The Unwilling by John Hart, Kevin Stillwell (Narrator)
Expected publication: February 2nd 2021 by Macmillan Audio,
About the Book: “We the unwilling, led by the unqualified to kill the unfortunate, die for the ungrateful.” (Unknown Soldier)
Set in the South at the height of the Vietnam War, ‘THE UNWILLING’ combines crime, suspense and searing glimpses into the human mind and soul in ‘New York Times’ bestselling author John Hart’s singular style.
Gibby’s older brothers have already been to war. One died there. The other came back misunderstood and hard, a decorated killer now freshly released from a three-year stint in prison.
Jason won’t speak of the war or of his time behind bars, but he wants a relationship with the younger brother he hasn’t known for years. Determined to make that connection, he coaxes Gibby into a day at the lake: long hours of sunshine and whisky and older women. But the day turns ugly when the four encounter a prison transfer bus on a stretch of empty road. Beautiful but drunk, one of the women taunts the prisoners, leading to a riot on the bus. The woman finds it funny in the moment, but is savagely murdered soon after.
Given his violent history, suspicion turns first to Jason; but when the second woman is kidnapped, the police suspect Gibby, too. Determined to prove Jason innocent, Gibby must avoid the cops and dive deep into his brother’s hidden life, a dark world of heroin, guns and outlaw motorcycle gangs. What he discovers there is a truth more bleak than he could have imagined: not just the identity of the killer and the reasons for Tyra’s murder, but the forces that shaped his brother in Vietnam, the reason he was framed, and why the most dangerous man alive wants him back in prison.
This is crime fiction at its most raw, an exploration of family and the past, of prison and war and the indelible marks they leave.
Let me start my review with this quote from the blurb about this book. “This is crime fiction at its most raw, an exploration of family and the past, of prison and war and the indelible marks they leave.”
This was a dark and unsettling story of a family dealing with PTSD, loss of a child in a war, addiction, secrets and pain. It is also a story about a man with money, lots of money, that enables him to hire people to do whatever he wants them to do, even if it is against the law. The one thing he wanted most of all, he was unable to get, but he would die trying. The French family has suffered. Gibby’s parents will do whatever they can to keep him away from his convict brother, also a war criminal, Jason. When Gibby and Jason get together for an afternoon of partying, one action starts an avalanche of events that result in bloodshed, torture, arrests, kidnapping and more.
This is my first John Hart book, but will probably be my last. Not that it was not a well-written story, but it was much too violent for my taste. The story is told from Gibby’s point of view. Gibby wants to prove his brother’s innocence in a murder and begins his own investigation with his friend, Chance, and the girl he is getting involved with, Becky. His investigation takes him to some dangerous places, meeting drug dealers, motorcycle gangs and others who will do anything to keep Gibby from discovering a lot of secrets. He is in danger, but won’t back down. I liked both Gibby’s and Jason’s characters. They were relatable characters who would do whatever they could to help their siblings. Chance was Gibby’s friend and was one that went above and beyond friendship as you will see when you read this one. I felt for the family and their friends and my heart broke many times. The part that has the reader suspending belief is the serial killer “X” who rules the prison from death row. He has everyone in his pocket and his hired killers on the outside are also a bit over the top. So, I am not sure how to rate this one, because parts are heartbreaking, others just gory and bloodthirsty and some unbelievable.
I listened to the audiobook narrated by Kevin Stillwell. His voice and expression definitely added even more atmosphere to this story. I think that was the reason I was able to finish this one, as his voice mesmerized me as I listened. I would recommend this to anyone who likes a well plotted, intense mystery. Remembering that there is a lot of violence and lots of triggers as well. I listened to the audiobook narrated by Kevin Stillwell. His voice and expression definitely added even more atmosphere to this story.