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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 st 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.


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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 st 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.

30 review for The Unwilling

  1. 4 out of 5

    Dorie - Cats&Books :)

    This is my first book by John Hart and it is a winner!! What I loved about this book was that it was a combination of so many things. It was a thriller, a family drama and a coming of age novel. The story was about the horrors of war and what it can do to a young man. It was also a story of a family fractured by the loss of one son to the war and another who came back from Vietnam psychologically damaged and drug addicted. Their youngest son, Gibby is all they feel they have left and they will d This is my first book by John Hart and it is a winner!! What I loved about this book was that it was a combination of so many things. It was a thriller, a family drama and a coming of age novel. The story was about the horrors of war and what it can do to a young man. It was also a story of a family fractured by the loss of one son to the war and another who came back from Vietnam psychologically damaged and drug addicted. Their youngest son, Gibby is all they feel they have left and they will do anything to protect him. The novel is set during the time of the Vietnam war, when young men were being drafted into the Army unless they had a deferment. The family of Detective French has been through a lot. Their oldest son, Robert, was killed in the war previously. The second son, Jason served three years in the war and then a prison sentence. He has been released and their youngest son, Gibby spots him at the local quarry where many high school seniors are enjoying a “senior skip day”, swimming, drinking and socializing. Jason wants to connect with his younger brother and offers a day of adventure and getting to know each other. When Gibby decides to go along with his brother the plot begins it’s twist into some very dark secrets and will include kidnapping, torture and murder. A young woman is found dead, having been tortured first by someone who must be a very twisted psychopath. With no real leads to the killer the police turn to Jason, who is known to have had a violent history. Gibby will continue to try to prove Jason’s innocence but that path will lead to incredible danger for himself and his best friend Chance. The story is told from Gibby’s point of view. While all of the drama is playing out with his brother he is discovering his first love, Becky. When they meet there is an immediate chemistry and Becky is there for Gibby when they begin to try to find Jason when he disappears. Their investigation will lead to meeting some very dangerous people, drug dealers, motorcycle gangs and others who will do anything to keep Gibby from discovering some incredible secrets. I will not describe any more of the plot but will leave you to discover the story for yourself. This book had me from the first page to the last with an incredibly intense ending. The characters are well defined and I could visualize them and the bonds between the brothers and friends. I would recommend this to anyone who likes a well plotted, intense mystery/drama. I received an ARC of this novel from the publisher through NetGalley. The Unwilling is set to publish on June 23, 2020

  2. 4 out of 5

    MarilynW

    The Unwilling by John Hart My feelings about the book are all over the place. There is the heartbreak of the French family, the father, a murder cop, the oldest (good) twin dead after being shot in Vietnam, the other twin (bad) still alive after surviving Vietnam and prison, and the eighteen year old son, Gibby, fighting the bubble wrapped life that his mother insists for him, after his brother's death. But we find that nothing is so black and white and that the living twin, Jason, is so much mor The Unwilling by John Hart My feelings about the book are all over the place. There is the heartbreak of the French family, the father, a murder cop, the oldest (good) twin dead after being shot in Vietnam, the other twin (bad) still alive after surviving Vietnam and prison, and the eighteen year old son, Gibby, fighting the bubble wrapped life that his mother insists for him, after his brother's death. But we find that nothing is so black and white and that the living twin, Jason, is so much more than his bad reputation...he's been done wrong in so many ways and if only his family knew more, his mother might have not demand he was no longer alive to her.  Jason wants to spend one more day with Gibby before his little brother graduates and Jason moves on with his life full of bad things. But something very bad happens and it's blamed on Jason, dragging Gibby into the horrific mess. Jacob and Gibby's father is caught in all of it, being a murder cop, but also having to make decisions that mean choosing between the good son and the bad son. The thing is, Gibby's parents had always thought he was like Richard, the good twin, but now Gibby's father can see just how much he's resembling, Jason, the bad twin. Gibby is growing up and becoming his own man, choosing his own way of dealing with the impossible choices of life.  All the family things pulled at my heart. There is Gibby's poor best friend, Chance, a favorite character of mine and Gibby's new girlfriend, a classmate he's always had a crush on. There are good cops and bad cops (who are willing to destroy the lives of their co-workers in their effort to move up). There are women who make very bad choices but still don't deserve to die and gangs that will probably be killing each other and those that cross them, from here to eternity.  This book also has at least two serial killers. It is the character of X, living in a suite of cells below death row, running the world with his connections and billions of dollars, that is so over the top and so overpowered that it throws parts of the story into comic book super supervillain territory. So this story left the realm of real life for me and became something else. I cared so much for the characters of the family and their friends but not so much at all for the ugly underworld that had taken over Jason's life.  Trigger warnings galore for almost everything! Publication: February 2th 2021 Thank you to St. Martin's Press and NetGalley for this ARC.

  3. 4 out of 5

    Debra

    Oh, war, I despise 'Cause it means destruction of innocent lives War means tears to thousands of mothers eyes When their sons go to fight And lose their lives I said, war, huh good god, why'all What is it good for Absolutely nothing say it again - Song lyrics from War by Edwin Starr The French family has been torn apart by War. One son (Robert) went to Vietnam and lost his life. Another son (Jason) enlisted and had his life destroyed. He came home a decorated killer, an addict and at odds with his famil Oh, war, I despise 'Cause it means destruction of innocent lives War means tears to thousands of mothers eyes When their sons go to fight And lose their lives I said, war, huh good god, why'all What is it good for Absolutely nothing say it again - Song lyrics from War by Edwin Starr The French family has been torn apart by War. One son (Robert) went to Vietnam and lost his life. Another son (Jason) enlisted and had his life destroyed. He came home a decorated killer, an addict and at odds with his family. Gibby is the youngest son, dubbed the good one, the one his Mother wants to protect. But all Gibby wants is to get to know the only brother he has left. Together Jason and Gibby make plans but we all know that best-laid plans can go awry. When a young woman is murdered, Jason is arrested and Gibby is one of the few who believe in his brother's innocence. Determined to conduct his own investigation and clear his brother, Gibby soon learns that he is in over his head and danger is out there watching, lurking, planning.... Family, love, loss, grief, anger, anguish, pain, violence, addiction, friendship. loyalty - you name it, it's all here written in John Hart's beautiful writing. He proves time and time again that he is a master storyteller. The book started a little slow but once all the characters were introduced, I was hooked and unwilling to stop reading. Hart has woven a tale with many layers that focuses on the elements that I named above. This is crime fiction, which is also part coming of age, part family drama, part tale of redemption, part murder mystery, and part romance. This book was thought-provoking, emotionally stirring and riveting. This book had tension, suspense, and raw emotion. This book is gritty and raw with heartbreakingly tender scenes as well. There is a depth of emotion lying within the family and the individual members. He lays bare their pain and heartache. He also knows how to create characters readers want to root for, even if they have done bad things. He creates multidimensional characters and realistically describes their conflicted feelings, their thoughts and their love for each other. I highly recommend this book (and his other books as well). I received a copy of this book from St. Martin's Press and Edelweiss in exchange for an honest review. All the thoughts and opinions are my own. **Traveling Sister Group Read

