Into That Good Night: A Novel
by Levis Keltner
Arcade Publishing

"They cried together for a long while over what they’d lost, and then, much later, they cried for what they still had."

There is a murder mystery within the pages of this novel, and much is made by its principal characters about solving it. However, the beating heart at the center of this tale is about the mystery of life itself, particularly as it is lived by a collection of teenagers who band together ostensibly to find the perpetrator. Their interactions with one another along with one individual’s soul-searching make up the bulk of this tome, undergirding a tale that is far more about the pain of growing up than the simple unmasking of a killer.

Doug is an eighth-grader who feels he doesn’t belong. John is extremely popular and a talented athlete who happens to be dying of cancer. When a female classmate is found murdered, John assembles a squad of seemingly mismatched teens to ferret out the murderer. Doug is perhaps more surprised than anyone when John asks him to be part of the team. Thus begins a search for answers that turns into a journey of revelations.

Keltner is a gifted writer, skilled in plumbing the depths of both his young protagonist’s plus his supporting players’ self-appraisals. In frequently heart-rending passages, he details the fear, confusion, and lack of self-esteem that often run rampant in the teenage years. As his young group is forced to confront questions of loyalty, courage, responsibility, and more, one sees similarities to William Golding’s classic Lord Of The Flies. Dangerous obstacles are ever-present in this novel, perhaps none more frightening than simply surviving the nightmare that adolescence can be. Keltner’s perceptive insight into young people and the emotions that drive them make this psychological study both involving and memorable.

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