravery and slapped my hand on the glass with the same authority Officer Murphy had used on the car Tim Owens and I were in when I was eighteen. "Open the door!"

I stepped back, sucked in a breath, and imagined the worst, waiting for the attacker to launch from the car, and not having the least clue of what I would do. Instead ... silence. Nothing. No answer. Touching the side of the car, I could feel the thumping. It imitated pounding feet.

"Let her go or I'll break this window!"

How? By shooting it out? Bad idea. No shooting when you can't see what you're shooting at.

The cries ceased as the vehicle stopped trembling. A hand swiped across the glistening fog inside the window and a wide-eyed female face appeared.

"Are you okay? Open the door." I grabbed for the handle again, then let go. What if some big angry dude charged me?

A lock clicked.

I backed away. The door didn't open.

I tamped down my fear, backed up another step, and raised the weapon like I knew what I was doing. Holding it with one hand cupped in the other, I rested my trembling finger along the trigger guard.

"Open the door now. Let her out."

The door opened a hair.

I lunged and snatched the handle, jerking it open all the way. "Come out with—"

I was staring down at a middle-aged woman with sleep-encrusted eyes and chestnut brown hair haphazardly pulled up in a claw clip.

Her eyes grew wide at the sight of the gun. She wrapped her arms around her head. "Please don't shoot me!"

A whimper escaped her throat as she pulled her feet up onto the seat and tucked her knees against her chest.

I glanced around the inside of the car as the thick moist air clung to my face like a mask. I half expected to see water dripping from the headliner.

The woman was alone.

I lowered the gun to my side. Relief. "It's all right. I'm not going to hurt you. I heard you scream and thought you were being attacked. This neighborhood isn't the safest of places."

The woman dropped her arms. "I'm sorry." She rubbed her hands across her eyes like a little child. "I was having a nightmare."

"Nightmare? Were you in my parking lot all night?" With a solid feeling of averted-disaster relief, I slipped the .38 back into my pocket. The added weight pulled on the drawstring cinched tightly at my waist. I could feel the cool metal against my leg.

The woman's eyes darted around as though she was looking for an avenue of escape. "I was just waiting for you to open, so I could get coffee and do some writing."

"I'm on my way to open the store." I hesitated. It was not lost on me that she did not answer my question about sleeping in the car all night. I guess that was her business, not mine.

"Come on." Why did I say that? I didn't even know this woman, but she looked like a lost puppy.

While the woman grabbed her laptop case from the backseat, I snuck another look inside, just to be safe.

We crossed the parking lot and walked down the narrow alleyway to the front of the building. Through the wispy leaves of the honey locust trees, I could see the two mega-high-rise buildings jutting out of the low landscape five blocks up Fulton Street. One high-rise building still looked like a Tinkertoy creation with its unfinished floors and high cranes. I bit down on my lip. The chaotic intrusion of all this redevelopment made my heart hurt.

I pulled the large, jangling lump of Mom's keys from my other pocket. Sometime soon, I needed to divide these up into more manageable quantities. Forget the gun; the keys could be considered a lethal weapon in most circles. Just as I found the appropriate key, a male figure darted from the store doorway.

Hopping back, I nearly tripped over the poor woman shadowing me as my hand flew to my mouth and I stifled a scream. I lashed out with the key ring.

Rob Landry dodged my swing and stood there, grinning goofily.

I shook my head, disgusted that he would think something so juvenile was cute, but relieved that I wasn't being robbed and I hadn't actually clocked him with the killer keys. I gave him the once-over.

Dressed in a starched white shirt, black tie, and sharp pressed black pants, he looked like the door-to-door recruiter for a cult. But it was that infernal briefcase. I stared at it. No doubt, it carried the paperwork that could signal my impending doom as a bookstore owner—if I chose to cooperate.

I tore my gaze from the briefcase and stabbed visual daggers through him. "Rob, one of these days you're going to give me a stroke. Then this building will be tied up in the litigation of my estate for the next twenty years."

I brushed past him and pushed the key into the lock.

"Mrs. Sloane Templeton, I have been authorized—"

"Dear Lord, save me!" I prayed and swung around to glare at him—his grin looking like the Joker from the Batman comics. "You've been authorized all right—authorized to drive me to distraction." Granted I didn't like being a bookseller, but I liked even less the idea of selling him the building I had grown up in.

I unlocked the front door to Beckham's Books & Brew and ushered the brunette woman past the still-grinning Landry. Swinging around to face him, I poked a finger in his direction. "And don't ever call me Missus. I divorced that lowlife six months ago." Let's not go into the fact that he kept trying to divorce me by way of Shady Grove cemetery, and the cheapskate would probably have buried me in a cardboard box rather than paying for pine.

I shooed him back and closed the door in his face. Why did men behaving badly always seem to gravitate to me like insects to grease? I needed to find cologne that worked as a roach repellant.

Excerpted from Cooking the Books by Bonnie S. Calhoun. Copyright © 2012 Bonnie S. Calhoun. Excerpted by permission of Abingdon Press.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.


