I’ll Never Tell by Catherine McKenzie

I’ll Never Tell by Catherine McKenzie
Publisher: Lake Union
Genre: Contemporary, Suspense/Mystery
Length: Full length (380 pages)
Rating: 4.5 stars
Reviewed by Cholla

What happened to Amanda Holmes?

Twenty years ago, she was found bludgeoned in a rowboat at the MacAllister family’s Camp Macaw. No one was ever charged with the crime.
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Now, after their parents’ sudden deaths, the MacAllister siblings return to camp to read the will and decide what to do with the prime real estate the camp occupies. Ryan needs to sell. Margaux hasn’t made up her mind. Mary believes in leaving well enough alone. Kate and Liddie—the twins—have opposing views. And Sean Booth, the groundskeeper, just hopes he still has a home when all is said and done.

But it’s more complicated than a simple vote. The will stipulates that until they unravel the mystery of what happened to Amanda, they can’t settle the estate. Any one of them could have done it, and each one is holding a piece of the puzzle. Will they work together to finally discover the truth, or will their secrets finally tear the family apart?

You never quite get past a tragedy that happens in your youth. It’s even harder when it’s of your friends involved in the accident. But how do you get past it when someone you love – a member of your own family – might have caused the incident in the first place? How do you cope with knowing someone you’re so close to has been keeping such a horrible secret?

Told from several points of view, I’ll Never Tell pieces together one summer night from twenty years previous. Bit by bit, the mystery is put together until you know who hurt Amanda Holmes. I love that one of the points of view is Amanda’s, it lends an authenticity and an emotional element to the novel. Her voice was probably my favorite because she was the only one you could truly trust. All the others had something to hide for one reason or another.

Of all the siblings, Ryan is the only one I felt badly for. He was outright accused by his father of harming Amanda, but never to his face. I can’t imagine how much of a gut punch it had to have been to find out in your father’s will that he suspected you of something so awful. Now, Ryan wasn’t a saint, but he had put in extra effort to become a better person after that summer. I think liked Margo the best though since she seemed to have it together more than Mary, Liddie, or Kate. Sean, I don’t know what it was about him, but he gave me the creeps from the very beginning. All in all, they make for an interesting and unique cast of characters. Each holding onto their own secrets, not telling a soul about what they’re harboring. It makes for a very effective suspect pool.

I’ll Never Tell is a rollercoaster ride of lies, deceptions, and secrets hidden for twenty years. The author does an excellent job of distracting you with false clues, making you suspect one person while all along it was someone else. I’ll say this much – I had two suspects high on my list and it wound up being neither in the end. The author is just that good. I’ll Never Tell is one of the most gripping, engrossing novels I’ve read so far this year.

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