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.
“We are always telling a story to ourselves, about ourselves,” Dustin Tillman likes to say. It’s one of the little mantras he shares 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 symbolize 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
Meanwhile, one of Dustin’s patients gets him deeply engaged in a string of drowning deaths involving drunk college boys. At first Dustin dismisses talk of a serial killer as paranoid thinking, but as he gets wrapped up in their 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 DAN CHAON
Among the Missing
“Unforgettable . . . hums with life and wry humor . . . The stories sneak resolutely up on you, like new weather that hits before you know it.”—The New York Times Book Review
“One of those writers who possess an uncanny and seemingly otherwordly understanding of the human condition . . . Chaon [is] a remarkable chronicler of a very American kind of sadness, much in the tradition of Richard Yates, Raymond Carver, and Denis Johnson.”—San Francisco Chronicle
You Remind Me of Me
“Remarkable . . . weaves the threads into a whole that is not only satisfying but devastating.”—Entertainment Weekly (Editor’s Choice)
“Extraordinary . . . renews my faith in the unique capacity of literature to help us understand and ultimately respect ourselves and the strange, baffling, complex figures we all can be.”—Houston Chronicle
Await Your Reply
“Stunning . . . Like the finest of his storytelling heroes, Mr. Chaon manages to bridge the gap between literary and pulp fiction with a clever, insinuating book equally satisfying to fans of either genre.”—The New York Times
“A riveting thriller, chock-full of plot twists . . . There’s a bristling momentum that develops, as in any great tale of suspense. . . . [Chaon] writes with an eloquence rarely seen in the world of page-turners.”—Los Angeles Times Book ReviewStay Awake
“Eerily beautiful . . . [Chaon] is the modern day John Cheever.”—Boston Sunday Globe
“There are not many fiction writers who can do what Dan Chaon can do. . . . [He is] a literary force.”—The Philadelphia Inquirer
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From the Hardcover edition.