Book Review: “Promise Not to Tell” by Jennifer McMahon.

Publisher: Harper Collins
Pages: 250
Genre: Adult, Fiction, Mystery, Suspense
Price: $13.95
Format: Time-split 1970s/2000s, 3 Parts, 19 Chapters

Find It: Amazon  /  Goodreads  /  Author Website

First Line: “When the potato girl was murdered, the killer cut out her heart.”

Description from Book:
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 is seems… and the grim specters of her youth are far from forgotten.

Topics Covered: friendship, betrayal, haunting past, abuse, death, family dynamics

My Review: “Promise Not to Tell” is the story of a woman, Kate, who goes back to her home town to take care of her mother. Her mother, throughout Kate’s childhood and the present, is involved in a hippie commune that live right outside of town. While back at home, as the book description says, everything goes to hell.

The book is split between the 1970s and the 2000s which I typically don’t like, but this split added to the effect of the story. In the 1970s, the reader follows the story of child Kate and her friend Del. Their friendship is a communion between two outsiders. Anyone who has ever felt like a freak or weirdo will completely relate to how these two girls become friends. The story becomes wild, fast-paced, and heartbreaking within a few blinks of the chapters. Your heart will ache for Del and your adult mind will chastise Kate for her childhood choices.

In the 2000s, the reader follows the story of adult Kate taking care of her mother and getting unintentionally wrapped up in a current murder investigation. Kate relies on some interesting characters, friends of her mothers and townspeople, to get through the investigation and mystery. The present day in the book adds in a touch of supernatural, suspense, and magic.

I absolutely, completely, whole-heartedly loved this book. I often see books said to be “page turners”. McMahon’s novel truly is this. I found myself waking up before my alarm clock just to sneak in a chapter before work. And I will admit I stayed up much too late a few nights, not being able to leave off at the end of any chapter.

McMahon does a really nice job of bringing characters close enough to the reader that you will feel compassion and concern for them. Luckily, McMahon doesn’t get lost in overly descriptive narratives. Her character’s personalities and charm are simple and to the point. It doesn’t take long to like/dislike characters in this book.

I think a good way to judge a book is by how you feel when you finish the last sentence. After closing this book, I wanted to open it up and start it all over again. I wanted to somehow fix the past mistakes in Kate’s life. Best of all, the characters still pop up in my mind from time to time, and I finished this book a week ago.

Overall Rating: 5/5

Del smiled, showing her broken tooth.
“I have something to show you. A secret thing. Want to see?” 

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