  4. 4 out of 5

    MarilynW

    The Unwilling by John Hart (Author), Kevin Stillwell (Narrator) For me, listening to a book is always a different experience than reading the same book. In the case of The Unwilling, the narrator, Kevin Stillwell, did an excellent job of giving the various characters distinct voices. Without a doubt, I plan to listen to more audio books narrated by this narrator.  My feelings about the book are all over the place. There is the heartbreak of the French family, the father, a murder cop, the oldest ( The Unwilling by John Hart (Author), Kevin Stillwell (Narrator) For me, listening to a book is always a different experience than reading the same book. In the case of The Unwilling, the narrator, Kevin Stillwell, did an excellent job of giving the various characters distinct voices. Without a doubt, I plan to listen to more audio books narrated by this narrator.  My feelings about the book are all over the place. There is the heartbreak of the French family, the father, a murder cop, the oldest (good) twin dead after being shot in Vietnam, the other twin (bad) still alive after surviving Vietnam and prison, and the eighteen year old son, Gibby, fighting the bubble wrapped life that his mother insists for him, after his brother's death. But we find that nothing is so black and white and that the living twin, Jason, is so much more than his bad reputation...he's been done wrong in so many ways and if only his family knew more, his mother might have not demand he was no longer alive to her.  Jason wants to spend one more day with Gibby before his little brother graduates and Jason moves on with his life full of bad things. But something very bad happens and it's blamed on Jason, dragging Gibby into the horrific mess. Jacob and Gibby's father is caught in all of it, being a murder cop, but also having to make decisions that mean choosing between the good son and the bad son. The thing is, Gibby's parents had always thought he was like Richard, the good twin, but now Gibby's father can see just how much he's resembling, Jason, the bad twin. Gibby is growing up and becoming his own man, choosing his own way of dealing with the impossible choices of life.  All the family things pulled at my heart. There is Gibby's poor best friend, Chance, a favorite character of mine and Gibby's new girlfriend, a classmate he's always had a crush on. There are good cops and bad cops (who are willing to destroy the lives of their co-workers in their effort to move up). There are women who make very bad choices but still don't deserve to die and gangs that will probably be killing each other and those that cross them, from here to eternity.  This book also has at least two serial killers. It is the character of X, living in a suite of cells below death row, running the world with his connections and billions of dollars, that is so over the top and so overpowered that it throws parts of the story into comic book super supervillain territory. So this story left the realm of real life for me and became something else. I cared so much for the characters of the family and their friends but not so much at all for the ugly underworld that had taken over Jason's life.  Trigger warnings galore for almost everything! Publication: February 2nd 2021 Thank you to Macmillan Audio and NetGalley for this ARC.

  5. 4 out of 5

    Brenda ~Traveling Sisters Book Reviews

    He'd fought the war as few men could. THE REAL TERROR WAITED AT HOME. Piping Hot Diggity Dang with a side of flaming hot peppers right off the fire!! John Hart is my hero for taking this stressed out with life reader and drawing me right into this story, allowing me to forget everything around me but these characters. I became utterly lost in this story. Sometimes that's all you need! The Unwilling is a raw yet exciting heart-pounding, emotionally deep and entertaining crime story that explores t He'd fought the war as few men could. THE REAL TERROR WAITED AT HOME. Piping Hot Diggity Dang with a side of flaming hot peppers right off the fire!! John Hart is my hero for taking this stressed out with life reader and drawing me right into this story, allowing me to forget everything around me but these characters. I became utterly lost in this story. Sometimes that's all you need! The Unwilling is a raw yet exciting heart-pounding, emotionally deep and entertaining crime story that explores the dynamics between a family shattered by the past, war, prison, loss and the scars left behind. Now the story itself wasn't perfect for me, but this is what made it so exciting for me. So here is the deal with this one for me. I am not such a big fan of the broken, young hero-type character here with Jason and his violent past, dark risk-taking world and his hard look at life. I loved it all!!! I am a hard sell on that but it all pulled at my momma heartstrings, and I just wanted to save Jason and keep him safe. It was John Hart's master story writing here that had me turning the pages as fast as I could. He uses vivid writing yet not using unneeded words but by creating suspense, tension to drive the story forward. He creates conflicts here with the dynamics between the characters that draw us into the depth of the souls and minds of his characters. The conflicts add tension to the story and I was silently yelling at the characters. If you haven't read a book by John Hart, I highly recommend giving one a try. If you have, you know what I am talking about. Don't miss out on the experience of reading his books. I received a copy from the publisher

  6. 5 out of 5

    Liz

    4.5 stars, rounded up You don’t go into a John Hart novel expecting an easy read. His books are not for the squeamish. And this one is no exception. But, boy is it good! Hart takes you right to the time and place. In this case, outside Charlotte, NC during the height of the Vietnam War. One French twin went to war and didn’t come home. The second came back, got involved in criminal enterprises and went to prison. The third, youngest brother is seeking to re-establish a relationship with his brothe 4.5 stars, rounded up You don’t go into a John Hart novel expecting an easy read. His books are not for the squeamish. And this one is no exception. But, boy is it good! Hart takes you right to the time and place. In this case, outside Charlotte, NC during the height of the Vietnam War. One French twin went to war and didn’t come home. The second came back, got involved in criminal enterprises and went to prison. The third, youngest brother is seeking to re-establish a relationship with his brother. During an afternoon outing, one of the women they’re with taunts a bus of prisoners. It leads to a riot on the bus and bad things follow from there. The woman ends up dead. It doesn’t help that the father is a police murder detective. Each character is so complete, you feel like you know them. In a stream of consciousness, we know everyone’s thoughts. Gibby is right at the edge of adulthood, trying to peel away from his parents, especially his mother, and find his own way. Jason is definitely involved in a life of crime, but yet was a hero once upon a time and still worries about his younger brother. The father struggles with the mistakes he’s made concerning the elder brother and how to best protect his youngest. Even the secondary characters, Chance and Becky, are fleshed out. The plot at times goes overboard and is unbelievable, especially when it deals with X, a billionaire prisoner out to get Jason. But I was so engrossed in this story, I could not put it down. It’s multi-layered with various themes, including war and its after effects, dysfunctional families, growing up and becoming your own person, of what it means to be courageous. I did wish that Hart had explained the mother more. We know Robert was her favorite, but she was like a thread left hanging. I was lucky enough to get both the ebook and audiobook. Both were wonderful experiences and I loved being able to flip between the two. Kevin Stilwell did a fabulous job as the narrator. He captured the emotions and the tension of this story. My thanks to netgalley, St. Martin’s Press and Macmillan Audio for advance copies of this book.

  7. 5 out of 5

    Lisa

    My thanks to St. Martin Press, John Hart and Netgalley. I'm really at a loss of words. "Joke, follows here!" I have nothing... You want to talk about a family lost! A cry from a desperate voice that wished for one son over another to die? A family. One who raised the goods. A heartbeat who sold weapons for a home. A man. A father. A cop. Mercy. Is it too late? My thanks to St. Martin Press, John Hart and Netgalley. I'm really at a loss of words. "Joke, follows here!" I have nothing... You want to talk about a family lost! A cry from a desperate voice that wished for one son over another to die? A family. One who raised the goods. A heartbeat who sold weapons for a home. A man. A father. A cop. Mercy. Is it too late?

