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Reviewed by Ty Mall for Readers' Favorite
"The Illusion of Secondhand Smoke" by Janice M. Van Dyck is about Maria DeLuca, a successful motivational speaker, whose personal life is anything but happy. She is into drugs and is having an affair with a married man. She is not without her reasons for giving up on Mike, her abusive husband, even before he got cancer. Years before, her brother Tee was murdered by someone in town over a rumor. Everybody thinks that their reason why the murder occurred is the right one, but Mike, on his deathbed, gets his neighborhood buddies and family together. The missing pieces he fills in about Tee’s death shock everyone more than the secrets they think they have successfully hidden from everyone. And all those dark secrets tumble into the light of day.
I was surprised by how insightful the main character Maria is. A lot of writers don’t choose a character’s profession well, but this author did, and made great use of it. I really connected to these characters in their struggles, because of how well this author described events from each character’s perspective, with no explaining. I thought Jeremy would have been bitter. I enjoyed watching the pieces of the plot fall into place. And even after I started figuring things out, this book kept me guessing. The last few chapters were definitely unexpected. I was also surprised by the discussion questions and the notes at the end. This is a great book.