Meet the Author

Bonnie S. Calhoun is Owner/Director of Christian Fiction Blog Alliance helping to promote Christian fiction with blog tours. She is owner/publishes of Christian Fiction Online Magazine devoted to readers and writers of Christian fiction. As Northeast Zone Director for American Christian Fiction Writers (ACFW), she was named ‘2011 Mentor of the Year.” She is President of (CAN) Christian Authors Network, and also Appointment Coordinator for both the Colorado Christian Writers Conference and the Greater Philadelphia Christian Writers Conference.

In her spare time she is an avid social media junkie, and teaches Facebook, Twitter, blogging and HTML. Bonnie and her husband live in a log cabin on 15 acres in upstate area of Binghamton, New York with a dog and cat who consider the humans as wait-staff. Her website is

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Cooking the Books: A Sloane Templeton Mystery 3.9 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 48 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I enjoyed the book...though i should have stopped reading it because Sloane was very annoying. I felt she was acting like an idiot half the time. I felt the author was trying too hard to be funny and things that should have been obvious for Sloane not to do she did itanyway. All in all, i read it mainly because i wanted to know how it was going to end. This is one book i am not interested in reading again.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Amateurish writing, full of plot holes. Through most of it, I just wanted to get through it and be done; it did pick up near the end and delivered some suspense, although the main elements were telegraphed early in the book. Other key plot lines were just left hanging with no explanation. As a freebie, it was just ok; I would not pay for it and even for free there are better ways to spend your time.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
While i love mysteries, this was not engaging for me. I finished the book by reading only the topic sentences for the last half of the story and I could still see it coming. There was one engaging chapter near the end. So maybe this will develop...
wyogalAH More than 1 year ago
Not my usual style but loved it.... the good thing with free fridays, I'm reading a large varity of books, even ones I really wudn't pick myself.....
MaureenST More than 1 year ago
Once I picked up this captivating book, I could not put it down! It grabs you and compels you to keep reading. Sloane Templeton has lost her Mom, and now has taken over running her Bookstore, along with Fifi her Mom's partner [another Colorful Character]. She has also begun a new relationship with a Greek Doctor..Andreas, having left a bad relationship with Trey [who doesn't seem to understand it is over!] This story has it all, death threats and threatening messages, along with in person threats by people wanting her Mom's property. Also we meet delightful Aunt Verlene...the local Chef...who can't cook, and has regular visits from the fire department! There are also the Senior the gun range no less. Add a very valuable antique book, and a couple of archaeological desperately wanting it! I so enjoyed the subtle humor and the catchy phrases like "Fifi Andretti" or "Play Deputy Dawg", and "Red Velvet Hips".....are great and give you some chuckles. Also the nail biting end will keep you riveted! Enjoy!! I received this book from Netgalley and the Publisher Abingdon Press. and was not required to give a positive review.
Janna6 More than 1 year ago
This book is so much fun! It has a fast paced scenario backed by a fun, quirky leading lady who is full of flaws which just makes her fun to root for. Somehow she has ended up at danger's door, or rather danger has come knocking at hers - she just isn't sure why or who is behind it all. The unexpected death of her mom a few months ago has left her to run the bookstore/coffee shop that her mom had owned... but she really knows nothing about books and doesn't really care for them. She is grieving, trying to move on romantically from a failed, abusive relationship (but he won't take a hint) and now her life is in danger. What more could go wrong? Well, Sloane Templeton is about to find out! There were a few things that I felt got wrapped up really quick at the end when I thought they would unravel just a little slower, but overall this was just a fun book with a fun main character that I hope to see more of!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I have luke warm feelings toward this book. The first 150 pages dragged on and felt really repetitive and disjointed for a significant chunk of those pages. The last 100 or so pages were more fast paced and got me to where i couldn't put the book down because i wanted to see how things were going to end. I was not in love with the characters...most of them were not well developed enough for me to actually feel connected to them in any way. The plot was a mess in many places. The teaser at the beginning made absolutely no sense until the very end, and two of the side plots are never even resolved. The side plots took over as main plots at times and then the author just dropped them so you never get a resolution. This is not the worst book i have ever read, but it is also not my favorite by any stretch of the imagination. I am not sure if i will be reading any more in this series because, to be frank, i am not sure i have the patience for another book written like this.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I enjoyed this book very much. With some comedy and mystery was well worth the read.
MKCP More than 1 year ago
I really enjoyed this book. Ms Calhoun is a very good writer. Very good, easy reading
nurse_writer More than 1 year ago
The characters are quirky, the plot realistic, and the dialog great. This is a fun read while fulfilling all the need for action and tension.
sadsack More than 1 year ago
Very well done! A little slow at the beginning but well worth the wait for a very good read. Can't wait for the next one!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Enjoyable characters and storyline, lighthearted, good vacation read.
ibjoy1953 More than 1 year ago
