Dismantled by Jennifer McMahon is a thriller, a murder mystery and a ghost story all wrapped up in one. Four college art students, Henry, Tess, Winnie & Suz, form what they called the "Compassionate Dismantlers". Their manifesto included the first rule, which was,
"To understand the nature of a thing, it must be taken apart"
What this basically means is vandalism, dangerous pranks, and other such things. But something goes wrong one night, and a dangerous prank turns deadly... Suz is dead, and the friends decide to cover it up...
Soon after we open the book, we meet Henry and a very pregnant Tess as they visit "the cabin". The cabin where 8 months before, they and two other college art students, Winnie & Suz, lived and breathed their "dismantler" philosophy. Where they plotted their pranks to prove their point that in order to "understand something, it must be taken apart". They were all idealistic, young, full of life. But when the pranks turned fatal and Suz died, it was last night they all spent in that cabin... But we're not quite sure how Suz died... We're not privy to that bit of information just yet...
The story then shifts to present day, 9 years later. Henry and Tess are leading their "normal" married lives with their 9 year old daughter Emma. We get to know their life as adults, as parents, and we get to know Emma who's a normal, sweet, curious girl, but who also has a secret- her imaginary friend Danner, who seems so much more than imaginary at times. She tells Emma things, things she shouldn't know... Or is Emma just hallucinating? Hmmm I wonder... We find things aren't that sweet between Henry & Tess anymore, as Henry is living out in the barn on his own. But Henry & Tess are held together by Emma and that terrible secret they've both buried in the back of their minds - what happened to Suz... In an attempt to get them back together Mel, Emma's best friend, says they need to investigate and find something they can use towards that purpose... The two find Suz's journal hidden away in the barn, with addresses for the other dismantlers, and decide to send postcards to each of them with only the phrase,
"Dismantlement = Freedom"
When the cryptic postcard arrives in the mail to 3 of the "dismantlers", things take a deadly turn. One of the recipients of the postcard commits suicide, and that leads to an investigation, and questions about what happened 10 years ago... Old wounds are opened up, strange things start to happen. Could Suz really come back from the dead? It sure seems so, and it's fantastic!
What Jennifer McMahon has done is amazing. The story shifts between the present to the past, giving us glimpses into the relationships (and secrets) & life between the four college students, and as Jennifer does this, the story slowly unfolds before our eyes. All the pieces magically fitting together. The characters are so dynamic. Their feelings shift between suspicion and desire and it's exactly how you'd expect people to deal with what is happening. The relationships between the characters are well written and you can feel the idealism they felt as young college students and you can understand the unique relationships that formed between them. Jennifer also did a great job developing Emma, Henry & Tess's little girl. The angst of a 9 year old trying to fit in, find herself, have people like her, and dealing with her best friend, was so well written it really brings her to life. The relationship between Emma and her imaginary friend Danner is downright eerie and wonderfully portrayed. And when strange things start to happen, the story takes on that ghost story kind of feel to it and I loved it!
I found the story quite an addictive page turner! I couldn't put it down, because I just had to know what was going to happen next! This was one of those books I stayed up WAY past my bedtime to keep reading! Filled with twists and turns to keep my attention, and the ending... let's just say I loved that too! I would definitely put it on your TBR list if you enjoy novels that are character driven with plenty of suspense, thrill and a twist of the supernatural!
About the Author:
Jennifer grew up in her grandmother’s house in suburban Connecticut, where she was convinced a ghost named Virgil lived in the attic. She wrote her first short story in third grade, graduated with a BA from Goddard College and then studied poetry for a year in the MFA in Writing Program at Vermont College. A poem turned into a story, which turned into a novel, and she decided to take some time to think about whether she wanted to write poetry or fiction. She quit her last real job in 2000 to work on writing full time. You can learn more about the author and her books at Jennifer McMahon's website. *BTW, my reading group read Jennifer's book, Island of Lost Girls and everyone really enjoyed it.
I read Dismantled as part of TLC Book Tours. And I want to thank Trish of TLC Book Tours for sending along a copy of Dismantle to review and the opportunity to participate in Jennifer McMahon' s Book Tour!
Hey, I'm sharing this book review at Cym Lowell's Book Review Party! You get follow the link to Cym Lowell's Blog to read more great reviews!