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Product Details

  • Paperback: 250 pages
  • Publisher: William Morrow Paperbacks (April 10, 2007)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0061143316
  • ASIN: B002N2XFRI
  • Product Dimensions: 7.8 x 5.3 x 0.7 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 7.2 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (212 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #82,299 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Part mystery-thriller and part ghost story, McMahon's well-paced debut alternates smoothly between past and present. In the fall of 2002, 41-year-old Kate Cypher, a divorced Seattle school nurse, returns to New Hope, the decaying Vermont hippie commune where she grew up, to visit her elderly mother, Jean, who's suffering from Alzheimer's. Kate has avoided New Hope since the grizzly, unsolved murder of her fifth-grade friend, Del Griswold, 31 years earlier. Kate fears she betrayed Del, a free-spirited farm girl. Did her betrayal cause Del's death? Who killed Del? Another local girl is murdered in a similar manner at the time of Kate's return. Could the killer be loose again? Meanwhile, Jean appears to be possessed with Del's spirit and may have the answers to these questions. As Kate investigates, she learns stunning truths about many events and people from her youth. McMahon does a particularly good job of portraying the cruelty of school children. (Apr.)
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

From Booklist

This assured, ambitious debut novel offers an unusual mix of mystery novel and ghost story, with particularly well-drawn coming-of-age themes. School nurse Kate Cypher returns to her hometown in Vermont to care for her mother, who is suffering from Alzheimer's. It's not a happy homecoming, since Kate never liked the cultlike atmosphere of the commune she grew up in. Not long after her arrival, a local girl is murdered in the same way Kate's childhood friend, Del, nicknamed the "Potato Girl" by her mean-spirited classmates, was killed 30 years ago. Seriously spooked, Kate reconnects with her childhood sweetheart, who is utterly convinced that Del's ghost is afoot in the woods and intent on seeking revenge. McMahon deftly juggles a complex narrative, which smoothly interweaves the past and the present, while also credibly introducing supernatural elements by presenting them through Kate's skeptical viewpoint. But McMahon's real coup is her touching characterization of the brave and desperate Del. It is through that portrait that McMahon drives home the cruelty of childhood bullying. Joanne Wilkinson
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved

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Customer Reviews

I couldn't put this book down read it in a day.
Penny1983
I enjoyed this book very much and would recommend it to anyone who likes suspense.
Ann Martin
Jennifer McMahon's characters are interesting and believable.
Blon Mccue

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

57 of 59 people found the following review helpful By Z Hayes HALL OF FAMETOP 50 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on June 24, 2007
Format: Paperback
Jennifer McMahon's debut novel is impressive and showcases the author's narrative skill. The story centers around protagonist Kate Cypher, who returns to her childhood home in New Canaan in 2002, and finds herself revisiting memories of the past, way back in 1971 when a girl Del Griswold, nicknamed the Potato Girl is found murdered. Interestingly, and ominously, a murder takes place in the present, also involving a young girl, Tori. The story weaves back and forth between the past and present,but it never seems disjointed. Instead, it makes for a compelling read...not to give too much away, there are various themes explored here, such as bullying, child abuse, betrayal, and even a supernatural element. It could have been confusing, instead the author skillfully weaves a thought-provoking, intriguing story that will hold you spellbound.
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34 of 36 people found the following review helpful By E. Lawrence on May 10, 2007
Format: Paperback
I can't even remember the last time that I read a book as multi-faceted as "Promise Not To Tell." Within the span of just 250 pages, I was seriously frightened. And then laughing. Followed by a lump in my throat. Finished off by a darn good mystery. I am going to recommend this book to everyone I know. I can't stop thinking about it even now. You will never meet a more unforgettable character than Delores Griswold. I was scared both for her and by her. Jennifer McMahon, I'll be remembering your name in the future! Wonderful!
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35 of 40 people found the following review helpful By Cor M on August 26, 2008
Format: Paperback
I was actually extremely disappointed in this book. The beginning of the book was so incredibly engrossing with its description of Del and Kate's friendship and experiences. I loved the descprition of the farm house and the root cellar and all the the creepy little kid things that Kate experienced while being friends with Del.

However, I disliked Kate as a person because she lied about EVERYTHING. As a grown woman, she continued to lie all the time, lying that she and Del were even friends to protect herself from being involved with the murder. She lived with Del's murder hovering over her, knowing that she knew so many details about Del...her tattoo and what it might signify. I was so disappointed in her...I understand her lying as a 10 year old girl because she was scared, but as a grown 41 year old woman, it just made me so angry to read.

Some parts of this book were so wonderful. The last 30 pages or so, were just so infuriating.

It is a very quick read, it is suspensful at times, but the end is definitely a let down.
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18 of 20 people found the following review helpful By Diana F. Von Behren TOP 500 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on July 9, 2007
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
For a debut novel, Jennifer McMahon's "Promise Not to Tell" provides its reader with an entertaining blend of suspense, the supernatural and self-discovery that succeeds on many levels.

As a documentalist, McMahon does justice to the era of the 1970s where hippie communities like the fictional New Hope, Vermont brought up a generation of free-love progeny that needed to assimilate from the blue jean wearing age of Aquarius to the pin-striped world of yuppie Wall Street as they left the cooperative and entered their revenue-generating adulthood. With a confident finesse, she focuses on her main character Kate's outsider status, flip-flopping the perspective from that of a hippie-raised ten-year-old girl to that of a divorced 41-year-old woman returning to the commune to deal with her aging mother's Alzheimer's.

Kate's psychological issues exceed the responsibility of caring for her mother. As a lonely child, branded as one of the hippie children with the need to be accepted by her classmates from town, she has but one friendship, a secret relationship with the school pariah, Del, unaffectionately called by her peers, `the Potato Girl.' Due to circumstances that Kate feels she has orchestrated and for which she cannot forgive herself, an unknown assailant brutally kills Del in 1971. Now almost thirty years later, the murder of a teenage girl makes it seem as if the long-dead Potato Girl seeks an voracious retribution that may include payback directed towards her one time friend.

McMahon's strength as a writer lies in her ability to forge empathy between the reader and her heroine that is believable from Kate's past and present personas.
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8 of 8 people found the following review helpful By Laurel Bradley on October 21, 2007
Format: Paperback
I just finished PROMISE NOT TO TELL by Jennifer McMahon. A fast read, it was creepy, ghostly, disturbing and yet compelling. Forty-one-year-old Kate Cypher returns to rural Vermont to take care of her Altheimer afflicted mother. The night she returns, two twelve-year-old girls, Tori and Opal, are sitting around a campfire with a couple of boys telling ghost stories about the "The Potato Girl." Thirty years ago "The Potato Girl," Kate's friend Del Griswold, was murdered. The crime was never solved, but stories of young Del live on.

Tori leaves the fire to relieve herself and is murdered in a crime horribly similar to Del's murder. This new murder causes Kate's past and present to collide in eerie ways. PROMISE NOT TO TELL is fast-paced and memorable. I read it in two sittings.
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14 of 16 people found the following review helpful By KDMask VINE VOICE on June 12, 2007
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I read this in 2 goes. What a tale of mystery this is! Once you get used to the jumping of dates, it becomes a seamless read that will leave you wanting more. I really loved the details about the "hippie" camp and life of "Potato Girl". This would also be a great book for older-teen mystery lovers that liked to be creeped out. I hope to see more from this author in the future.
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