In Millamena’s debut thriller, a young college student tormented by a serial killer must find a way to stop him—even though the killer’s already dead.
Ted, an Olympic taekwondo gold medalist, is an athletic 20-something living a carefree New York life as an undergraduate. That is, until Ted’s uneventful bike ride turns into his witnessing a murder in progress. He speeds away in fear, and his haphazard retreat causes a truck to swerve and collide with a car, killing the woman being attacked; on the plus side, the wreck also eradicates a serial killer who’s left four previous victims in his wake. But it’s only just begun for Ted: He dreams that the killer murders Barbara, an elderly lady in the neighborhood, and the next day, she dies in a purported accident that strangely resembles her dreamed death. When Ted’s dreams continue to be plagued by the killer offing people he knows, Ted realizes that he has to fight back, regardless of the fact that the murderer exists only in his nightmares. The author’s short novel boasts a laudable protagonist who puts his kickboxing and martial arts skills to good use when facing off against the killer later in the story. Millamena excels in detailing seemingly routine actions—biking through Brooklyn or a chemistry exam—before they turn into nightmarish events. There’s even an amusing reference to the obvious source of inspiration when Ted’s pal Glen wryly asks if Ted is afraid of “Freddie (sic) Krueger,” the dream-invading horror icon. Despite the strong presence of the dream world, the story is often stabilized by logic: A cop follows up with Ted after he informs the police that he fled a collision resulting in two deaths. But the novel’s short length doesn’t leave much room to expand on the smaller plot points; nerdy but markedly attractive Jessica has a clear affinity for Ted, yet the potential for juicy melodrama (especially since Ted already has a girlfriend, Cindy) is unfortunately nothing more than a tease. Millamena does, however, delve a little into the killer’s psychosis (he’s a crazed Vietnam vet) and caps off the story with a stellar and wholly satisfying ending.
Lighthearted and emphatically entertaining, even with a serial killer in the mix.