In Costly Habits, Peter Makuck skillfully portrays characters who have experienced various kinds of loss: loss of work, innocence, and self-respect; loss as a result of death, separation, or divorce. The relationships of siblings, husbands and wives, parents and children, friends and lovers, provide framework for these narratives. In the title story, an unemployed systems analyst, embittered by the loss of his job and resentful of a seemingly carefree neighbor whom his estranged wife admires, becomes obsessed with catching squirrels in a box trap until he is badly bitten by one. ""Bereavement Flight"" portrays the experiences of a middle-aged married man who answers a phone call at a drunken party to learn his college roommate has died. While trying to make airline reservations to attend the funeral, the protagonist has a conversation with an agent that provokes an ugly memory and deepens both his grief and shame. ""The Price of Dining Out"" reveals the festering sense of anger that a Spanish professor feels after being humiliated publicly by a restaurant owner upon whom she plots revenge. ""Animal Planet"" is the story of a retired easterner with a drinking problem who visits his brother in Arizona and by the end of the story isn't sure whether he has deliberately allowed a coyote to kill the family dog. ""Under the Azure Dee"" evokes images of coastal Carolina with eelgrass islands, jade waters, and sandy channels, a setting it shares with several other stories. The main character is a recent widower with difficult teenage children who is able to regain his courage and move into the future with the help of a female friend. Peter Makuck's stories, often humorous, deal with the costly habits of being materialistic, envious, narcissistic, fearful, judgmental, vengeful, obsessive - and altogether human. His depth and vivid detail make this a compelling collection of short fiction.