  8. 5 out of 5

    Carolyn Walsh

    I wish to thank NetGalley and Saint Martin’s Press for this raw, powerful, and exquisitely written thriller. This is my 7th book by award-winning novelist John Hart who has been one of my favourite authors. I have listened to the audio version but prefer reading on my Kindle. He creates multi-dimensional, often flawed characters, and places them in dire circumstances. He portrays his characters in a manner that gives penetrating glimpses into their minds, hearts, and souls. The reader is kept in I wish to thank NetGalley and Saint Martin’s Press for this raw, powerful, and exquisitely written thriller. This is my 7th book by award-winning novelist John Hart who has been one of my favourite authors. I have listened to the audio version but prefer reading on my Kindle. He creates multi-dimensional, often flawed characters, and places them in dire circumstances. He portrays his characters in a manner that gives penetrating glimpses into their minds, hearts, and souls. The reader is kept in suspense and thoroughly engaged in watching them grow in character and hoping they show some heroism and finally redemption. The villains are brutal, deranged, but fascinating. Warning! This leads to some graphic scenes of murder and mayhem. I was on the edge of my seat awaiting their fate. This is certain to be at the top of my favourite books for 2020. "We the unwilling, led by the unqualified to kill the unfortunate, die for the ungrateful." -unknown soldier The multi-layered story takes place in the South during the turmoil of the Viet Nam War. It is a mystery, an intense thriller, a study of fractured family dynamics, a coming of age story, the horrors of war and its aftermath, and a disturbing look at prison life. John Hart is a masterful storyteller. Detective French and his wife had three sons. The twins, Robert and Jason, were the oldest and Gibby was younger. Robert died in Viet Nam. He had been his mother's favourite, and Jason overheard his shattered mother saying she wished it had been Jason who was killed instead of Robert. Jason immediately enlisted and spent three years on active duty in Viet Nam where he was honoured for heroism and was a decorated soldier- until he wasn't. He was sent home with a dishonourable discharge. Hardened and bitter, he became involved with heroin and gun-running bikers. He was incarcerated for almost three years in the notorious Lanseworth Prison for hardened criminals. Gibby has finished High School and will soon be attending University. After Robert's death, he was overprotected by his mother and missed some life experiences. He was not permitted to date girls or participate in sports. His policeman father became distant and morose. Jason, newly released from prison and living with criminals wants a connection with his younger brother, Gibby. Jason coaxes his young brother to spend a day with him unknown to his parents. It will be a day at the lake with whiskey and a pleasant sunny drive. Jason picks up two older women he knows and brings them along. Tyra becomes very drunk, wild and provocative. They encounter a prison transfer bus. Tyra becomes loud and sexually taunts the prisoners. Her actions cause a riot on the bus. Sara, her roommate is quieter and a follower and more subdued. Gibby takes a liking to Sara. Not long afterwards, Tyra is savagely murdered and mutilated. Jason is suspected of the murder and sent back to prison. His mother is certain her son is guilty, and the father has only a few doubts. Gibby is determined to prove Jason's innocence, helped by his best friend Chance and his new sweetheart from High School. Their actions are unknown to Gibby's family and to the police force. This leads them into the dangerous world of biker gangs, drug dealers, and gun runners. There is even a greater menace from murderous psychopaths with connections inside the prison. They are under the control and payment of a diabolical, crafty billionaire who is in prison awaiting execution. This man has power over other prisoners and staff and has deadly connections on the outside. Now Sara has gone missing, and Gibby is suspected of abducting and killing her. He and Chance must avoid not only the criminals but also the police. The action and dread escalate to a pulse-pounding conclusion. Detective French and also Gibby discover what happened to Jason in Viet Nam. What they learn is highly disturbing and based on a real-life, historic military coverup. We learn what happened to Tyra and Sara and why, and the fate of Jason in prison. A closing scene takes place outside the prison where a crowd has gathered to cheer or protest the execution of the evil billionaire inmate on the day he is to die in the gas chamber. There is much excitement and twists in store for the readers. Highly recommended to anyone who enjoys a grim, dark story with well-developed, flawed characters. Contains violence.

  9. 5 out of 5

    JanB

    DNF at 58% This is a much-loved author so I'll just say it is me, not the book. The story line didn't interest me and there were unbelievable elements that I couldn't ignore. DNF at 58% This is a much-loved author so I'll just say it is me, not the book. The story line didn't interest me and there were unbelievable elements that I couldn't ignore.

  10. 5 out of 5

    Tammy

    A family suffering from the loss of a son during the Vietnam war confronts the drastic changes the war had on another son who returns hardened, drug addicted and recently released from prison. The youngest son is on the brink of manhood and refuses to abandon his veteran brother regardless of what he may have done. A thoughtless act on the part of a drunken young women involving a prison transport bus sets into motion murder and more. Conspiracy, loyalty, and suspense drive another of Hart’s nov A family suffering from the loss of a son during the Vietnam war confronts the drastic changes the war had on another son who returns hardened, drug addicted and recently released from prison. The youngest son is on the brink of manhood and refuses to abandon his veteran brother regardless of what he may have done. A thoughtless act on the part of a drunken young women involving a prison transport bus sets into motion murder and more. Conspiracy, loyalty, and suspense drive another of Hart’s novel to its gratifying ending. I did notice some slang that was not true to the seventies. Do you feel me?

  11. 5 out of 5

    Marialyce (absltmom, yaya)

    This is the third book I have read by this author and I have to think, he just keeps on getting better and better. This is another one of those stories that when I completed the last page, I thought I am ever so happy I had the opportunity to read this tale. The winds of war blew heavily through this family, taking away harshly much of what they held dear, and left them swept with anguish, loss and the desire to return to normalcy knowing that they never could. It's always hard to read about war This is the third book I have read by this author and I have to think, he just keeps on getting better and better. This is another one of those stories that when I completed the last page, I thought I am ever so happy I had the opportunity to read this tale. The winds of war blew heavily through this family, taking away harshly much of what they held dear, and left them swept with anguish, loss and the desire to return to normalcy knowing that they never could. It's always hard to read about war, but sometimes reading about its aftermath is even harder. The people left behind, the families devastated, and the lives that have been damaged and changed can never be forgotten or even understood by those not touched by the conflict. War's aftermath produces hardship, loss, and pain in all touched by its malevolent hand. It's a walk through hell for many and in this new book of John Hart's, The Unwilling, we learn of the tragedy experienced by the French family. A son, Robert, has been killed in Vietnam. Another son, Jason, a three time tour of duty soldier, has been ravaged by the war. He returns a drug addict, a man haunted by many ghosts, a son given up on by his mother, a brother who is beloved by his young brother Gibby. There is a father, devastated by the loss of his eldest son, compelled to alienate his next son because of his job in law enforcement, and endeavoring to keep his youngest son away from his brother. Then there is Gibby, the youngest son, so desirous of a connection to his brother, willing to do whatever to establish a link, to find a brother that he doesn't want to be lost to him. Then one stupid event changes everything and starts in motion a dangerous and deadly journey that will end tragically for some, reveal secrets from others, and take the reader on a exploration of family, of ties that bind, of courage and the will to survive. This gritty pragmatic book will sink its tentacles into you as you descend deeper into the harsh reality that faced this family and so many others who returned from war, broken, in need, and facing a world that seemed to banish them. Mr Hart has probed deeply into family, its role, its place in the life of children who are left unknowing and bereft in the face of loss. Perhaps this book is a difficult one to read, to assimilate in times such as this, but it is a testament to the ties that bind, the roles we play and the relationships we build with parents and our siblings. Truly this is a book worth reading. Thank you to John Hart for such a powerful message, St Martin's Press, and Edelweiss for an advanced copy of this book due out June 23, 2020.

