cover image Final Spin

Final Spin

Jocko Willink. St. Martin’s, $26.99 (224p) ISBN 978-1-250-27685-8

Former Navy SEAL and children’s book author Willink (Way of the Warrior Kid series) marks his adult fiction debut with the downbeat and gripping story of a group of characters abandoned by the American Dream. At age 23, Johnny cares for his alcoholic mother and mentally challenged brother, Arty, while holding down a dead-end job as a stock boy at a big box store. Arty is obsessed with clean clothes, and when the Laundromat where he works is slated to be sold, Johnny decides to buy the business in order to keep Arty employed. To come up with the $40,000 he needs, Johnny and his best friend, Goat, decide to rob the safe at their store, hand off the money to the owner, then hightail it to Mexico. They get the money, but the getaway scheme is flawed from the start, and Johnny and Goat quickly have the state police on their trail. To make matters worse, Johnny is forced to say goodbye to his girlfriend, Jessica, who has just found out she is pregnant. Willink tells his story in quick blasts of haiku-like writing (Johnny on the customers at his workplace: “People: Flesh-covered robot beings in need of fuel and meaning./ They find both here”), with dialogue reminiscent of early David Mamet. Told with a gritty simplicity, this retains a hold on the reader right through to the inevitable tragic climax. (Nov.)