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Red Room Member Collin Kelley's Five Star Novel: Remain in the Light reviewed by Fran Lewis


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Remain in The Light: Collin Kelley


A letter to an ex-lover begins this heartbreaking novel. As one man recounts his feelings to another as they part. The feelings expressed and the emotions quite strong as Martin expresses his feeling in a goodbye letter to his ex-lover David. We meet Martin Paige and Irene Laureux. Martin begins by remember David and relating to the reader the story that many of us do not know. A special manuscript of poems and a box of matches as his final remembrance or token of love for David left in his apartment for him to decide its fate. David left Martin in order to hide the fact that he is gay from his parents and decided to live the life for a while that they wanted for him. In pleasing others we often harm ourselves. The year is 1968 a volatile time period in Paris. Irene Laureux’s husband was killed and his body dumped near Notre-Dame cathedral. So, why is she still after the killer and what drives her forward? Was his death a simple murder or is there something she does not know? Paris is the city brought to light in this novel and these characters will take you on a tour of many different places that most would not visit as I review Collin Kelley’s Remain in the Light.


Martin did move on but in a cavalier manner as no one could fill the void that David left in his heart and he went about enjoying different romances but not really caring about any. Living with Irene and reminding her that her marriage did not end any differently than his with David created a reminder of events that happened in the past and her need to still search for answers. Irene was married and her husband was unfaithful to her and her lover was killed under mysterious circumstances. But, that was nearly 30 years ago.



Diane Jacobs hates teaching and decided to quit only to find herself having to return. Not only that she was to return home to her parent’s house in order to resume a career she did not want and live a life she wanted to escape. Remembering how she was the reason David and Martin first met and were brought together helped her to understand Martin’s need to escape his past and the ties that sometimes bind you to others. A job in a private school but Diane did not want to live in America and with her father’s help should would return to Paris to Martin and Irene but not before something triggers her anger and fear. While shopping she has an angry encounter with David’s parents that turns ugly in public. Denying that their son is gay and blaming his behavior on Martin and Diane was their way of passing off the blame and turning a blind eye. Only wanting to find out what happened to her son and where David might be, she asks Diane to help in their search since he was missing for quite some time. The author brings to light what happens when parents only see what they want and often shut themselves off from realities when it differs with their blueprint for their child.


Irene suffers from agoraphobia, which is an irrational fear that some people have. It a feeling or dread or panic when faced with certain situations, objects or activities. Some even have panic attacks causing them to become housebound. “Agoraphobia is just one type of phobia, or irrational fear. People with phobias feel dread or panic when they face certain objects, situations, or the symptoms of the panic attacks which may accompany agoraphobia vary from person to person, and may include trembling, sweating, heart palpitations (a feeling of the heart pounding against the chest), jitters, fatigue, tingling in the hands and feet, nausea, a rapid pulse or breathing rate, and a sense of impending doom.”


As we get to know the characters better we learn more about Diane and her relationship with her parents, Martin and her feelings towards Irene. Diane is hard and seems unfeeling and her attachment to Martin although close resentful to Irene at best. At times Diane seems opinionate and anything but warm to Irene who has problems dealing with people in general. The story takes place just a Princess Diana meets an untimely death and both Irene and Martin plan to support Euan by attending her funeral. With limited options, a temporary residence and no job offerings in the horizon Diane is existing on the money her father gave her and hoping that both Martin and Irene will permanently welcome her. But, in the background there is someone lurking that is peering inside Irene’s hotel room, taking pictures of Diane without her knowledge and has no qualms about revealing himself to Irene. One detective named Sullivan seems to have more than must spooked Irene.


The author introduces a really unique fact about Irene. Irene has many backwards dreams where she envisions things in these dreams, which lead her to her husband’s killer. The first of these dreams is described on page 49. 


One theme that I see running through the plot is acceptance, as each character that we have met so far needs to feel accepted, wanted and loved for who and what they are. Diane cannot seem to find her own niche or place in the world on her own and Martin, seems to be compensating for losing David by replacing him with meaningless others shielding himself from being hurt. Irene is lost in her past and wants to resolve it for her future when she approaches one detective and reenlists her own to find clues what Diane is really up to and hopefully find answers to her husband’s murder. But, first we learn of Irene’s suspicions about Diane. Diane arrives in a cloud of thunder and a detective seems to appear out of nowhere watching Diane and Irene, then Irene’s apartment is ransacked and robbed and her real motive for coming to Paris about to be revealed. No one seems to be able to trust anyone least of all Diane. Before we can get comfortable the author moves the scene to the Anglophile where a bookstore where Martin is hosting the open mike for Euan. But as Martin reads his work aloud Euan does not see the lust in his eyes for another. As Christian reads a poem the whole room is mesmerized along with Martin. The author brilliantly moves to the next scene with Irene going through all her late husband’s effects, his journal and letters and secret compartment in his trunk. Collin Kelley takes the reader on many journeys through London, Paris and then Memphis creating a unique travel log of pictures, information and scenery that any traveler could add to a scrapbook.



Irene is quite unique in her manner, her actions and her way of expressing herself. Diane is abrasive, Martin subdued at times and not at others and Euan in a world that he has created for himself. At times he seems docile and yet at others even though gay, more aggressive, manly and strong. They seem to play off of each other but there is still much more that remains to be seen.


Introducing the two detectives in this story. One working with Diane and who has knowledge of more than just her whereabouts and seems centered on Irene. The other detective is V. Hugo who is a by the book detective hired by Irene, without success to find Frederick Dubois who seems to have disappeared. But, might have finally surfaced after his mother’s death.


As Irene relives the bomb that took her husband’s life, Diane and Martin become immersed in a new world and life in Paris as she out of her mid-life crisis and Martin out of his predictable routine. Sometimes life changes at a moment’s notice and things that appear to be important take a backseat to the new and the unknown for both Martin and Diane.


The narrator relates the next phase of the story as we learn more about Martin and Euan and their perfunctory relationship. We also learn how much Irene wants to find Frederick Dubois and the strange incident at the funeral. The author does not allow the reader to into the minds of the characters for very long. The suspense is high and the intrigue even higher as you wonder just how all of the threads will fit together. Added is one Peter Seller’s like detective who seems fixated with Diane and Irene and less with solving cases.


But, David’s disappearance will take the characters into a world filled with drugs, corruption, cover -ups, murder and identity take over and much more. Paris is usually called the City of Light to Remain in the Light these characters are going to have to find their way out of the dark.


Martin falls blindly in love with Christian as the author describes their love quite vividly and candidly for the reader. Irene learns the truth about David and what Diane knows as Sullivan reveals it all. But, lies are about to unfold and one man’s life will be turned around as the final deceits and betrayals come more than just full circle. Martin will have a startling revelation before all is said and done. When the publishing company he and Irene work for is sold and the truth behind who might have bought brought to light you won’t believe just how the past and the present collide as author Collin Kelley will keep you in suspense and guessing until turn that very last page coming to the startling and unexpected end.


Searching for answers both Martin and Irene learn starling truths as the author reveals what happened to Jean-Louis and to both David and Christian. Deals are made, truths are covered up and many lives are changed forever. Just what really happened to Jean-Louis and who reveals it all you will have to learn for yourself? Where is David and how do all the pieces fit together? Remember: nothing is by chance, divine intervention and fate brings situations and people together. Just what this means you have to find out when you read Remain in the Light. Irene, Martin and Diane learn many lessons in life but one rings true: Friendship: Keeps you together and Love makes you do powerful and extraordinary things. Let’s see what our creative and talented author has in store for them when the third book in the trilogy comes out.


Fran Lewis: Reviewer