Summary: 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.
Source: I purchased a paperback from a used book store.
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Promise Not To Tell was great! I’m a huge fan of the author and I love how her books are full of secrets, small towns, and otherworldly aspects that add in just the right amount of weirdness. The combination makes for an exciting book because there are just as many human motives for things and it could easily be a story just about secrets, but the added mystery of whatever otherworldly element throws enough of a curve into the story that you don’t quite know what to expect. In Promise Not To Tell, the strange happenings in the small town have to do with ghosts. More importantly, the ghost is that of Kate’s friend from her childhood, Del.
Del was the Potato Girl. She was bullied, weird, hated, and had a complicated life. Kate was her friend, but pretended not to be in order to not commit social suicide. She felt a lot of guilt as an adult about the way she treated Del and I was anxious to watch that story unfold throughout the book. I wanted to know what exactly happened to Del and what Kate’s role in her death or her embarrassment that day was. In the present, Kate’s mom, who still lived in the same town, was losing her memories. Kate came back to her hometown to help her mother and find a good place for long term care. But going back to her hometown opened up a can of worms as people and memories started flooding in. Another girl was hurt, extra secrets were uncovered, and something very weird was happening. People kept blaming the ghost of the Potato Girl, but everyone should know better, right?
I’m not going to give anything away, but I loved the characters and the plot of the book. I enjoyed seeing everything unfold. I didn’t know who the true killer was, if the same person who killed Del was responsible for the death of Opal’s friend, or if there was really any ghost stuff happening. the conclusion left me satisfied and it was one I really didn’t see coming. I bounced back and forth between who I thought was the killer in the present day and the past multiple times, which was kind of fun. I hate predictable mystery novels and I loved that Promise Not To Tell kept me guessing.
I highly recommend Promise Not To Tell and other books by Jennifer McMahon. This one isn’t my favorite, but it’s not my least favorite of hers, either. If you like mysteries, small towns, legends, ghost stories, and secrets, you can’t go wrong with any of McMahon’s books.