Book Review: Cooking the Books

Cooking the books for TYPEPAD

Bonnie S. Calhoun 

SubTitle:  A Sloane Templeton Mystery 

Publisher:  Abingdon Press 

Pages: 304 

List Price: $14.99 

Pub Date:  April 02, 2012 

ISBN:  978-1426733888 

Sloane runs the bookstore, Beckham’s Books & Brews, specializing in antique books, left to her by her mother. Fifi, business manager, and her pistol-packin’ group, the Granny Oakleys, ably assist her. Two men want one book in particular. Each is angry that the other knows about it. Meanwhile, Trey, well-muscled example of Sloane’s bad taste in men, terrorizes her. Though she said goodbye, he still considers her his woman. But she has Andreas. She doesn’t understand why her mother didn’t like him. Fifi also dislikes him. 

Aunt Verlene, worst chef in history, constantly commandeers Sloane for food tests. One day, while Sloane tries not to eat Verlene’s latest culinary delight, they find a cookbook by a famous chef with a wealth-building recipe formerly believed lost. Verlene, sworn to silence, only tells her beauty shop early in the morning. Working girls use it then. Would they mention it to their boyfriends? 

Meanwhile the manager of the real-estate company Rob Landry works for instructs him to play dirty to get Sloane to sell the bookstore. 

Cooking the Books delivers constant suspense well mixed with eccentric characters and humor. I enjoyed it.

Book Review: The Mulligans of Mt. Jefferson


Don Reid

SubTitle:  A Novel 

Publisher:  David C Cook 

List Price: $14.99 

Pages: 336 

ISBN:  978-1434764942 

Mulligan means “do over” and it is the name of a Mt. Jefferson Restaurant.  

Harlan, Buddy, and Cal grew up as best friends—none of them named Mulligan. This story tells of their growing-up years in the thirties to fifties. The adult story takes place in 1959. It starts as Harlan lies in the hospital suffering from a gunshot wound from an early-morning intruder. 

As children, Cal kept them all in trouble. Harlan was the charmer and girl magnet.  Buddy fell in love with his future wife as she practiced the piano in their home. The early years echo Mayberry, RFD, but, in manhood, each man must face his sins and suffer the consequences of them. In one case, he suffers for another’s sin as his business falters. 

As men, Harlan runs a jewelry store, Buddy joins the police force, and Cal becomes a Methodist minister. He never tells us what happened to change him, keeping it as a mysterious secret. All three manage parental businesses as young men. Later, as a police officer, Buddy must be tough as he tries to get the truth from the reticent Harlan and his wife Darcy. Cal tries to comfort them all. Will their friendship survive this difficult period? 

The reader will find the characters likeable and the ending satisfyingly unexpected. The writing carries you along in a readable sequence. However, the long descriptions of their growing-up years slow the story. Perhaps they would fit better coming gradually throughout the mystery. At times, I forgot that Harlan lingered in a hospital.

I received this book from NetGalley. This is an honest review.



Book Review: Downfall, Intervention Series


Terri Blackstock

Publisher: Zondervan

Publication Date: March 01, 2012

List Price: $14.99 USD

Pages: 304

ISBN: 978-0310331483

Emily has come through a long fight to overcome her drug addiction, but she has successfully navigated her abstinence for two years. Barbara, her mother, stood by and suffered with her during the worst and Emily is having trouble earning her trust. Barbara believes the nightmare begins anew every time Emily stays out late or does something she did during her years of addiction. Emily attends college now and enjoys her new addiction-free friends—who stay out late. 

When Barbara comes to Atlanta to be near Kent, it brings them back to the place of Emily’s addiction, and to an old enemy she didn’t know she had. The “Avenger” decides he will kill her and her family. He plants a bomb under her car. From that moment, the bodies fall as he gets nearer to her family. Drugged beyond reason, he enjoys the game. 

I had a revelation during the reading of this book. I didn’t realize that ex-addicts can never again take a narcotic, even to help terrible pain. The addict must always feel every bit of pain he or she is victim to—or succumb to painkillers and begin the foggy, insane years again. 

The action is constant, characters believable, and the suspense continuous. Anyone who reads this book should start with the first book. Though the mystery begins and ends in this book, I felt like someone who goes to a party and walks into someone else’s conversation in the middle. The author often refers to happenings in earlier books. If the first books move at the pace of this one, Emily should be agoraphobic as well as addictive. I certainly wouldn’t leave my house—though for her, home offers no safety.


Book Review: The Last Plea Bargain

The Last Plea Bargain typepadRandy Singer 

Publisher:  Tyndale House Publishers 

Pages: 400 

List Price: $13.99 

Pub Date:  03/01/2012 

ISBN:  9781414333212 


Famous attorney, Caleb Tate, defended the man who Jamie Brock believes killed her mother. When his wife dies of poisoning, district attorney, Jamie, wants to see the attorney strung up for murder—and tells him so. He repeats his version of her threat to reporters. Meanwhile Mace James, law professor and only practicing lawyer in the school who spent time in prison, works hard to save supposed killer Antoine Marshall from execution. 