  12. 4 out of 5

    Karen

    This is an action packed story, right from the start. 1972, North Carolina.. Jason French returns home after a dishonorable discharge from the Marines after three tours in Vietnam. He tries to reconnect with his younger brother Gibby (18) the only brother he has left because their older brother Robert was killed in the war. The parents....Dad (a cop) and mom ..don’t want Gibby to associate with Jason as he has a history of violence and drug addiction. They hang out anyway and when a murder happens This is an action packed story, right from the start. 1972, North Carolina.. Jason French returns home after a dishonorable discharge from the Marines after three tours in Vietnam. He tries to reconnect with his younger brother Gibby (18) the only brother he has left because their older brother Robert was killed in the war. The parents....Dad (a cop) and mom ..don’t want Gibby to associate with Jason as he has a history of violence and drug addiction. They hang out anyway and when a murder happens to one of Jason’s ex girlfriends, he is falsely accused and thrown in jail. Gibby knows Jason is innocent and is working to find the evidence to prove it.. all while facing much danger himself. There are many other well developed characters and a lot more to this story but you need to read it for yourself. 😊 John Hart is a great author! Four of his other books were 5 star reads for me. Thank you to Netgalley and St. Martin’s Press for this ARC!

  13. 4 out of 5

    ScrappyMags

    When a book is so much more than what you thought... Shortest Summary Ever: There were 3 brothers. The eldest died in Vietnam. The 2nd - Jason, fought, came home, and wound up in jail. The 3rd - Gibby, has just turned 18 and been sheltered from most of this. Jason returns from prison and reconnects with his brother. Their parents have written Jason off, mostly, as a lost cause, but Gibby wants to understand him. Family drama. Then... a murder and everyone is looking at Jason. Where will his loyal When a book is so much more than what you thought... Shortest Summary Ever: There were 3 brothers. The eldest died in Vietnam. The 2nd - Jason, fought, came home, and wound up in jail. The 3rd - Gibby, has just turned 18 and been sheltered from most of this. Jason returns from prison and reconnects with his brother. Their parents have written Jason off, mostly, as a lost cause, but Gibby wants to understand him. Family drama. Then... a murder and everyone is looking at Jason. Where will his loyalties lie? What is it we just don’t know about Jason? Thoughts: I’ve read almost every Hart book and I’ll say this - he is versatile and unpredictable. His writing is like a sewing needle that weaves a perfect tale though it zigs and zags. You don’t realize it at the tone but he’s sewing a masterpiece. Solid. Captivating. The family dynamic of this story is timeless and universal even though Vietnam plays a specific role. It’s about the black sheep. It’s about brothers. It’s about parents. It’s about how those roles can be one of the biggest assets, yet the largest curses at the same time. Hart has a way of making the real SO real, it hits close to home no matter your background. The star here for me is Jason. As his story unfolds, peeling back the layers of his life, I started to see so much more to his character and good or bad an understanding grew in my mind. One I never saw coming. All my reviews available at scrappymags.com around time of publication. Genre: Mystery/Historical Fiction Recommend to: This one is a home run for all. I can’t think of a single reason why you shouldn’t read this. Perfect for the book clubs! Lots to discuss. Not recommended to: Eh... maybe if you hate mysteries, but then I can’t be your friend.. lol. Thank you to the author, NetGalley and St. Martin’s Press for my advanced copy in exchange for my always-honest review and for making my winter break this year!

  14. 4 out of 5

    Bridgett

    I liked this novel...to a point. But here's the deal, by the halfway mark, The Unwilling became, shall we say, a little silly and a lot implausible. I was willing to (mostly) overlook this, as the writing was skilled, and the plot kept my attention. Just be aware, the book does take a major left turn - it may not bother you as much as it bothered me, but it is something to consider. I also wish Gabrielle's character had been more developed. Instead, Hart made the mother of the three French b I liked this novel...to a point. But here's the deal, by the halfway mark, The Unwilling became, shall we say, a little silly and a lot implausible. I was willing to (mostly) overlook this, as the writing was skilled, and the plot kept my attention. Just be aware, the book does take a major left turn - it may not bother you as much as it bothered me, but it is something to consider. I also wish Gabrielle's character had been more developed. Instead, Hart made the mother of the three French boys a nutty caricature. In fact, now that I'm thinking about it...all the females in this story were ridiculously portrayed. I think this would have been a better story had it focused solely on Gibby's coming-of-age. Instead, we get horror movie villains like X and Reece, which dominate the second half of the book. Now, you know me...I write horror. I obviously love the genre. But it didn't work here. At least not for me. I would definitely be willing to read more from this author, but this particular story had a few issues - though obviously not to most readers, as I'm seeing many five-star reviews. So definitely take that all viewpoints into account when deciding if this is the novel for you. 3.5 stars Available February 2, 2021 Many thanks to NetGalley and St. Martin's Press for my review copy.

  15. 5 out of 5

    Linda

    "Because brothers don't let each other wander in the dark alone." (Jolene Perry) The Unwilling steps out with a deep disconnect. It did that back then. War under those circumstances leaned in hard with profound and immeasurable loss. Families gazed with emptiness into each other's eyes searching for answers that would never come. And the wounded stepped back onto shifting shores concealing the tragic death knoll of their soul that few seemed to hear. Jason French felt the draw of his small hometo "Because brothers don't let each other wander in the dark alone." (Jolene Perry) The Unwilling steps out with a deep disconnect. It did that back then. War under those circumstances leaned in hard with profound and immeasurable loss. Families gazed with emptiness into each other's eyes searching for answers that would never come. And the wounded stepped back onto shifting shores concealing the tragic death knoll of their soul that few seemed to hear. Jason French felt the draw of his small hometown in North Carolina. He longed for the familiar after three tours in Vietnam and then twenty-seven months in a hardcore prison for dastardly deeds and heroin. He'd burned his bridges long ago. But he could never cut ties with his younger brother, Gibby. Eighteen year old Gibby stood for the only goodness left in the family. Robert, the oldest son, signed up for Vietnam after high school and lost his life not soon after. Jason followed in his footsteps. But those footsteps took Jason in a very different direction. The Unwilling is a darkly traveled road into the changing family dynamics during the Vietnam War. We visit the rock hard unwillingness to forgive by parents shattered by the death of their eldest son. We experience their overreactions and their overprotectiveness in regard to the youngest with zero left for the soul who stands alone in the middle. And we see a government unwilling to pull back when winning is no longer the end game. John Hart presents us with characters so tarnished and so broken by the actions of a life that rejects them. Characters sent adrift by their own deeds and by the deeds and faulty decisions of others. There is something about a Hart novel that allows you to sink deeply below the surface. Hart guarantees that the storyline is not a simple one or that the individuals here are swirled in storms that seem relentless. It's what he does best and it's what he does here in The Unwilling......raw, dark, aching people who only wish for validation. I received a copy of this book through the publisher St. Martin's Press. My sincere appreciation to them and to the talented John Hart for the opportunity.

