Anat Rosenberg
April 06, 2007 AT 04:00 AM EDT

On the night Kate Cypher returns to Vermont to tend her Alzheimer’s-stricken mother, a teenage girl is found dead in the woods nearby. The killing is strikingly similar to the murder of Kate’s childhood friend, scrappy misfit Del. In her debut novel, Promise Not to Tell, Jennifer McMahon unfurls a whirlwind of suspense in chapters that alternate between 1971 and 2002: Are the two homicides connected? Is someone trying to frame Kate for both? Is Del seeking revenge from the afterlife? Combining murder mystery and coming-of-age tale with supernatural elements, this taut novel is above all a reflection on the haunting power of memory. A-

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