The Last Plea Bargain is a good mystery: more procedural than action packed. If you like realistic details and unexpected twists, you will enjoy this. I did not expect the outcome. Though fiction, this book makes you think about plea bargaining and the death penalty.

Book Review: The Baker's Wife

The Baker's Wife for typepadErin Healy  

Publisher:  Thomas Nelson 

Pages: 352 

List Price: $15.99 

ISBN:  9781595547521 


Audrey, a pastor’s wife, finds herself a baker’s wife when a self-righteous detective ruins her husband’s career. Jack Mansfield single-handedly tries and condemns her entire family when his family implodes; and again, when his wife disappears. As he slips into insanity, she must find his wife before he does irreparable damage to both husband and son. The Christians span kindness to fanaticism. Geoff, the baker, acts like a man of God while Jack acts like the devil. 

Without adding spoilers, I thought the author left a few loose ends—for example, what happened with the coach’s feet? Will the poor man be able to continue coaching? 

The Baker’s Wife is a well-written, fast-moving mystery with realistic, usually likeable characters. Audrey’s spiritual gift gives new meaning to the statement, “I know how you feel.”  

Book Review: The Mountains Bow Down, a Sibella Giorello Mystery

Mountains bow down for typepad. Sibella Giorello 

Publisher:  Thomas Nelson 

List Price: $14.99 

Pages: 384 

ISBN:  9781595545350 

Raleigh plans to vacation in Alaska with her mother, aunt, and an irritating clairvoyant, to think about her engagement and her ambivalence about it. However, plans change when a woman disappears and then is discovered hanging off the side of the cruise ship. 

As an FBI agent, Raleigh realizes that the vacation is over. Additionally, when she asks her office for help, a handsome agent she remembers as a down-putting thorn-in-her-side volunteers to join her. She can’t forget the trouble he caused her as a new FBI agent. 

Raleigh also must admit that her mother’s fragile mental state worsens by the day. She feels responsible for the deterioration. She feels worse when her mother, afraid of her, refuses to see her in the hospital. 

This book is for those who enjoy clues and forensics. Raleigh works through the evidence with precision and her conclusions ring true. The author knows forensics, or has a good adviser. The action slows in places. Readers find more a logic puzzle than an action movie--with exceptions.

The background story of family gives truth and interest to Raleigh’s character. Though Raleigh is Christian, it doesn’t have much to do with the story, although there is nothing a Christian would avoid. Crimes happen off screen without a lot of description. Though one of the villains is a pornographer, the author handles descriptions of his pornography lightly.

A good novel for those who enjoy unusual facts and detail.

Book Review: Burying the Hatchet, "A Kentucky Geezers Mystery"

Burying the hatchet Chris Well

ISBN 978-1-60260-457-5

Publisher: Barbour Publishing, Inc.

256 pages 

Price: $10.99 

When Earl had to leave his retirement home, Pastor Andrew Benton and his family offered him a place to stay. Now the pastor sat in jail accused of murder. The pastor did a fiery sermon against Montague Black, famed psychic, even saying that the Lord says we must kill those who engage in the dark arts. He said Montague either took his psychic powers from demons or merely conned his audience. Either way, the pastor wasn’t a fan. When the papers picked up the story of the sermon, the pastor agreed to talk to Montague, but when he burst out of the meeting room with a bloody letter opener in his hand, and Montague lay dead on the floor, his guilt seemed obvious. Earl doubted that he could help and told the two women to leave it to the professionals, but Gloria and Jenny pulled him in. 

I enjoyed this well-paced mystery. I had no idea who-dun-it until the end. In addition, it includes a senior citizen romance and, in the background, a college romance. The characters realistically walk across the pages, and the reader likes them: well worth reading.

Book Review: Hand of Fate, Not a Cozy Mystery

Hand of fate for typepad

Lis Wiehl with April Henry

Thomas Nelson  

ISBN 978-1-59554-706-4

Hardcover: 320 pages

Price: $24.99, discounted on

When Jim Fate, the talk show host with the hot running mouth gets murdered during his show, listeners and crew think terrorists might have sent the deadly poison. As people fall in the street, it seems to prove it. But as Allison and Nic work the case, that becomes only one possibility. They realize that they would have less trouble looking for people who like him. 

The inside book flap (library copy) lists author Lis Wiehl as “former federal prosecutor.” Allison also has that job. The police and court details are excellent. Only someone who worked those venues could show those scenes so convincingly. 

Christian characters pray and live their faith but don’t mistake this book for a cozy mystery. Parts of it turn raw (the reason for my reservations). 

The three well-drawn friends who people Hand of Fate, as they try to solve the mystery, suffer tragedy. We worry about Cassidy when she falls asleep in a tub full of water after taking sleeping pills with wine. And Nic, African-American, has a daughter with green eyes. Why? And why does Nic reject all men? 

With a small letdown in the middle as the women follow clues, this book is constantly suspenseful. When you think you have solved a clue, the book takes a stunning turn you didn’t see coming. 

I ordered this book from my public library after finding it listed on an online Christian bookstore. If you like solid suspense you will enjoy this book. Having said that, one scene is so brutal Christians need to be aware that it can be disturbing to those trying to live by Philipians 4:8. That scene is anything but "good and lovely."