  16. 4 out of 5

    DeAnn

    4.5 family story/crime thriller stars This is my second John Hart novel and this one broke my heart! He is an amazing writer and storyteller, and my heart was torn apart for this family. Set in North Carolina during the middle of the Vietnam War, this book focuses on the French family. The father is a cop and there are 3 sons, the oldest two are twins. One brother heads off to war and is unfortunately killed. Then the other brother Jason enlists, he returns as a decorated soldier and drug addict, 4.5 family story/crime thriller stars This is my second John Hart novel and this one broke my heart! He is an amazing writer and storyteller, and my heart was torn apart for this family. Set in North Carolina during the middle of the Vietnam War, this book focuses on the French family. The father is a cop and there are 3 sons, the oldest two are twins. One brother heads off to war and is unfortunately killed. Then the other brother Jason enlists, he returns as a decorated soldier and drug addict, and he is not the same person. I had to remind myself that these soldiers were typically not greeted as heroes when they returned, and many didn’t share their war experiences. The focus of the story is on the youngest son, Gibson, or Gibby. When his older brother Jason returns to his hometown after a stint in jail, Gibby would like to spend time with him and get to know him again. Jason is eager for a relationship too. Their parents, especially the mother, want Gibby to stay far away from Jason’s bad influence. A pivotal situation happens when Gibby and Jason spend a day together at a lake with two young women. This sets off events for the rest of the book. Chillingly, we learn about Jason’s time in prison and one dangerous and evil prisoner there, in particular. There are some gritty and disturbing scenes in this book. I read this one with such anxiety about how much more this family could take. Gibby has a great friend in Chance and a budding romance with Becky. Things turn against Jason and soon it’s a race to see if evil will triumph. This one had a power-packed ending. This one totally sucked me in and I know there are some older titles of John Hart’s that I should read. Thank you to St. Martin's Press and NetGalley for the early copy of this one to read.

  17. 5 out of 5

    Paula

    John Hart has become a favorite author of mine over the past few years. I have read 6 books of his and this is the only one that disappointed me. Crime and violence - yes it is expected, but done in his wonderful style. Serial killing, however, is not what I anticipated from Hart. Extremely gruesome and not a storyline that kept my interest. Too graphic. If you haven’t had the opportunity to read John Hart, do try one of these outstanding novels of his: Redemption Road Down River The Last Child 3 out John Hart has become a favorite author of mine over the past few years. I have read 6 books of his and this is the only one that disappointed me. Crime and violence - yes it is expected, but done in his wonderful style. Serial killing, however, is not what I anticipated from Hart. Extremely gruesome and not a storyline that kept my interest. Too graphic. If you haven’t had the opportunity to read John Hart, do try one of these outstanding novels of his: Redemption Road Down River The Last Child 3 out of 5 stars Publication Date - February 2, 2021 Review Posted to Goodreads 12/30/20 Many thanks to NetGalley for a digital copy of the ARC in exchange for an honest review.

  18. 4 out of 5

    Tina

    This is a suspense historical fiction mystery thriller. I did not get a lot of the historical fiction part of this book. I have to say I really enjoyed the first 50% of the book. but the last 50% I found it went to far and I just did not like it. I really wish the ending was different in this book. The characters in this book was not likable, but that is what they where written to be like. This was a dark mystery with a lot of questionable things in it. This book is not for the light hearted, an This is a suspense historical fiction mystery thriller. I did not get a lot of the historical fiction part of this book. I have to say I really enjoyed the first 50% of the book. but the last 50% I found it went to far and I just did not like it. I really wish the ending was different in this book. The characters in this book was not likable, but that is what they where written to be like. This was a dark mystery with a lot of questionable things in it. This book is not for the light hearted, and you should check the triggers for this book if you get upset while reading books. I was kindly provided an e-copy of this book by the publisher (St. Martin's Press) or author (John Hart) via NetGalley, so I can give honest review about how I feel about this book. I want to send a big Thank you to them for that. (*)

  19. 4 out of 5

    Dorie - Cats&Books :)

    ADDENDUM: I thoroughly enjoyed listening to this novel. I have previously read the book but wanted to hear what the narration was like. I think they did a great job with this book. I was able to feel the emotions, the fear and the danger in this novel. The characters voices sounded relatable to what I had envisioned and were a good fit. For how I felt about the complete novel please see my review of the hard copy book below. This was an audiobook I received from the publisher through NetGalley. Th ADDENDUM: I thoroughly enjoyed listening to this novel. I have previously read the book but wanted to hear what the narration was like. I think they did a great job with this book. I was able to feel the emotions, the fear and the danger in this novel. The characters voices sounded relatable to what I had envisioned and were a good fit. For how I felt about the complete novel please see my review of the hard copy book below. This was an audiobook I received from the publisher through NetGalley. This is my first book by John Hart and it is a winner!! What I loved about this book was that it was a combination of so many things. It was a thriller, a family drama and a coming of age novel. The story was about the horrors of war and what it can do to a young man. It was also a story of a family fractured by the loss of one son to the war and another who came back from Vietnam psychologically damaged and drug addicted. Their youngest son, Gibby is all they feel they have left and they will do anything to protect him. The novel is set during the time of the Vietnam war, when young men were being drafted into the Army unless they had a deferment. The family of Detective French has been through a lot. Their oldest son, Robert, was killed in the war previously. The second son, Jason served three years in the war and then a prison sentence. He has been released and their youngest son, Gibby spots him at the local quarry where many high school seniors are enjoying a “senior skip day”, swimming, drinking and socializing. Jason wants to connect with his younger brother and offers a day of adventure and getting to know each other. When Gibby decides to go along with his brother the plot begins it’s twist into some very dark secrets and will include kidnapping, torture and murder. A young woman is found dead, having been tortured first by someone who must be a very twisted psychopath. With no real leads to the killer the police turn to Jason, who is known to have had a violent history. Gibby will continue to try to prove Jason’s innocence but that path will lead to incredible danger for himself and his best friend Chance. The story is told from Gibby’s point of view. While all of the drama is playing out with his brother he is discovering his first love, Becky. When they meet there is an immediate chemistry and Becky is there for Gibby when they begin to try to find Jason when he disappears. Their investigation will lead to meeting some very dangerous people, drug dealers, motorcycle gangs and others who will do anything to keep Gibby from discovering some incredible secrets. I will not describe any more of the plot but will leave you to discover the story for yourself. This book had me from the first page to the last with an incredibly intense ending. The characters are well defined and I could visualize them and the bonds between the brothers and friends. I would recommend this to anyone who likes a well plotted, intense mystery/drama.

  20. 4 out of 5

    Cheri

    Jason French returns to Charleston after being dishonorably discharged from the Marines, followed by a stint in prison. His family is still grieving the loss of his brother, Robert - Jason's twin, killed in Vietnam. Back home, his younger brother Gibby is in his senior year of high school. Gibby is at an impressionable age, and looks up to his older brother - much to his mother’s displeasure. Their father, William, is a police officer, and the mother, Gabrielle, seems to lack much in the way of Jason French returns to Charleston after being dishonorably discharged from the Marines, followed by a stint in prison. His family is still grieving the loss of his brother, Robert - Jason's twin, killed in Vietnam. Back home, his younger brother Gibby is in his senior year of high school. Gibby is at an impressionable age, and looks up to his older brother - much to his mother’s displeasure. Their father, William, is a police officer, and the mother, Gabrielle, seems to lack much in the way of definition. She seems almost constantly overwhelmed by life, and even more so upon the return of Jason. Her lack of desire to have anything to do with her son, Jason, creates a rift between Gibby and his mom, since he is sure that Jason is innocent of what he was charged with, which also creates a small rift between him and his father. In part, this is Gibby’s coming-of-age story, a story of brotherly love, as well as a bit of a love story with some disturbing twists and turns that end in a conflagration of violence, while in between there’s the story of life in prison, a prisoner awaiting his execution and a chilling story of how far his reach extends both inside and outside the prison walls. This is not my usual genre, although it is the second book by John Hart that I’ve read. For me it fell a little short of five stars, I think I would have enjoyed it more had the family story been explored more thoroughly. The mother seemed devoid of a personality, more like a prop than a person, she was ‘in’ the story rather than truly being a part of the story. This wasn’t as predictable as his Redemption Road was for me, what I enjoyed most was Gibby’s story, and his devotion to his brother. Fans of this genre and this author will likely enjoy this more than I did. For those who enjoy listening to books, the audio version was very well done, and the narration by Kevin Stillwell was excellent! Published: 02 Feb 2021 Many thanks for the ARC provided by Macmillan Audio / St. Martin’s Press

