by Mark McNease

Book Cover: Reservation for Murder: A Kyle Callahan Mystery
Editions:Kindle: $ 4.99
Pages: 216
Paperback: $ 8.95
ISBN: 1728647185
Pages: 216

It’s been several years since Kyle Callahan sought the help of a New York City therapist to overcome the trauma of his encounter with a serial killer, and just as long since his investigation into a teenage girl’s murder brought down the Manhattan District Attorney. He and his husband Danny Durban have decided to move away, to start a new life in the idyllic river city of Lambertville, New Jersey. They have friends there. They’ll have peace and quiet. They can leave the hustle and bustle and stresses of America’s biggest metropolis behind. They open a bed and breakfast, and soon discover that murder and mayhem are waiting to check in. There’s a writers conference in town, with big names and big egos heading for a clash—and a killing—of titans. No sooner has the ink dried on the guest registry than Kyle finds himself pursuing another murderer, this one closer to home than they’ve ever come. He enlists the help of his old friend and local resident Linda Sikorsky, once a detective on the New Hope, Pennsylvania, police force. The two of them follow one lead after another in a race against time until the shocking truth is exposed.

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CHAPTER 1

Kyle Callahan stood by the apartment doorway staring at what now seemed like vast emptiness. The movers had finished ten minutes ago and were already on their way out of the city.

“We have to go,” he said to his husband Danny Durban. “We’re meeting them at Passion House and we need to be there.”

“You don’t have to state the obvious,” Danny replied.

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Kyle knew the move was even harder on Danny than it was on him. The apartment had been Danny’s long before he met Kyle thirteen years ago. Kyle and his cat, Smelly, had moved in from their home in Brooklyn. They’d been the new members of a family that had previously consisted only of Danny and his cat Leonard. It hadn’t taken long, either. The men had been dating for three months when they decided to combine households, and that household had just been sold. They were vacating because they no longer owned it and the new residents were coming the next day. All the empty space Kyle was looking at, freshly painted, scrubbed, cleansed of their presence, had held memories until this very moment. Now those memories were ghosts who had to leave with them. The furniture and belongings they’d decided to keep would still provoke the same sentiments—the coffee cups Kyle bought from every place they’d traveled, Danny’s awards for his years in the restaurant business—but they would not be housed in the same place. They, like their owners, were being uprooted by choice and planted in new ground.

“Are we doing the right thing?” asked Danny, standing next to Kyle with only the front door between them and their new life.

Danny was shorter than Kyle by six inches, and just a little over a year older. Kyle had fallen in like the first night they’d met at a dating event, and within weeks the like had turned to something close to love, or at least the anticipation of it. They were both thirteen years older now, and their added age, along with their height difference, was something Kyle never noticed except in photographs.

“There is no wrong thing, Danny. Everyone’s gone. Some of them have left the planet. Time only goes in one direction and we’re going with it. Let’s be excited.”

“I am excited. It’s just hard. All those years in one place. This isn’t just change. It’s upheaval. I’m a city boy moving to the country. Who would ever have guessed that?”

Kyle put his arm around Danny. “Lambertville is not the country. Linda and Kirsten live in the country,” he said, referring to their friends who had a small house in the woods outside Stockton, New Jersey. “We’re moving to a fabulous, artistic, vibrant town we both love. And we already live there!”

The couple had been travelling back and forth the past three months between Lambertville, where they’d already opened their bed and breakfast, and Manhattan, where leaving had not been an overnight proposition: there had been the restaurant to deal with, the building they owned, and a thousand details that had to be dealt with when settled lives moved from one place to another.

“We should go,” Kyle said gently.

He sensed Danny was crying silently. Just a tear or two.

“Joy and grief are not mutually exclusive,” Kyle said. “Remember, when one door closes …”

“Oh, for godsake, I hate that expression,” Danny said.

“I know you do. That’s why I said it.”

The mood had lifted slightly and Kyle knew it was time. He turned and opened the door, taking in yet another view he would not see again: the hallway. They’d known their neighbors, and their neighbors’ children and pets, all in this hallway, on the other floors and in the lobby. Life in a New York City apartment building was a microcosm of the city itself, teeming with personalities and lives grand and small.

A moment later they were outside the apartment. Kyle handed Danny the key.

“Here, you should be the one to do this.”

Danny nodded. He took the key and locked the door.

A short elevator ride later they were at the front desk. Danny gave their key to Freddy, the morning shift doorman.

“You’ll be back,” Freddy said, trying to put the best face on a goodbye that was hard for the staff, too. Doormen, porters, handymen, the super—some of them spend their entire working lives in one building. They see new apartment owners settle in. They see the tenants’ children grow up. They see the old ones die. And they see some of them leave.

COLLAPSE
Reviews:Carolyn on Amazon wrote:

If you like cozy mysteries that are character driven, this is the book for you. The story is set in a village located next to the Delaware River that has long attracted tourists from New York City and Philadelphia who are looking for a rural weekend getaway in an artsy and picturesque place. The characters you will meet are staying at a mansion in town that has been converted into a bed and breakfast. Although all seems to be going well, the writer lets you in on people’s thoughts and it seems many are thinking of past decisions and having regrets. Some wonder if it is a mistake to be there at all. This includes Kyle Callahan, an amateur sleuth and retired restauranteur who owns the bed and breakfast with his partner. Nevertheless, people continue with their plans until one of the guests is found dead. The police don’t seem to be coping; someone else goes missing; and Callahan decides to find out what is happening and why. The rest of the book is a fast-paced whodunit with a number of reveals that lead the sleuth to the culprit. Like all well-crafted whodunits, the culprit’s identity is a surprise at first, but should have been obvious all the time: The writer has been telling you all along that character and history really matter when it comes to why people do what they do.

Larry Boucher on Amazon wrote:

I have read all of Mark's books. In my humble opinion, this was his best. I loved the characters. Mark does such a wonderful job of building his characters. There are not so many characters that it gets confusing. This book kept me riveted the whole time.

Ed Hawkins on Amazon wrote:

This is my first Kyle & Danny’s exposure, but it won’t be my last. Mr. McNease is a great story-teller. I enjoyed his characters and truly couldn’t put this book down. I don’t usually give 5 stars for a book, but this one gave me more pleasure than most, so 5 it is. It’s unusual to find an author whose protagonists are approaching my old age. Kyle and Danny are almost up to me. Much of the fun of reading this book was enjoying Mr. McNease’s take on growing old. If you like a good cozy, and you’ve read all of Agatha Christie, then Kyle and Danny are for you.


Reservation for Murder is the sixth book in the Kyle Callahan Mysteries.

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Other Books By Mark McNease