Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Promise Not To Tell

Promise Not To Tell
Author: Jennifer McMahon
William Morrow, 2008
250 pages

This is a book I'd been wanting to read for quite a while when I finally picked it up. It's my first introduction to Vermont-based author Jennifer McMahon, and let's just say it now: I was blown away with the writing and the story.

Main character Kate Cypher has returned to her old childhood home -- a former hippie commune in Vermont -- to look after her elderly mother, who has dementia. The murder of a local girl on the very night that Kate arrives brings back memories of a similar and still unsolved murder some thirty years earlier, where the victim was Kate's neighbor and secret friend Del. As the only female being raised in a poor farming household, Del was ostracized and bullied for being different. In the decades since her murder, Del has become of sort of legend, and many believe that her ghost still wanders the woods at night. Some even think Del's ghost is responsible for the killing of the most recent victim.

The story bounces back and forth between the 1970s and the early 2000s, and as we get deeper inside Kate's head, we realize just how responsible and remorseful she feels about Del's death and how this tragic event has impacted her life. The plot twists as we meet characters as they were "then" and "now" with some surprises. Promise Not To Tell isn't just a whodunnit, it's a fine example of literary fiction, and I look forward to reading more from this author in the future.