  21. 5 out of 5

    Sandra Hoover

    A family shredded by the Vietnam war. A father and mother left grieving the loss of their eldest son, unable to forgive their second son, and vowing to protect their youngest son. Three brothers - the good one, the bad one, and the dead one. Robert, whose brothers idolized him, died serving in Vietnam, Jason, following in the steps of his brother, served three tours and returned home a broken, angry, drug addicted shell of a man, and Gibby, a high school senior on the cusp of manhood, struggling A family shredded by the Vietnam war. A father and mother left grieving the loss of their eldest son, unable to forgive their second son, and vowing to protect their youngest son. Three brothers - the good one, the bad one, and the dead one. Robert, whose brothers idolized him, died serving in Vietnam, Jason, following in the steps of his brother, served three tours and returned home a broken, angry, drug addicted shell of a man, and Gibby, a high school senior on the cusp of manhood, struggling to live up to his parents high expectations while stretching his boundaries and discovering first love. Jason has served his time - both in the war and prison - and now wants to recover the bond with his younger brother Gibby against the wishes of his parents who fear Jason will lead Gibby down the wrong road. The French family is irrevocably broken - split apart by an unpopular war, devastating loss, and paralyzing fear and guilt. And when Gibby goes against their wishes and sneaks away for a day with Jason and two women, events are put into play that will raze their lives once again. Murder, accusations, a day of reckoning. But who will pay? This is my first book by John Hart. It will not be the last. What I discovered is a clean, sharp, precise author who doesn't waste words and yet delivers emotionally charged characters and vivid scenes that stimulate all five senses while fully engaging mind, heart, and soul. Plot lines are intricately woven and challenging, unfolding at a brisk pace and ominous tone. I was quickly drawn into this dark tale of love and hate and anguish and hopelessness. The Unwilling is a raw, gritty crime thriller - a story of a family ravaged by war, reckless words, blame, guilt, and fear. It's a story of redemption, proving oneself, and coming of age. It's about hearts forever scarred. The Unwilling is a taut, tense masterpiece - one I won't soon forget. I highly recommend it to everyone. *Many thanks to St. Martins Press for an arc of this book. It is outstanding! **Review posted at: Cross My Heart Reviews

  22. 5 out of 5

    Marilyn

    A Sensational Novel Centered Around Family, Love, Friends, Crime and the Effects of War The Unwilling was the first book that I have read by author, John Hart. It certainly will not be my last. I really enjoyed how John Hart pulled me right into this story. Being at the end of high school and at the beginning of my college experience when the Vietnam War took place, I found that I was easily able to relate to some of the traumas that occurred because of the war. All the boys that I grew up with A Sensational Novel Centered Around Family, Love, Friends, Crime and the Effects of War The Unwilling was the first book that I have read by author, John Hart. It certainly will not be my last. I really enjoyed how John Hart pulled me right into this story. Being at the end of high school and at the beginning of my college experience when the Vietnam War took place, I found that I was easily able to relate to some of the traumas that occurred because of the war. All the boys that I grew up with, including my own brother, were fearful of drawing a low number for the draft. Perhaps the most distinguishing aspect of the Vietnam war was how haunted these boys were who served in this war when they came back home. So many boys had such a hard time fitting into society again when they returned home. It was not unusual to hear how nightmares invaded their sleep and made everyday life almost unbearable. I was not very familiar with the My Lai Massacre but I did do a little research and was amazed about the bravery but also the cover-up. John Hart did an amazing job weaving the effects of the Vietnam War into the lives of family and friends and how it influenced the use of drugs and spurred crime. The French family lived in a town in the South during the 1970's. Detective William French and Gabrielle French had three boys. The oldest two, Robert and Jason, were twins and Gibby was the youngest. Robert had been selected in the draft and was killed in the Vietnam War. He was Gabrielle's favorite son. The night she found out that Robert had died she said something that no parent should ever utter out loud nor think. Loud enough to be heard by others she said, "It should have been Jason! It should have been him!" Jason heard his mother's words and enlisted a day or two later. Robert and Jason's personalities were polar opposite of one another but it was hard for me to wrap my head around the fact that a mother could ever wish that one child died instead of another. As a result of Robert's death, Gibby became the target of his mother's demands to keep him safe. He was over protected and forbidden to do sports or involve himself with girls. Gibby went along with his mother's demands because he did not want to hurt her. When Jason French returned home from the Vietnam War, his family learned that he had received a dishonorable discharge and came back home not only disgraced but addicted to drugs. Jason was picked up by the police and charged with the possession and use of heroin. He returned home a different person, shameful, unyielding and tougher. Jason's defense trial for his heroin possession was over before it began. He was charged and served twenty seven months in Lanesworth State Prison Farm, one of the state's most feared prisons. The first thing Jason wanted to do when he was released from prison was reconnect with his brother, Gibby. It had been five years since Gibby had seen Jason. Gibby and his best friend Chance were at the Quarry for senior cut day when Jason found him. Jason promised to spend a meaningful day with Gibby so the two could get to know one another again. Jason promised to show Gibby a day he would not soon forget. The next day, Gibby arrived at the address Jason had provided. Jason and Gibby shared a good meal at a diner owned by one his buddy's parents from the war. Then they took off to pick up a pair of ladies, Tyra and Sara. Jason was determined to show Gibby a good time and reconnect with the only family he had left. After a really good day, Jason decided to drive them home in Gibby's car. Tyra sat up front with Jason and Gibby was in the back with Sara. Tyra was taunting Jason to go faster. Suddenly, there was a bus ahead of them. Jason's whole being changed when he discovered that it was a Lanesworth prison transfer bus. His facial expression changed drastically and Gibby saw the fear in him. Tyra decided to have some fun. She taunted the inmates with sexual gestures. The more Jason told her to stop the more she revealed of herself. A few days later Tyra was discovered dead and mutilated in a most gruesome way. All proof pointed to Jason for committing this horrific crime. Jason was charged and sent back to Lanesworth. The big question was why was he sent back to Lanesworth before his trial. Gibby was determined to prove that Jason did not kill Tyra. Since no one else was doing anything to prove that Jason did not do it, Gibby took matters into his own hands and became involved with very questionable people to try and find answers. While Gibby was doing this, Sara was abducted. This placed suspicion on Gibby. Gibby had to avoid the police but continue to learn about his brother so he could prove his innocence. The Unwilling was a very well written book and the characters were very believable. I was at the edge of my seat for parts and if I could have closed for my eyes for other parts I would have. It was also endearing at parts especially Gibby's and Becky's relationship and Gibby's and Chance's friendship. It was hard to believe that a mother's words could have been the catalyst for changing a child's life so much. That part really bothered me. I can't ever imagine loving one child more that another and to wish one child died instead of another. Some of the descriptions of some of the scenes were graphic but they fit with the story. I highly recommend The Unwilling by John Hart. I received a complimentary copy of The Unwilling from Bookish First, St. Martin's Press, and John Hart. All opinions expressed in this review are completely my own.