MY THOUGHTS ON THIS BOOK Sloane Templeton didn’t ask for all that was happening to her, but she had no choice but the accept it! Taking over Beckham’s Books and Brew after her moms death brought on some strange people in Sloane’s life. The store manager and the Granny Oakleys Book Club group was enough to deal with without having to eat Aunt Verline’s cooking, if that’s what you can call what she presented as food! In the first part of “Cooking the Books we also get to meet Sloane’s ex-boyfriend Trey, and there are reasons he is an ex. Also her new friend and attraction, the Greek boy Andreas Comino, which Trey is not happy about at all. And throughout the book we get to meet even more interesting and colorful character that were so well created by the author. Even though this is a debut novel, you will think Bonnie Calhoun has been writing books for a long time. Along with her wonderful and fun loving characters, well most of them, there is so much happening in this story and there are so many twists and turns you never know what is coming next. What makes this book so enjoyable for me is the way Bonnie inter-twines; the taking over a new business, grieving over a mom, inheriting quirky characters, a jerk ex-husband and an even bigger jerk ex-boyfriend, someone trying to kill you, and adds in a little romance, mystery, a feisty FiFi and, an aunt that can’t cook, and writes a story that will make you laugh, sometimes cry, and fall in love with Sloane as if she is your own daughter. It takes a good writer to have so much going on in a book and pull it all together and make it enjoyable. I highly recommend this book for you to read and enjoy. Run out and grab a copy, get a cup of Java and sit down for a nice, enjoyable, relaxing read with Sloane Templeton and “Cooking the Books” I want to thank Abingdon Press and Bonnie Calhoun for providing me a copy of this book. I have heard that Bonnie’s dream is to be an author, and I am so happy that she has fulfilled that dream. I look forward to many more books from Bonnie in the future. As much as Bonnie does with Christian Fiction Blog Alliance, Christian Fiction Online Magazine and all of the other things she does for the authors, readers and world of Christian fiction, it is an honor to be one of the reviewers for her debut novel.
TarHeelGirl00 More than 1 year ago
"Cooking the Books" is an enjoyable read that, although categorized as Christian fiction, is very mainstream and should appeal to both believers and non-believers alike. The catchy dialogue between the characters is intertwined with both old sayings and pop culture references. On one hand, it's a book about relationships--as Sloane comes to terms with her family, friends, and both past and present flames. On the other hand, it's a mystery as Sloane strives to figure out why her life is in danger. Both angles complement each other well and lead to a satisfying finale.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I enjoyed the characters in this book,and would read another book by this author.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Not easy to read but worth it.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Sloane Templeton leaves her high powered Cyber Crimes computer job to take over her Mother's book store after she suddenly dies. The store is located in a lovely, but 'safety challanged' old neighborhood, and is soon in 'demand' to be purchased by some shady characters.¿¿Sloan has some interesting characters of her own that she seems to have inherited with the book store. These include her store manager, who was her Mom's best friend and a feisty gun toasting 'book group' leader.¿¿Plus an aunt who sees herself as the next Top Chef, but she can't seem to keep her mind and her actions moving together----a multi client for the fire department.¿¿Add in a¿¿quirky group of old book lovers, or maybe they are more like the store's lookout possie for deterring trouble.¿¿And trouble Sloan does have!! Sloane choice of boyfriends/husbands is less than great.¿¿There are cyber terrorists threatening her, and a developer who wants her to 'get out of the building-NOW'.¿¿Even her business has thrown a hook in her new life, as the store apparently has a terribly expensive book available that a couple of men 'must have now'! So how does Sloan get herself out of all these dangerous and often hilarious situations?¿¿You will laugh, panic, pray, and most of all read faster and faster to see how she survives through it all.¿¿ This first book by Bonnie Calhoun is bound to be the first of many in this new series.¿¿If you like laughter , danger, and mysteries with just the right touch of Christianity, you'll love this book as much as I loved it!!
HeartofaBookWorm More than 1 year ago
I learned that Bonnie Calhoun had released her debut novel and I had the privilege to review it, I was so excited! I have reviewed for Christian Fiction Blog Alliance under Bonnie's leadership for a few years now and can't say enough about Mrs. Bonnie. She keeps me laughing whether it's an email, or her hilarious Facebook posts! I KNEW her book was going to be nothing short of wonderful... and I was RIGHT ON! COOKING THE BOOKS is fabulous, funny, and filled with just the right amount of suspense! The mystery will keep you wondering and you will love each character from Sloane, her Aunt Verlene, her Greek boy-friend, Andreas, and all those who visit the bookstore. I highly recommend Cooking the Books! I CANNOT wait to read Bonnie's next book! I can tell she will definitely be one of my favorite authors for sure! Thank you Bonnie! You did good my friend! Sooo Good!
anemulligan More than 1 year ago
Bonnie S. Calhoun is a master weaver of snarky humor and suspense. Cooking the Books is fast paced, laugh out loud funny with enough suspense to make you shiver. Sloane is an oxymoron: tough as nails on crime and injustice, yet her Aunt Verline and Fifi, her nutty store manager, manipulate her. Novel Rocket and I give it a high recommendation. It's a must read.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
VERY slow start (for over 100 pages), then more and more frenetic til the very sudden end, perhaps leading into a second book. I made it through this one, but not sure I'd care to read more by this author.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I love little mysteries like this. If you're like me and like quick reads this is the book for you.
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