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Dismantled: A Novel Hardcover

3.9 out of 5 stars 108 customer reviews

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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. --This text refers to the Paperback edition.

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 --This text refers to the Paperback edition.
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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 432 pages
  • Publisher: Harper; 1 edition
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B002SB8P8S
  • Product Dimensions: 6.3 x 1.4 x 9.3 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.4 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 3.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (108 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,590,628 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

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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Format: Paperback
I'm not going to re-hash the plot, as others have already kindly delineated it all before me :)

The best part of the story, for me, was the "spooky" events that happen, which you can't really be sure are either really, truly supernatural events, or if there is some logical explanation for everything. You have Emma's imaginary friend Danner, which gets creepy when Emma, inspired by her artistic parents, decides to make a life-size doll rendering of Danner. And I don't give want to give away too spoilers, but I will say that there's a twist at the end that suggests Danner's origin, which ends up being slightly creepy after all (and it was foreshadowed earlier in the book, I realized in retrospect). I had a tough time sympathizing with Suz, the brash loudmouth "leader" of the Dismantlers, and it was impossible for me to understand why a group of seemingly intelligent college kids would follow her and hold her in such high regard.

I found some parts unrealistic. Possible SPOILERS ahead, skip the starred section if you haven't read yet:

******There's no way that Henry could mistake the Danner doll for a human form wrapped to look like the doll. I realize it said Emma filled the doll with sand to make it heavy, but that still doesn't approximate the weight of a human being. No matter how out of it Henry might have been, I still think he'd be able to tell the difference. Also, I can't believe two people can row a canoe out on the lake with the big moose sculpture AND the third person wrapped in the doll inside it and have the whole thing stay afloat. That's terribly unrealistic! And it was a little too convenient to throw in the unknown mystery character at the very end. If there was a going to be a mystery character, it should have been hinted at previously in the book.
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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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