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Promise Not to Tell [Kindle Edition]

Jennifer McMahon
4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (212 customer reviews)

Print List Price: $13.99
Kindle Price: $8.89
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Sold by: HarperCollins Publishers

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Book Description

Forty-one-year-old school nurse Kate Cypher has returned home to rural Vermont to care for her mother who's afflicted with Alzheimer's. On the night she arrives, a young girl is murdered—a horrific crime that eerily mirrors another from Kate's childhood. Three decades earlier, her dirt-poor friend Del—shunned and derided by classmates as "Potato Girl"—was brutally slain. Del's killer was never found, while the victim has since achieved immortality in local legends and ghost stories. Now, as this new murder investigation draws Kate irresistibly in, her past and present collide in terrifying, unexpected ways. Because nothing is quite what it seems . . . and the grim specters of her youth are far from forgotten.

More than just a murder mystery, Jennifer McMahon's extraordinary debut novel, Promise Not to Tell, is a story of friendship and family, devotion and betrayal—tautly written, deeply insightful, beautifully evocative, and utterly unforgettable.


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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

Product Details

  • File Size: 354 KB
  • Print Length: 250 pages
  • Publisher: William Morrow Paperbacks (April 20, 2008)
  • Sold by: HarperCollins Publishers
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B000SEF4UO
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
  • X-Ray:
  • Lending: Not Enabled
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #9,614 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
57 of 59 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A riveting read! 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
5.0 out of 5 stars A Haunting and Beautiful Story Awaits You 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
2.0 out of 5 stars A bit of a disppointment August 26, 2008
By Cor M
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
4.0 out of 5 stars Excellent Intuitive Entertainment 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
5.0 out of 5 stars Great Just-Before-Halloween Read 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
5.0 out of 5 stars Funny, Scary and downright addictive! 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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Most Recent Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars Promise a Very Good Read
Excellent book! Well rounded characters. Interesting plot twists. Surprising sometimes. Kept me up til 3am so I could see how it ended. Read more
Published 4 days ago by Elaine Southmayd
5.0 out of 5 stars Great book
I have not read any of this author's works before,but this was a very good book. I am looking forward to reading more. I thoroughly enjoyed the book.
Published 4 days ago by Deloris Davis
5.0 out of 5 stars First read of this author
Took a little to grab my attention but was a real page turner till the end....would read more by this author
Published 13 days ago by Pam Houser
4.0 out of 5 stars Strong debut
In 1971, ten-year-old Kate's secret best friend Del aka "the Potato Girl" was murdered in rural Vermont. Read more
Published 22 days ago by Pink Amy
4.0 out of 5 stars Good book
I enjoyed this book. It kept me reading and quessing. The picture on the cover reminded me of my granddaughter, which is one reason I purchased it.
Published 23 days ago by stonyhorse
4.0 out of 5 stars Good read!
Another scary thriller from this author, kept my interest to the end, trying to figure out "who donnit" This was a page turner!!
Published 1 month ago by ccoy3
4.0 out of 5 stars good ghost story if you don't believe in ghosts.
Good character discriptions but not too wordy. A good read. Hard to put down at times. I will certainly read more of Ms. McMahon's novels.
Published 2 months ago by gammie
5.0 out of 5 stars Thrilling
I love this thrilling story, because it goes between two different time periods and you get to experience the view from two different perspectives.
Published 2 months ago by Cassandra Johnson
4.0 out of 5 stars Good book
First book I ordered on my kindle. Kept me intrigued and coming back for more. Would recommend to friends and family.
Published 2 months ago by Joy Gonzales
5.0 out of 5 stars Must read for all those who love their psychological thrillers.
Do you like reading psychological fiction ? Love reading thrillers ? One of my favourite authors for targeting this type of genre is Jennifer McMahon. Read more
Published 4 months ago by Paula L. Phillips
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