From Publishers Weekly
Starred Review. A prank gone wrong drives this outstanding novel from bestseller McMahon (Island of Lost Girls
). The summer after graduation, four friends, who formed an art group called the Compassionate Dismantlers at Vermont's Sexton College, live together in a remote cabin and commit increasingly brash acts of sabotage. When they go too far and their leader, Suz Pierce, dies, the group disbands, vowing never to speak about what happened. Ten years later, two of the group, Henry DeForge and Tess Kahle, are unhappily married with a nine-year-old daughter, Emma. When the suicide of a Sexton friend sends a PI digging into the past, Henry and Tess fear that the dead may not be truly buried. By alternating the present-day lives of Henry, Tess and Emma with the origins of the Dismantlers, McMahon allows the inexorable sense of dread to build incrementally. Perhaps most memorable are not the young artists but Emma, a child whose intense imagination only adds fuel to the slow-burning fire. (June)
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“Dismantlement equals freedom.” “To understand the nature of a thing, it must be taken apart.” These are the credos of the Compassionate Dismantlers, a subversive clique of art majors in a Vermont college spearheaded by a sexy and diabolical prankster. Suz purports to be an eco-saboteur, but jealousy and revenge are her primary motives. How strangely bewitched her followers are, how dangerous their actions become, and how wretchedly things go wrong. Nine years after the outlaw group’s catastrophic demise, survivors Henry and Tess live isolated in the countryside, harboring a ruinous secret. Now it seems that the time of reckoning is at hand. As their sweet, preternatural nine-year-old daughter, Emma, grows increasingly, even maniacally devoted to her imaginary friend, inexplicable messages appear, crucial objects disappear, and someone is watching, if not stalking the increasingly freaked-out family. Are the Dismantlers reassembling? In her third, elegantly spooky mystery revolving around the vulnerability of a young girl and a haunting past, McMahon fashions a fresh and entrancing ghost-in-the-woods tale replete with startling psychoses, delectable Hitchcockian motifs, and dangerous attractions. --Donna Seaman