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Review of Ill Will & 99c Promo

Blurb: “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 overturned the conviction, Dustin braces for a reckoning.

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.

Review: Dustin Tillman's parents, aunt, and uncle are killed when he's a young teen. He and his cousins found the bodies. He was sure who the killer was, even testified, but were his memories correct? Dustin grows up to be a therapist and has two sons of his own. As his wife is dying of cancer, he gets word that his adopted brother Rusty who he thought killed his parents is released from prison based on new DNA evidence. Now Dustin is paranoid Rusty is coming for him, and to top it off, he becomes tangled in one of his patients' investigation into new deaths which may have been done by a cult. Everything and everyone he cares for is put on the line, but sometimes he can't remember for what.

This is a hard to read mystery suspense. Hard to read in so many ways. First, the narration is strange, and it can be frustrating. We're dealing with memory loss, false memories, and imagined events. The reader can never be sure which is which. The style of how it is written can be tough to navigate as well. There are unfinished thoughts/sentences, lack of punctuation, huge spaces, and sometimes scenes and memories are put into a table format. I don't know whether to say it's a jumbled mess or to say it's brilliant in this is how a schizophrenic must think. This form of narration is done for both Dustin and his youngest son Aaron. Other characters has some missing spaces, but not as extreme as Dustin and Aaron.

Another way it is hard to read is the subject matter. There is abuse of children on all levels, so please be forewarned of it if you're interested in this book. The author doesn't slide anything under the carpet. You see it all.

I did find the peek into the 1980s hysteria over Satanic cults interesting, and the case Dustin was working on with Aqil about a possible serial killer or cult was thrilling. I'm a fan of crime documentaries, and I like to pretend I'm an amateur sleuth. This is what Dustin and Aqil were doing, even though they had connections to help them with it. I did guess right away who was responsible for the modern day murders, but it didn't matter that I knew. The journey was a crazy one!

Another warning for potential readers is that there is no closure at the end, but it ends at the right spot. If that makes sense!

As I've been reading award-winning mystery books this summer, I've found that the big ones break writing rules. If you're a writer, and you sometimes feel constrained by the "writing rules" like me, just look at the best sellers. They aren't following the rules, and you don't have to either.

You can find Dan Chaon on his site and buy the book here.

Summer is coming to a close, but the romance books are still HOT! Check out the Summer Loving 99c Book Fair. For this week only, you can fill your ereader with a ton of wonderful reads. My paranormal romance, Curse of the Hunted is included, as well as my pen name's fantasy romance, Harnessing the Winds.

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