Friday, May 04, 2007

Pg. 69: Jennifer McMahon's "Promise Not to Tell"

The current feature at the Page 69 Test: Jennifer McMahon's debut novel, Promise Not to Tell.

About the book, from the author's website:
A woman’s past and present collide with unexpected results in this hauntingly beautiful debut novel set in rural Vermont

Interweaving past and present, Promise Not To Tell is a story of friendship, secrets, murder, and redemption. At its center is Kate Cypher, a reserved 41-year-old school nurse who returns to the small town of New Canaan, VT, to care for her Alzheimer’s-afflicted mother. The night she arrives, a young girl is murdered. Slowly Kate is drawn into the investigation — and deep into the childhood she’s tried to escape — for the killing eerily echoes the death of another young girl: her childhood friend, Del. Poor, misunderstood, Del suffered the taunts of classmates who shunned her and called her “Potato Girl.” But in Del, 10-year-old Kate found a kindred spirit, until a painful falling out shattered their relationship shortly before Del’s death.

As the investigation unfolds, the facets of Kate’s life collide in a terrifying way: her mother is quickly deteriorating, her old friends are never quite what they seem, and the ghosts of her childhood have emerged to haunt her. Tautly written, deeply insightful, and beautifully evocative, Promise Not To Tell is a riveting and unforgettable debut.
Among the early praise for the novel:
"'What's the worst thing you've ever done?' That's the question, posed by a stranger, that 41-year-old Kate Cypher can't get out of mind in McMahon's impressive debut.... McMahon's gift is the deliciously twisty way she subverts all your expectations, keeping you guessing with wry wit and feverish chills. 'The dead can blame,' one character says. And the truth, this whipsmart novel reminds us, can break your heart. 4 out of 4 stars"

“Well-plotted suspenseful fun.”

“Part mystery-thriller and part ghost story, McMahon’s well-paced debut alternates smoothly between past and present…. McMahon does a particularly good job of portraying the cruelty of school children.”
--Publishers Weekly

“Deeply disturbing and darkly compelling, Promise Not to Tell will have you looking over your shoulder for the Potato Girl long after you’ve turned the last page.”
--Sara Gruen
Browse inside Promise Not to Tell for an excerpt or read a briefer excerpt at Jennifer McMahon's website.

Visit McMahon's MySpace page and the group blog, "The Debutante Ball."

The Page 69 Test: Promise Not to Tell.

--Marshal Zeringue