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Reviewed by K.C. Finn for Readers' Favorite
Secrets in The Smoke is a work of fiction in the historical and interpersonal drama sub-genres and was penned by author Linda Stefko. Written for adult audiences due to some instances of explicit language use and the occasional sexual situation, this intense drama follows the complex lives of protagonist Jack Quinn and the people whom he encounters, and who in turn shape him, throughout his life. Set in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania from 1890 through 1931, intertwining families have their dramas laid bare by this heartfelt and emotive story, whilst also handling the sociocultural and economic hardships of a very important period in American history.
One of the most effective and impressive things about this novel is the way in which author Linda Stefko weaves her plot threads, taking us between different narrative scenes with confident storytelling that tells you this is an author you can trust. In Stefko’s hands, the characters are fully developed and realized with emotive lexical choices and powerful speech and thought presentation. The sense of historical period is well researched and accurately portrayed, but more than this, it fuses with the central plot and directly affects the lives of those whom we are following. It’s this commitment to realism that grounds us powerfully in the characters’ struggles and emotional investment that is maintained from cover to cover. Overall, I would highly recommend Secrets in The Smoke to fans of recent historical fiction with intelligent cultural references, as well as fans of deeply emotive family sagas looking for their next powerful read.