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Ill Will
by Dan Chaon


Overview - 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.

NAMED ONE OF THE 10 BEST BOOKS OF THE YEAR BY PUBLISHERS WEEKLY AND KIRKUS REVIEWS - A WASHINGTON POST NOTABLE BOOK

"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.  Read more...


 
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More About Ill Will by Dan Chaon
 
 
 
Overview
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.

NAMED ONE OF THE 10 BEST BOOKS OF THE YEAR BY PUBLISHERS WEEKLY AND KIRKUS REVIEWS - A WASHINGTON POST NOTABLE BOOK

"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.

Praise for Ill Will

"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

 
Details
  • ISBN-13: 9780345476043
  • ISBN-10: 0345476042
  • Publisher: Ballantine Books
  • Publish Date: March 2017
  • Page Count: 496
  • Dimensions: 9.3 x 6.3 x 1.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.5 pounds


Related Categories

Books > Fiction > Literary
Books > Fiction > Psychological
Books > Fiction > Crime

 
BookPage Reviews

Dark undercurrents

No one who has read Dan Chaon’s fiction will be surprised to learn that Ill Will, his new novel, is relentlessly bleak. It’s a murder mystery and a literary thriller, a multilayered nonlinear narrative and a psychological portrait of the dark side of human nature. You’ll lose track of the number of deaths, but you’ll remember the daring storytelling and the skillful treatment of characters who live with repressed memories.

If you’re Dustin Tillman, a 41-year-old Cleveland psychologist, widower and father of two teenage sons, then you’ve got horrific memories to repress. When Dustin was 13, his parents and an aunt and uncle were murdered on the eve of a camping trip. A Pulitzer-nominated photograph of Dustin running from the scene with his twin cousins, Kate and Wave, became famous.

The murder was blamed on Dustin’s adopted older brother, Rusty, in part because of Dustin’s testimony; he claimed that Rusty had engaged in satanic rituals involving baby rabbits, a doll and a candlelit pentagram. Now, 27 years after the murder, DNA evidence exonerates Rusty, who has always proclaimed his innocence and contended that Dustin’s testimony was based on faulty recollection.

Rusty’s re-emergence is only one of the factors that complicate Dustin’s life. In addition to his wife’s death and his younger son’s growing heroin addiction, Dustin has a patient, a Cleveland police officer put on leave for a “psychological difficulty,” who recruits Dustin to help solve a series of murders of college-age men who have drowned on dates that follow a pattern. And the next date to fit the pattern is coming up.

Throughout Ill Will, Chaon plays with the novel form: second-person narration, emails, shifting perspectives, emojis and, most radically, parallel columns of prose that show concurrent thoughts and episodes in characters’ lives. The result could have been style for style’s sake, but, in Chaon’s capable hands, the novel is a brilliant depiction of mental illness. Not a pretty picture, but masterfully painted.

 

This article was originally published in the March 2017 issue of BookPage. Download the entire issue for the Kindle or Nook.

 
BAM Customer Reviews