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234 Reviews
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58 of 60 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A riveting read!
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...
Published on June 24, 2007 by Z Hayes

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35 of 41 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars A bit of a disppointment
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...
Published on August 26, 2008 by Cor M


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58 of 60 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A riveting read!, June 24, 2007
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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36 of 38 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Haunting and Beautiful Story Awaits You, May 10, 2007
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 41 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars A bit of a disppointment, August 26, 2008
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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10 of 10 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Great Just-Before-Halloween Read, October 21, 2007
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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19 of 22 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Excellent Intuitive Entertainment, July 9, 2007
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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. Meeting characters from 1971 and revisiting them with their additional adult layers in 2002 adds just enough nuance to perhaps a routine suspense story to make it notable with intuitive passages that are worth reading again. Especially enjoyable was Kate's reunion with Nicky---an event the reader anticipates, but appreciates because of the delicious tension the author so shrewdly and honestly facilitates.

Bottom line? "Promise Not to Tell" explores themes of adolescent friendship, betrayal, loyalty, forgiveness and ultimate absolution that work well within the framework of a hippie community 30 years after its founding. Recommended for its wonderful characterizations; the suspense story reaches only a secondary level with a rather two-dimensional portrayal of the murderer at large.
Diana Faillace Von Behren
"reneofc"
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15 of 17 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Funny, Scary and downright addictive!, June 12, 2007
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KDMask (Rochester, NY) - See all my reviews
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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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22 of 27 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Its potential is buried under mediocre writing, forgettable characters, and an unbelievable plot twist. Not recommended, September 11, 2008
By 
Juushika (Oregon, United States) - See all my reviews
Kate returns home to care for her mother with Alzheimer's, but her return coincides with a murder that closely mimics a murder from Kate's childhood. Kate's remembers her small-town childhood and her friendship with the murdered "Potato Girl" while she explores what has become of her old family and friends and their possible connection to the recent murder. Promise Not to Tell is a promising combination of small rural town and ghostly murder mystery, but this potential is buried under mediocre writing, unremarkable characters, and an unbelievable plot twist. I was disappointed by this entirely mediocre book, and I don't recommend it.

Many aspects of this book--the small-town setting, the farmer's daughter, the ailing mother--aren't to my tastes, but I was open to trying something new and intrigued by the combination of a ghost story and a murder mystery. Unfortunately, the only good thing I have to say about this book is that the premise intrigued me enough to pick it up and, having picked it up, it was a fast and forgettable read. Promise Not to Tell is well-intended, and it has some promising aspects--including the premise and characters (which are a brave, unusual choice) and the intended themes. But all of these aspects are for naught: the book is dragged down into mediocrity, and the best thing about it is that it's soon finished and forgotten.

McMahon's writing style is amateur and undeveloped, and so it reads swiftly but leaves no lasting impact. It expresses the themes so blatantly that they become bland and meaningless. The narrator's constant dishonesty and weak sarcasm is vaguely irritating. The characters are sometimes promising, sometimes unpleasant, but largely--like the writing--forgettable. The plot does not redeem these factors: the book builds to pleasant (if exaggerated) suspense, but the final twist and reveal is so arbitrary and so unexplained that it's unbelievable and ruins everything that comes before. The book isn't outright bad or begging to be mocked, but it is entirely mediocre. It offers nothing, and it's not enjoyable to read. I had no idea what to expect from this author, but I certainly expected better of a book with such high reviews. I don't recommend it to any audience.
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Revenge of the Potato Girl, June 24, 2007
I am always pleasantly surprised when I find a book by a new author and buy it on a whim, then find that it is quite enjoyable. That's what happened with this book, and it was an excellent purchase on my part. For a first-time author, Ms.McMahon has a deft narrative touch, and gives her characters a real backstory while moving forward with the plot. This book is many things: a murder mystery, a ghost story, a coming-of-age novel, and a tale of the relationship between a daughter and her ill mother. The writing was crisp, and encouraged continuous page-turning so that I could get to the end and have all of the loose ends tied up, which they were. I look forward to future works from this talented author.
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17 of 21 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Waste of Time, June 24, 2011
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Why this book has such a high star rating, I'll never understand. The main character was annoying, immature, and worst of all completely incapable of appropriate behavior in serious moments. Making out when a child she knows is missing? And the sarcasm! It totally took you out of the story rendering any horror or thrill impotent. I found the book completely without merit, chill, or point. So sad I ordered this. It reads as if told by a 12 year old who is has been up too late and had too much sugar, all the while overly-impressed at the silly one-liners she spews while cracking herself up.
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Couldn't put it down, July 3, 2007
By 
C. Riordan (Bohemia, New York United States) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
I loved this book....It was a definite page turner. You really feel connected to the charachters and you can't wait to see what is going to happen next. Don't pick it up if you haven't got time to finish it because you are not going to want to put it down.
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Promise Not to Tell: A Novel
Promise Not to Tell: A Novel by Jennifer McMahon (Paperback - April 10, 2007)
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