De Luca offers a sprawling debut thriller about a man whose strange visions lead to murder.
Tony DeVito is an upstanding guy who works two jobs—as a machinist and a part-time constable in the Danbury, Connecticut, police department—to support the love of his life, Rita, and their two kids. One day, he starts to get distracted at work and begins losing sleep because of constant nightmares. Whenever lights start to flicker or flash, Tony is seemingly transported to another realm, tortured by frightening images and demonic voices. After a particularly bad episode, Tony wakes up to find himself trapped in an insane asylum. He doesn’t remember how he got there, but he’s told that he killed his wife and kids. The doctors keep Tony restrained and otherwise treat him poorly until the doctors discover his actions may not have been his fault. The doctors find that Tony, and other future killers, had been hypnotized on a dude ranch, lured by the promise of a free vacation. Tony tries to fight his visions, determined to convince the doctors that he’s not a deliberate killer, and find forgiveness from Rita’s family. Later, he and FBI agent Trevor Platt team up to thwart an evil plan. The premise of this thriller—multiple people turning against their loved ones, seemingly randomly—is a scary and compelling one. But the novel, as a whole, has some problems; the dialogue often seems unnatural, and a lot of superfluous description slows the story down. Whenever his characters drive anywhere, De Luca frequently provides specific directions, down to the roads that they take, instead of simply cutting to the next scene. One chapter opening describes the swampland of Terre Bonne Parish for several pages, with hardly any mention of the characters at all.
An intriguing idea for a novel hampered by unnecessary bloat.