Rox Burkey – Blog Place

Each stand-alone book in this multi-author crime novel series is set in the fictitious, beautiful little Texas Hill Country town of Magnolia Bluff. Each author writes in their preferred sub-genre to allow readers to experience humor, dark dilemmas, suspense, romance, thrills, and spills — told through good storytelling that will keep readers awake past their bedtime, trying to find out whodunit.

Season three of The Magnolia Bluff Crime Chronicles begins in January 2024. Stay tuned.


You Won’t Know How … Or When: A Father Frank Mystery

Father Frank knows of a plot to kill a man. But he hears it in the confessional, so he cannot tell anyone.  Can he protect the man, who doesn’t believe he is a target, even after the first near miss?  The assailant said it would happen this week. The pressure is on Father Frank in a town he doesn’t know and the only clue is that someone is very angry.

Purchase – You Won’t Know How …Or When

James R. Callan masterfully grabs the reader with his opening line-“I’m gonna kill you.” He then keeps the reader on a tight leash through the pages as the pieces of this cozy mystery unfold for the visiting priest after this unexpected confession. Fundamental Canon Law is clear; no priest can reveal someone’s confession without risk of excommunication. Father Frank has one option—find and stop the would-be murderer.

Father Frank came to the Texas Hill Country from East Texas to visit a friend, Father Lee, from seminary. During his first vacation in years, Father Frank looks forward to exploring the town and having friendly conversations. Father Lee’s sister is coming home from the hospital in Austin Saturday afternoon, so he asked Father Frank to handle Saturday evening confessions. Happy to help, the two men seal the deal over a quick lunch.

Father Frank walks around town to discover the differences from his home. Details of Magnolia Bluff expertly unfold with descriptive prose and realistic dialogue. For example, below is the exchange with a delightful yet friendly character.

“Hello.” She extended a hand. “I’m Ember Cole, the pastor here. By the looks of you wandering about aimlessly, I suspect you’re a newcomer to Magnolia Bluff?” “Of sorts,” Father Frank replied, shaking her hand. “You’re correct that I just arrived today.” “Then let me be one of the first to welcome you to our lovely town. And if you don’t have a church here, I’d like to invite you to join us tomorrow.”
“I appreciate the offer, but … my name is Father Frank DeLuca. I’m here visiting my friend Father Lee, the pastor at Christ the King Catholic Church.”
Ember Cole shook his hand and ducked her chin just a little. “Now I’m embarrassed.” She raised her twinkling eyes to look Father Frank in the face. “But you are out of uniform.” They both laughed.
“I’m on vacation. No preaching this week. No Roman collar.”

A threatening confession on Saturday night targeting his friend, Father Lee, at Christ the King Church in Magnolia Bluff is not the best start to Father Frank’s vacation. Still, he uses all the resources to find the clues and thwart the culprit. The reader looks over the shoulder of Father Frank, praying he solves the mystery before someone dies. James Callan, a master of this genre, provides unexpected twists to the story and delivers a surprise ending that will have you reach for a Dr. Pepper. Well done Mr. Callan. Book 4 is a great addition to the Magnolia Bluff Crime Chronicles.

After a successful career in mathematics and computer science, receiving grants from the National Science Foundation and NASA, and being listed in Who’s Who in Computer Science and Two Thousand Notable Americans, James R. Callan turned to his first love—writing.  An award-winning author, he concentrates on his favorite genre, mystery/suspense/thriller. His seventeenth book is scheduled for release in 2024.




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    • Cindy Davis

      Your review of You Won’t Know How or When was spot-on, Rox. I was gripped by the story from the beginning. I pretty much read it in one sitting. Thanks so much for all you do for the MBCC authors.

      • jamesr r. Callan

        Thanks for your kind words, Cindy. And certainly, Rox Burkey wrote an insightful review. Thanks Ms. Burkey.

      • RoxBurkey

        Love that you stopped by Cindy. I love this series and all the authors.

    • Kristine Anne Hall

      WOW! What a stellar review! I am so looking forward to binge-reading this series during my winter break, and this book sounds fabulous. Thanks for sharing your thoughts and getting me psyched about reading it!

      • James R. Callan

        Thank you for your comment, Kristine. I hope you enjoy all of the Magnolia Bluff books.

      • RoxBurkey

        Thank you for stopping in Kristine. This series rocks. Thanks, Rox

    • Cindy Davis

      You’re right, Kristine. I’ve read all but the last two books, and though each one is an entity unto itself, each embodies the aura and mood of Magnolia Bluff.

    • Richard Schwindt

      This one of my favorite books in the Magnolia Bluff Crime Chronicles, and a perfect illustration of why the series works so well. Callan has seamlessly integrated his excellent Father Frank mysteries into this notorious town in central Texas. The way he elevates suspense and anticipation over violence allows his characters to shine, and remain true to their integrity as priests. Callan is a solid and readable stylist, and this book is highly recommended.

      • RoxBurkey

        Hey Richard, so nice to see you today. Thank you for your comments. Love this series.

      • James R. Callan

        Thank you, Richard. You are beyond kind.

    • Charles Breakfield

      This book was a great read and quite the puzzle to unravel. The story is built in such a way as to loop you into the crime right away but left me feeling helpless until the conclusion. Well done James.

      • James Callan

        Thank you, Charles. I appreciate your comment. It was, I must admit, an unusual conclusion.

    • CW Hawes

      I’m a sucker for clerical sleuth mysteries. This was a good review of a very enjoyable example of the clerical sleuth mystery sub-genre. And shows us a side of Magnolia Bluff from the eyes of an outsider.

      • James R. Callan

        Thanks, CW for the comment. One of the nice things about the Magnolia Bluff series is that the reader gets to see the town and its inhabitants from a variety of viewpoints. You really get to know them. I love it.

        • RoxBurkey

          Great to see you here, James. Love your writing.

      • RoxBurkey

        Thank you for stopping in CW. Always delighted to get your opinion.

    • Charles Breakfield

      Terrific book, excellent storytelling.

      • RoxBurkey

        Thank you for story in Mr. Breakfield. Love the story

      • James R. Callan

        Thank you, Charles, not only for your comment, but for your help on other matters. You and Rox are an incredible resoorce for the Underground Writers. We do appreciate you.

    • Joe Congel

      Super review, Rox! This was a thoroughly enjoyable mystery. And you’re right, that first line grips you and immediately draws you into the story. Love Father Frank and Father Lee. A terrific dynamic duo. Glad to see that Jim is writing another for the MBCC series 🙂

      • RoxBurkey

        Joe, this story made me a believer in mystery with class.

      • James R. Callan

        Thanks, Joe. I’m so happy you enjoyed the book. I appreciate your comments.

    • Maryann Miller

      Terrific review. I have a copy of this book waiting for me in my Kindle. Need to bump it up in my queue. 🙂 I’ve read a couple other Father Frank mysteries and it’ll be fun to go with him to Magnolia Bluff.

      • RoxBurkey

        Thanks for stopping by. Glad you are here. I love his writing.

      • James Callan

        Hi Maryann and a big thanks for your comment. This blog book tour is a great opportunity for both authors and readers. As authors, we get our books before many other readers. And for readers, they get a look at the series from many different reviewers. A great idea and I thank Lone Star Literary Life for this opportunity. And for you Maryann, I do hope you are doing well. I pray that you have a happy and healthy Christmas.

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