The Illusion of Secondhand Smoke

2019 ebook cover


Independent Publisher Awards 2013
FINALIST Indie Excellence Awards 2013
FINALIST Readers’ Choice Awards 2013



A hidden past has the power to consume you slowly,

or to destroy you all at once when it catches you.

Sex, drugs, and rock and roll turn deadly in 1977 when a popular teenager, Tee DeLuca, is murdered because he’s rumored to be gay.  A varsity football player is sent to prison.

Years later, Maria DeLuca is a self-destructive motivational speaker struggling to be a better person. Her estranged husband is a dying con artist with a lifetime of carefully spun secrets. He summons her and a few high school friends to his bedside, and together they finally uncover the missing pieces of the night Tee died. Everyone is a little guilty, but only one of them is a murderer.  When the smoke settles, Maria is face to face with her hidden past.

Set in Levittown, America’s original master-planned community, The Illusion of Secondhand Smoke explores loyalty, love, and the mistakes that define us.


This was a fun book to write because Maria and her friends brought me deep into their lives. I set the story in Levittown (America’s first planned communities) because I love the juxtaposition of a master plan with the scattered fragments of their lives. I also like the contrast of a suburban nirvana with teen angst–the paradise lost, shall we say.  I was raised in Levittown and have always wanted to set a story there because of its texture. Many people don’t appreciate the texture of a suburb, especially of the original ones that represented the American Dream. They think of “little boxes,” conformity and lack of imagination. In reality, I think it’s just the opposite. A custom-built house might make you appear unique, but many of the lives between the walls are one-dimensional. When your home looks the same as the one next to it, it’s almost a guarantee that the life within is rich.  That’s where my characters come from.


“The mistakes that the novel explores are not past acts—not bullying a fellow student, not drinking too many beers—but mistakes of love. Van Dyck deftly illustrates how difficult these heartfelt errors are to avoid and how deeply they scar. . . .the tension among the characters creates a compelling and highly readable novel.”  Kirkus Reviews

“The Illusion of Secondhand Smoke” is an insightful novel with quite a story to tell, highly recommended.” -Midwest Book Review  (The Mystery/Suspense Shelf)

I love everything about this book…I love how real the characters are. I can picture them as just about anyone really living and breathing like me…Also, the setting and the events have real feel to them. All in all, I like how dark and intriguing the story is. It kept me on my toes…Even if in the end I found out how things have really turned out, I felt satisfied. Really, it is intricate and worth every moment you spend on it.  -Trisha Dawn Daffon for Readers’ Favorite


%d bloggers like this: