Wednesday, April 8, 2009

When did clowns and little girls get so scary?

Promise Not to Tell by Jennifer McMahon

I like mysteries that are not labeled as mysteries and just kind of reveal themselves to be once you’re reading it. That’s what happened with Promise Not to Tell by Jennifer McMahon. It was an engrossing book about murder and revenge and all that fun stuff you expect out of a great mystery. Plus there’s a ghost. Awesome. The thing is, I have this strange habit of assuming the protagonist is somehow the murderer in basically every thriller/mystery I read. It’s quite annoying and surprisingly distracting. I don’t know when I lost total faith in the character telling me her story, but at some point the trust disappeared and I was left just waiting for the moment when it is revealed that the person I’ve been listening to for the past 200-odd pages is really the psycho bent on murder. So let’s just get that out of the way right now: Kate is not the killer. There are times when she’s not the most fleshed out character, but the first victim, Del Griswold, is a great person to meet and feel for and even admire. She is probably the main reason I recommend the book; because her presence, despite being the victim, is strong and ever-present in the novel. It was a book I did not want to put down, and although ghosts open the door for situations that could deflate an otherwise realistic story with unexplained conveniences, McMahon accomplished what she set out to do; tell a story about redemption and a darn scary murder. Oh, and because I happen to know someone who does not like to read about kids bullying kids, I would just like to inform that person now that this book does involve that subject. And although it is brief, it does form a key and deeply moving element to the story. So heads up.

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