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Dismantled: A Novel Hardcover – June 16, 2009

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 432 pages
  • Publisher: Harper; 1 edition (June 16, 2009)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0061689335
  • ISBN-13: 978-0061689338
  • Product Dimensions: 6 x 1.3 x 9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.4 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (86 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,938,818 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

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)
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

From Booklist

“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

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Customer Reviews

Many times I figure out the ending not far into a book.
Taressa Riley
I devoured this book in one day and could not put it down.
The plot keeps you twisting and turning full of wonder.
Regina Niesen

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

45 of 55 people found the following review helpful By Sir William on June 28, 2010
Format: Hardcover
Where to begin??? I can't believe that a handful of professional critics offered any praise at all for this drivel... I guess that fact alone says all that needs to be said about the state (and honesty) of book reviews in today's press... But I digress. "One of the brightest new stars of literary suspense" -- LA Times. Puh-Lease...

For starters, there are more than a few plot and factual inconsistencies and errors. Take the wooden moose 'sculpture' for example. It is made entirely of wood and stands 6' tall at the shoulder. Yet, somehow, 4 college kids fit it into the back of a regular van and drive it around. WHAT??? In what world does that make any sense? And then (spoiler alert if you are a masochist and read this book), to top it all off, those meddling kids put this same 6' tall wooden moose in a canoe with two people and row it out onto a lake! Really?!?! Are you kidding me?!?! SCOOBY-DOO, where are you??? I have to admit that I did almost enjoy the belly laugh that I got from that scene -- two people in a canoe with a 6' moose paddling around... that is funny stuff right there. I would hazard to guess the author has never been in a real canoe... nor could pick one out of a line-up. They are actually narrow, unstable crafts... and the ones carved from actual trees sink very easily.

And then there is the sophmoric writing style... the often maligned "It was a dark and stormy night..." now has a rival in "He pushes the button on his key chain to unlock the truck... The truck beeps its mechanical hello." Again, REALLY?!?!? 'Mechanical Hello'? LOL.

Finally, the author commits the most cursed, lazy, and cheap trick in the (ahem) book... SHE INTRODUCES A NEW CHARACTER IN THE LAST 5 PAGES OF THE BOOK! Hello...!!!
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7 of 8 people found the following review helpful By Frank J. Konopka VINE VOICE on September 21, 2010
Format: Paperback
This is the third book I have read by this author, and I have enjoyed them all very much. This latest work tells of four college friends who form a `society" to "dismantle" things with which they do not agree, including an annoying college professor. The book takes place in the present day, but there are flashbacks to a time 10 years previously when Suz, one of the group, supposedly died and was put into a lake to hide her body.

The present then concentrates on two of the remaining members, who are married to each other and have a 9 year old named Emma. Now Emma is a very odd child, with a fixation on the number 9 and also the painting of a moose named Francis. She puts the plot in gear by sending postcards to all of the society members (she doesn't realize that Suz is supposed to be dead), in the hope that if they all get together again, possibly her parents estrangement will end. Best laid plans, however...

Excitement builds as a series of strange happenings occur, and Emma's invisible friend appears to be the source of most of them. One of the other society members shows up at the old lake house which was used by the society, and where Suz was put into the lake. It also appears that Suz may not be dead after all, and might be seeking revenge against her former cohorts. Many things happen, and it wouldn't be fair to future readers to discuss them, for that would spoil the plot of an excellent book that I highly recommend, especially to those folks who have read this author's previous works.
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8 of 10 people found the following review helpful By MomAdvice on October 12, 2009
Format: Hardcover
I devoured this book in one day and could not put it down. I have never read this author before, but if this is any indication of her work, then I am completely hooked.

The book is about a group of four art students who form a group called the Compassionate Dismantlers. Their fearless leader, Suze, encourages them to commit petty crimes and vandalize with their motto being, "To understand the nature of a thing, it must be taken apart."

The book flash forwards to ten years later and Henry & Tess, two people that were in the group, are now married and have a child together. They have been living with a secret for ten years of a prank that has gone horribly wrong and both seem haunted by the crime. It is pulling them away from their marriage and neither can seem to get over what has happened.

Their daughter is anti-social and has created an imaginary friend who is helping her to bring her parents together. She finds an old journal and pictures and sends a postcard to all of the former members of her parent's group with their motto on it.

The postcard triggers a suicide and a chain of twists and turns that are as horrifying and thrilling as any good horror movie.

The book kept me up at night until the shocking conclusion that will lead you on a crazy roller coaster.

I can't wait to read more from this author!
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Format: Hardcover
From reading the publishers reviews of this title, I expected Dismantled to be riveting. Although it is well-plotted for the most part and moves towards a "frightening" conclusion, McMahon asks a lot from her readers and expects a high degree of naiveté. Between the oddly-prescient nine-year-old Emma De Forge, Emma's invisible sidekick, Danner, and the four college students who style themselves "the Compassionate Dismantlers", complete with manifesto, there are lots of misdirections in the story. On the face of it, the Compassionate Dismantlers are college rebels who indulge in petty pranks and criminal behavior on behalf of their beliefs, gathering at a remote Vermont cabin, where tragedy strikes one harrowing night, leaving the group with a dark secret.

In the near-decade since the group disbanded, Emma's parents, Henry and Tess, find their marriage floundering, the past weighing like a stone on the present. Suddenly it all becomes real again in the form of a postcard, Henry and Tess convinced their rural property is haunted by the dead. Emma begins snooping into her father's hidden papers at the instigation of her goofy school friend, Mel, the girls convinced the key to bringing the couple together lies in awakening the past. Emma's other friend is invisible; Danner tells secrets to Emma, their conversations increasingly troubling as evidenced in Emma's erratic behavior. Danner comes to life in the form of a rag doll Emma makes from scraps. The farm is literally crawling with malevolent characters, real and imagined, including a private detective who has been hired to dig into the suspicious activities of the Compassionate Dismantlers years ago at the cabin in Vermont.
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