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Halloween night 1963, De Pere, Wisconsin. Children dressed as ghosts, vampires, and hoboes chase one another on and off porches and through the streets, hunting for Dum Dums, Slo Pokes, and thrills. Meanwhile their parents fill the local bars, joking and fighting, bobbing for apples, dancing to the jukebox.

But all is not well. Evelyn Schmidt's life is almost at an end; she's been diagnosed with cancer and given only days to live. She'll be damned if she'll go quietly, though, in the hospital or at home. She's heading for the Idle Hour to drink up a storm, whether her fellow drinkers want her there or not. Steve Omsted is only sixteen, but it seems to him his life might as well be over. He's on academic probation, he's been kicked off the football team, and now his girlfriend has dropped him. He's looking for an easy target for his rage and has set up a nighttime ambush for his intended victim. Chuck Williams feels like his life hasn't even started yet, but he can't wait any longer. He'll go trick-or-treating, but he doesn't want to end up waxing windows with the other fifth-graders; he's aiming to hang out with the older kids and cause some real trouble.

As the evening unfolds, the paths of these and other characters converge in a series of shocking events that will change the lives of all involved. In stark language and with bold, cinematic vision, John Dixon delivers a stunning portrait of a small town at war with itself.


"Recall[s] the work of fellow Midwesterner Sinclair Lewis in its stark portrayal of social hierarchies and the lengths to which people will go in order to fit in . . . In this debut novel, adults are mean, but little boys are meaner." Kirkus Reviews

"Dixon's story churns with action." Publishers Weekly