Ill Will

Posted February 23, 2024 by Carole in Reviews / 4 Comments

I received this book for free from the publisher. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

Ill WillIll Will by Dan Chaon
Narrator: Ari Fliakos, Edoardo Ballerini, Michael Crouch, Alex McKenna, Scott Aiello
Published by Ballantine Books, Penguin Random House Audio on March 7, 2017
Genres: Fiction / Literary
Length: 14 hours 54 minutes
Pages: 496
Format: ARC, Audiobook
Source: Library, Publisher
Amazon | Audible | B&N | Kobo |

NATIONAL BESTSELLER • Two sensational unsolved crimes—one in the past, another in the present—are linked by one man’s memory and self-deception in this chilling novel of literary suspense from National Book Award finalist Dan Chaon.

Includes an exclusive conversation between Dan Chaon and Lynda Barry

The Wall Street Journal • NPR • The New York Times • Los Angeles TimesThe Washington PostKirkus ReviewsPublishers Weekly

“We are always telling a story to ourselves, about ourselves.” This is one of the little mantras Dustin Tillman likes to share with his patients, and it’s meant to be reassuring. But what if that story is a lie?

A psychologist in suburban Cleveland, Dustin is drifting through his forties when he hears the news: His adopted brother, Rusty, is being released from prison. Thirty years ago, Rusty received a life sentence for the massacre of Dustin’s parents, aunt, and uncle. The trial came to epitomize the 1980s hysteria over Satanic cults; despite the lack of physical evidence, the jury believed the outlandish accusations Dustin and his cousin made against Rusty. Now, after DNA analysis has overturned the conviction, Dustin braces for a reckoning.

Meanwhile, one of Dustin’s patients has been plying him with stories of the drowning deaths of a string of drunk college boys. At first Dustin dismisses his patient's suggestions that a serial killer is at work as paranoid thinking, but as the two embark on an amateur investigation, Dustin starts to believe that there’s more to the deaths than coincidence. Soon he becomes obsessed, crossing all professional boundaries—and putting his own family in harm’s way.

From one of today’s most renowned practitioners of literary suspense, Ill Will is an intimate thriller about the failures of memory and the perils of self-deception. In Dan Chaon’s nimble, chilling prose, the past looms over the present, turning each into a haunted place.

“In his haunting, strikingly original new novel, [Dan] Chaon takes formidable risks, dismantling his timeline like a film editor.”—The New York Times Book Review

“The scariest novel of the year . . . ingenious . . . Chaon’s novel walks along a garrote stretched taut between Edgar Allan Poe and Alfred Hitchcock.”—The Washington Post

My feelings are somewhat mixed when it comes to this book and I am still trying to figure out what I think about everything. There were things that I really liked about the story and I was very eager to find out who was really behind the murders, both in the past and the present. The story ended rather abruptly leaving me without the answers that I had been hoping to find. I did find the book to be rather entertaining and enjoyed this read overall.

The story is told through multiple points of view and at different points in time. Murders in both the past in the present are at the center of the story and I was equally interested in both mysteries. Dustin is tied to both crimes in very different ways and the people that he is close to have also felt an impact. Each perspective brings another piece of the puzzle into focus and I couldn’t wait to see exactly how things would pan out.

I listened to the audiobook and thought that the narrators did a great job with this story. I always like it when books with multiple points of view use a different narrator to voice each perspective, so the use of a larger cast was a big plus for me. I liked all of the narrators and thought that their voices worked well together. I am certain that their performance added to my enjoyment of this story.

I would suggest that some readers are going to like this one even more than I did. This would have been a 4 star read for me if I had found the closure that I was looking for. Regardless, this book was a worthwhile journey and I am glad that I decided to give it a try.

I received a review copy of this book from Ballantine Books.

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