My Review of You Won’t Know How . . . Or When by James R. Callan

Callan’s favorite sleuth, Father Frank, must confront the most frustrating ordeal and dilemma of his life.

On day one of Father Frank’s first vacation in four years, a man says to him, “I’m gonna kill you.”

Then suddenly, the threat of violence includes another person. Now, Father Frank knows something must be done. But since the threat came via the confessional, he can’t tell the police.

He can’t even tell the other person who is in danger. Father Frank is pretty much on his own.

And to make matters worse, all this happens in Magnolia Bluff, a beautiful Texas Hill Country town, but a place Father Frank has just come to visit.

He doesn’t know the people; he doesn’t know the town, and he certainly doesn’t have a clue who is issuing the threat.

His vacation hasn’t started well, and if he can’t stop this man from killing, it will end suddenly – and much worse.

James R. Callan, author of You Won’t Know How … Or When

Review by Caleb Pirtle III:

Author James R. Callan abruptly grabs you by the throat with the opening words of his new cozy mystery: “I’m gonna kill you.”

And he leaves Father Frank confronting the most frustrating ordeal and dilemma of his life. At long last, he’s taken a vacation from his church in East Texas.

He’s come to Magnolia Bluff to visit an old friend, Father Lee. They attended seminary together.

And, being the kind-hearted soul that he is, Father Frank agrees to hear confessions at Christ the King Church on a dark Saturday night while his colleague is out of town.

He’s seated in the confessional and hears the words he never expected to hear: “Father, I’m about to commit a sin. You won’t know how. You won’t know when.”

And Father Frank is bound by the Seal of Confession. He can’t tell anyone about the threat, not Father Lee and not the police. Fear grips him. He’s not sure what he should do next. He’s not sure what he can do next. His is a vow of silence.

Callan brilliantly brings to life Father Frank’s life or death struggle with his conscience: “The problem is, Frank thought, I know something they don’t know. What if I went to the police chief and told him Lee was in danger, but didn’t reveal how I knew? No chief worth his salt would take me at my word—he’d want proof, or at least a source for my information. And I couldn’t tell him.

“Frustration rolled over him. Some Catholics believed that would be okay, but the fundamental canon law was perfectly clear. Under no circumstances could a priest reveal what was heard in confession. Frank knew that excommunication would devastate him. And yet, if Lee were killed because Frank did nothing, that would haunt him the rest of his life.”

Father Frank has one option left. He must personally find and apprehend the man with murder on his mind.

The clues add up.

A possible hit and run.

A mysterious gas leak, explosion, and fire in the rectory.


No one has died yet, but the grim reaper is near.

Callan cleverly takes scattered pieces of the puzzle and begins to connect them with an surprise ending that is filled with the kind of heart and warmth and understanding that only Jim Callan can bring to a cozy mystery.

Please click HERE to find You Won’t Know How … Or When on Amazon.

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