  23. 5 out of 5

    Denise

    The Unwilling was my first introduction to John Hart, and it blew me away! He is a masterful storyteller, and this book grabs you from the first page, doesn't let go, and stays with you long after you finish it. I finished it last evening and woke up this morning still thinking about it - that, to me, is the mark of a truly great read! The book is set in the Vietnam War era and is told mainly from the POV of high school senior, Gibby French. Gibby's older twin brothers have already been to war, a The Unwilling was my first introduction to John Hart, and it blew me away! He is a masterful storyteller, and this book grabs you from the first page, doesn't let go, and stays with you long after you finish it. I finished it last evening and woke up this morning still thinking about it - that, to me, is the mark of a truly great read! The book is set in the Vietnam War era and is told mainly from the POV of high school senior, Gibby French. Gibby's older twin brothers have already been to war, and one of them died there. The other brother, Jason, came back a changed man, and has been recently released from prison. Gibby's father is a police officer and his mother is a "hover mother," and they forbid Gibby to have anything to do with Jason. Gibby, however, craves a relationship with his big brother, even though Jason is aloof and will not speak of the war or of his time behind bars. The brothers secretly plan a day at the lake, which is intended to simply be a day full of sunshine, alcohol, and women, but suddenly takes a dark turn that includes murder and abduction. Given his violent history, Jason French is suspect numero uno - and even his father believes he may be guilty. Gibby, though, fully believes in his brother and is determined to prove Jason innocent. When another girl goes missing, Gibby finds himself in the middle of another investigation - and this time he is a suspect. He must then dodge the law (including his father), and dive deep into his brother's hidden life - a dark world of guns, drugs, and outlaw biker gangs. What he discovers is more disturbing than he ever could have imagined and leads the entire family down a dangerous path. The plot is a complex tapestry of finely woven threads that includes a fractured family, a brother's love, horrific murders (Note: if you are not a fan of gruesome descriptions, parts of this book may be quite disturbing), enduring friendships, and bonds of love that cannot be broken. The characters are so well-defined and unforgettable. Many times I read a book and when I go to review it, I don't even remember some of the character's names - not so with this book. I remember every single character vividly - even the minor characters, as they are that meaningful to the storyline. This book is truly a dark and gutsy page-turner that is a roller coaster ride of emotions up until the final page - and what a great ending! Crime fiction at its best - this book tugged at every one of my heartstrings and there's no way I could give it any less than all of the stars.

  24. 4 out of 5

    Judy D Collins

    THE UNWILLING is masterful! New York Times bestselling author John Hart is one of the finest Southern storytellers out today. Once you read one of his books with richly drawn characters, you become a fan for life. He keeps getting better and better (if this is even possible)! A fantastic in-depth Elevator Ride Interview with John —"the story behind the story," and behind this (FUN) talented author with exclusives, you do not want to miss! In this stellar, intricate, and complex tale of fami THE UNWILLING is masterful! New York Times bestselling author John Hart is one of the finest Southern storytellers out today. Once you read one of his books with richly drawn characters, you become a fan for life. He keeps getting better and better (if this is even possible)! A fantastic in-depth Elevator Ride Interview with John —"the story behind the story," and behind this (FUN) talented author with exclusives, you do not want to miss! In this stellar, intricate, and complex tale of family, war, prison, murder, courage, sacrifice, love, and fear, Hart showcases his keen ability to explore the depths of the human capacity for resilience and trust in the face of heartbreaking betrayal and injustice. Some heroes are behind the scenes, living through horrors, where nothing is as it appears. Who would guess after war and prison, that coming home would be one of the worst traumas? THE UNWILLING, set in 1972 in Charlotte, NC, during significant times of change—a divided country much like today. The tensions and fear are high from desegregation, civil rights, communism, corruption, crooked leaders, gas prices, and let us not forget Watergate, and the Vietnam War, among other events. However, there were simple fun times, pre-cell phones, computers, and adventures at the quarry with their friends. While inspired by the Mỹ Lai massacre and the Vietnam War, the powerful, explosive, and compelling story focuses on the family war back home in the South in North Carolina. The Vietnam war had not been kind to the French family. They had buried their oldest son Robert, then watched his twin brother Jason return from the war to spiral out of control with violence, drugs, and prison. The younger son, Gibson (Gibby), was almost in his own prison, due to his overprotective obsessive mom trying to guard him against the world’s darkness. And the detective dad, Bill, always trying to smooth things over, among other things.  However, everything is not as it appears. When Jason (misunderstood) returns to get to know his younger brother, things do not go as planned.  What occurs on the home front can often be as dangerous as the war.  Jason returns after a dishonorable discharge from the Marines. There was drug use, prison, and violence, and his family does not want him around his younger brother Gibby. They see Trouble with a capital "T." He is not the favorite son. Gibby, the younger brother, a high school senior, wants to get to know his brother, and Jason wants the same. However, the mother is dead set against it and turns her back on Jason as well as others in the town. She thinks she can guard Gibby against the world. Not a nice person with her own problems. Jason's twin brother, Robert, was the family hero. The one they all looked up to. (however, who is the real hero)? There are good times at the local quarry for Gibby and his friends as they decide their future paths. Many beautiful metaphors parallel with the storyline in many ways. Some great supporting characters and friends of Gibby - Becky and Chase which offer support. When Giby and Jason are having a fun day (letting loose) with some wild fun accompanied by two of Jason's women friends, they find themselves at the wrong place at the wrong time. They run into a busload of convicts from the state prison. Someone is calling the shots, and soon, Jason finds himself accused of murder. A setup. However, Jason is quiet, but you know something more sinister is going on behind the scenes. He wants to guard his younger brother. Gibby believes in his brother's innocence. He is determined to prove it. He puts himself in harm's way, trying to help his brother. He discovers some astonishing information about his brother Jason that changes his views, and is even more determined to help his brother during his sleuthing. One evil man is controlling the shots —a wealthy, dangerous man in prison. Prisoner X. Gibby has no clue about Prisoner X and what this powerful man wants with Jason? Will the truth come out? Raw and emotional, THE UNWILLING, without a doubt, is John's BEST yet! This well-crafted novel (with plenty of heart-pounding action) is a blend of crime fiction, psychological thriller, domestic, suspense, cop procedural, mystery, coming of age, Southern, historical, legal, literary fiction. It has its all. "We the unwilling, led by the unqualified to kill the unfortunate, die for the ungrateful." —Unknown Soldier From a master storyteller, the writing is lyrical with vivid descriptions of the time and place, drawing you in. Hart has his own unique winning signature style with strong characterization and twisty plots. Deftly blending tension with darkness and light, good vs. evil the author makes his characters think and feel. He dives deep into their souls while experiencing conflicts (both inner and outward), and somehow there is always a lesson to be learned from the hardship and journey. If you enjoy a mix of authors: John Grisham, Harlan Coben, Greg Hurwitz, William Kent Krueger, David Baldacci, and C.J. Box, you must read John Hart's books. I cannot wait for a follow up to REDEMPTION ROAD (another favorite) and hope we see some of the characters again in the future from THE UNWILLING. A movie or T.V. series, please. 🎬 I have read all his books and one of my favorite authors. Top Books of 2021 Highly recommend! "Hart delivers every time." If you haven't read his books, you better get started. Thank me later. Read More on my Blog at #JDCMustReadBooks

  25. 5 out of 5

    Cherie

    Hart can write, no doubt about that. This one contains some dark elements though that I was not expecting. It contains sadistic and graphic mutilation and torture, with atleast 2 serial killers. Other than that, it became unrealistic towards the end. I still love Hart though.

  26. 4 out of 5

    Angela Staudt

    I received and ARC from BookishFirst in exchange for an honest review. What an extraordinary book about family, war, tragic loss, crime, and drug addiction. Honestly, didn’t realize when I started this how I would be sucked right into this book. This is the first book I have read by John Hart and I was blown away. I loved all the different perspectives, and from the beginning to the end I was so nervous about what would happen. This follows Jason French who has served in the war, and since being h I received and ARC from BookishFirst in exchange for an honest review. What an extraordinary book about family, war, tragic loss, crime, and drug addiction. Honestly, didn’t realize when I started this how I would be sucked right into this book. This is the first book I have read by John Hart and I was blown away. I loved all the different perspectives, and from the beginning to the end I was so nervous about what would happen. This follows Jason French who has served in the war, and since being home has gotten into drugs and been in jail. His younger brother Gibby lost his older brother Robert in war and doesn’t want to lose Jason either. When Jason is put in jail for suspected murder, Gibby knows he has to help solve this case because he knows his brother wouldn’t do that. This was such a riveting crime story that had so much more than just crime. We see what happened to Jason in war and how even though their family is a wreck, they still have each other’s back. I can’t begin to explain how much I really enjoyed this story; it was fast paced and while there were many perspectives, the plot flowed very easily and you could keep up with the story. The characters themselves were very developed and I felt as though I connected to them all. This book was raw and at moments I had to put the book down just to catch my breath. I can’t wait to read more of the author’s books.

  27. 5 out of 5

    Lori

    Honestly, I’m not even sure where to start with this review. I can not figure out all the 5 star reviews of this. Did I get the wrong copy? Maybe a first/rough draft? If it had been longer it would’ve ended up in the DNF pile. The entire story felt amateurish... I actually found myself laughing at the absurdity of some of the dialogue and unbelievable scenes. I was going to include examples, but that would’ve been 3/4 of the book. The violence was another huge issue... can I say overkill? Maybe Honestly, I’m not even sure where to start with this review. I can not figure out all the 5 star reviews of this. Did I get the wrong copy? Maybe a first/rough draft? If it had been longer it would’ve ended up in the DNF pile. The entire story felt amateurish... I actually found myself laughing at the absurdity of some of the dialogue and unbelievable scenes. I was going to include examples, but that would’ve been 3/4 of the book. The violence was another huge issue... can I say overkill? Maybe this level of descriptive violence works for people, but I find it disturbing and utterly distracting. Not surprisingly I felt the same about his novel Redemption Road. I know I’m in the big minority in my review... unfortunately, think this is the last Hart novel that I will force myself through. 2 stars.

  28. 4 out of 5

    Esil

    3.25 stars I think it’s time for me to give up on John Hart. It’s not him; it’s me. Others love his books. I keep trying and they don’t quite work for me. I know why I keep trying. The settings and atmosphere are alluring. But the stories always end up feeling overwrought. I liked Unwilling more than The Hush, but I still found the emotions and story to be a bit much. The story is set in 1972, and focuses on two brothers, Jason and Gibby. A third brother, Robert, was killed in the Vietnam war. Ja 3.25 stars I think it’s time for me to give up on John Hart. It’s not him; it’s me. Others love his books. I keep trying and they don’t quite work for me. I know why I keep trying. The settings and atmosphere are alluring. But the stories always end up feeling overwrought. I liked Unwilling more than The Hush, but I still found the emotions and story to be a bit much. The story is set in 1972, and focuses on two brothers, Jason and Gibby. A third brother, Robert, was killed in the Vietnam war. Jason is a Vietnam vet and just out of jail for drug offences. He has lots of dark secrets. And Gibby is 18, just graduating from high school, and trying to decide which of his older brothers to model himself off. Great set up, right? But it’s all shot to pieces by some crazy storyline involving over the top psychopaths lurking in the background. Enough said. I didn’t hate it, but I wish Hart toned it down. Thanks to Netgalley and Edelweiss and the publisher for giving me access to an advance copy.

  29. 4 out of 5

    Jane

    4 stars You can read all of my reviews at Nerd Girl Loves Books. This is another great mystery/thriller by John Hart. I always look forward to his books because they are so well written, and the stories are so original, that it's an immense pleasure to read them. This book is set in the South during the Vietnam War and follows one family as they struggle with the invisible wounds of PTSD and the growing pains of coming of age. Gibby has twin older brothers. Both went to war. One died in combat and 4 stars You can read all of my reviews at Nerd Girl Loves Books. This is another great mystery/thriller by John Hart. I always look forward to his books because they are so well written, and the stories are so original, that it's an immense pleasure to read them. This book is set in the South during the Vietnam War and follows one family as they struggle with the invisible wounds of PTSD and the growing pains of coming of age. Gibby has twin older brothers. Both went to war. One died in combat and the other, Jason, came back completely changed. After serving 3 years in prison Jason returns home seeking a connection with 18 year-old Gibby. Warned to stay away from Jason by his parents, Gibby nonetheless goes on a day trip with Jason to the lake with two older women. One of the women is murdered and Jason is immediately considered a suspect. Gibby desperately tries to investigate the crime, but when the second woman is kidnapped while Jason is in jail, the police turn their eye on Gibby. Gibby and his police officer father race to establish Jason's innocence and discover the secrets Jason tried so hard to hide - what happened to him in the war, why he was framed, and why the most dangerous man alive wants him back in prison. This book is a wild ride. The main characters are well-developed. Their interactions with each other are hard to read sometimes, but they are so dynamic and raw that you feel like you're in the room with them. Just when you think you know what's going on, the author unravels another secret and your opinion changes. I was just a baby when the Vietnam War was going on, but from everything I've read and seen, it seems like it was a devastating thing to endure. It's no wonder it left so many young men scarred for life. It's a shame that PTSD was not understood as well during this era so that people could have been given better treatment. The book is a rollercoaster of emotions and action and it's hard to put down. The ending is bittersweet, but fitting for the storyline. I highly recommend you read this book. You won't be disappointed! I was given a complimentary copy of this book by NetGalley and St. Martin's Press. All opinions in this review are my own.

  30. 5 out of 5

    Kay

    This one started out so good and I love the flawed characters (most of them anyway), some people just can't catch a break can they?! Honestly I don't love some parts of the second half, but the intense ending brought it back to a satisfying read. This is my first John Hart novel and I have other books I'm planning to read. The writing is superb with complex characters and I enjoy the southern flair. This one started out so good and I love the flawed characters (most of them anyway), some people just can't catch a break can they?! Honestly I don't love some parts of the second half, but the intense ending brought it back to a satisfying read. This is my first John Hart novel and I have other books I'm planning to read. The writing is superb with complex characters and I enjoy the southern flair.

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