Dismantled

Dismantled

3.9 143
by Jennifer McMahon, Elisabeth Rodgers
     
 

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Dismantlement = Freedom

Henry, Tess, Winnie, and Suz banded together in college to form a group they called the Compassionate Dismantlers. Following the first rule of their manifesto—"To understand the nature of a thing, it must be taken apart"—these daring misfits spend the summer after graduation in a remote cabin in the Vermont woods committing acts of

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Overview

Dismantlement = Freedom

Henry, Tess, Winnie, and Suz banded together in college to form a group they called the Compassionate Dismantlers. Following the first rule of their manifesto—"To understand the nature of a thing, it must be taken apart"—these daring misfits spend the summer after graduation in a remote cabin in the Vermont woods committing acts of meaningful vandalism and plotting elaborate, often dangerous, pranks. But everything changes when one particularly twisted experiment ends in Suz's death and the others decide to cover it up.

Nearly a decade later, Henry and Tess are living just an hour's drive from the old cabin. Each is desperate to move on from the summer of the Dismantlers, but their guilt isn't ready to let them go. When a victim of their past pranks commits suicide—apparently triggered by a mysterious Dismantler-style postcard—it sets off a chain of eerie events that threatens to engulf Henry, Tess, and their inquisitive nine-year-old daughter, Emma.

Is there someone who wants to reveal their secrets? Is it possible that Suz did not really die—or has she somehow found a way back to seek revenge?

Full of white-knuckle tension with deeply human characters caught in circumstances beyond their control, Jennifer McMahon's gripping story and spine-tingling plot prove that she is a master at weaving the fear of the supernatural with the stark realities of life.

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly

A prank gone wrong drives this outstanding novel from bestseller McMahon (Island of Lost Girls). The summer after graduation, four friends, who formed an art group called the Compassionate Dismantlers at Vermont's Sexton College, live together in a remote cabin and commit increasingly brash acts of sabotage. When they go too far and their leader, Suz Pierce, dies, the group disbands, vowing never to speak about what happened. Ten years later, two of the group, Henry DeForge and Tess Kahle, are unhappily married with a nine-year-old daughter, Emma. When the suicide of a Sexton friend sends a PI digging into the past, Henry and Tess fear that the dead may not be truly buried. By alternating the present-day lives of Henry, Tess and Emma with the origins of the Dismantlers, McMahon allows the inexorable sense of dread to build incrementally. Perhaps most memorable are not the young artists but Emma, a child whose intense imagination only adds fuel to the slow-burning fire. (June)

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Library Journal

Ten years ago, five students went into the Vermont woods to live and breathe their art in a cabin by a lake; only four came back. The survivors—Tess, Henry, Winnie, and Spencer—have tried to forget that summer, but they are forced to confront it by a mysterious postcard that quotes Suz, the missing member and charismatic ringleader. Spencer kills himself, an act that sets in motion an investigation that will test Tess and Henry's rocky marriage and endanger their nine-year-old daughter, Emma. McMahon builds the suspense well, using several creepy fake-outs as she muddies the waters with a private detective, a mysterious art patron, and most potent of all, Emma's imaginary friend, Danner. But is Danner imaginary? A sign of mental imbalance? Or is she something more…ghostly? VERDICT No one here is particularly likable, especially Suz, with her tiresome manifesto of destruction, but McMahon's skill keeps the reader wondering just what happened that night at the lake and what form revenge will take. McMahon's previous literary thrillers, Promise Not To Tell(2007) and Island of Lost Girls(2008), sold well; expect some demand. It might also appeal to readers who enjoyed Donna Tartt's The Secret History.—Devon Thomas, DevIndexing, Chelsea, MI


—Devon Thomas
Kirkus Reviews
The collective sins of four college friends come home to roost more than a decade after a bizarre tragedy scattered them in this disturbing, darkly hypnotic novel by McMahon (Island of Lost Girls, 2008, etc.). In college, promising art students Tess and Henry belonged to a group called the "Compassionate Dismantlers." Led by Suz, a rebellious blond waif with bisexual tendencies and a healthy contempt for society and order, they proclaimed "Dismantlement Equals Freedom" and tormented a fellow student who had been one member's boyfriend. Eventually, something they did was so troubling that it continues to cast a dark and disturbing shadow over the now-married Tess and Henry. The troubled couple has separated: Henry has moved into a small apartment in the workshop in back of their Vermont home; Tess continues to live in the main house with their daughter Emma, a misfit who obsesses over a moose, the number nine and her affinity for an imaginary playmate. When an attempt to reconcile her parents backfires, the Dismantlers reunite in a way that Henry and Tess would have never imagined, bringing with them their penchant for spreading destruction and mayhem. As Henry struggles with his fears for his daughter, Tess deals with an unexpected attraction to a strange woman, and Emma simply struggles. McMahon's deftly creepy prose creates a world of chaos and abuse; the book brims with unexpected and often startling plot twists, taking the reader on a strange journey that never disappoints. But while the characters are memorable, they're also difficult to care about. Sometimes beautifully written and extraordinarily imaginative; the only thing it lacks is human interest. Agent: Daniel Lazar/WritersHouse
Stewart O’Nan
“A failed marriage. A long-buried secret. A lonely child’s imaginary friend. From these simple ingredients, Jennifer McMahon has constructed a fun, twisty thriller. Expect DISMANTLED to earn comparisons to THE SECRET HISTORY.”
Stewart O’Nan
“A failed marriage. A long-buried secret. A lonely child’s imaginary friend. From these simple ingredients, Jennifer McMahon has constructed a fun, twisty thriller. Expect DISMANTLED to earn comparisons to THE SECRET HISTORY.”
Stewart O'Nan
"A failed marriage. A long-buried secret. A lonely child’s imaginary friend. From these simple ingredients, Jennifer McMahon has constructed a fun, twisty thriller. Expect DISMANTLED to earn comparisons to THE SECRET HISTORY."
People Magazine
"McMahon’s gift is the deliciously twisty way she subverts all your expectations, keeping you guessing with wry wit and feverish chills."
Booklist
"In her third, elegantly spooky mystery revolving around the vulnerability of a young girl and a haunting past, McMahon fashions a fresh and entrancing ghost-in-the-woods tale replete with startling psychoses, delectable Hitchcockian motifs, and dangerous attractions."
Los Angeles Times (online)
"One of the brightest new stars of literary suspense."
People
“McMahon’s gift is the deliciously twisty way she subverts all your expectations, keeping you guessing with wry wit and feverish chills.”

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Product Details

ISBN-13:
9781615749201
Publisher:
Findaway World
Publication date:
07/28/2009
Edition description:
Playaway pre-loaded audio player
Product dimensions:
4.60(w) x 7.80(h) x 1.30(d)

Related Subjects

Read an Excerpt

Dismantled
A Novel

Chapter One

Present Day

"Dismantlement equals freedom."

Suz is there, whispering the words in his ear, each syllable hot and twisted. She's glowing, radiant, still twenty-one and burning with the fierce need to fuck up the world.

The dead don't age.

He finishes the knot, his hands steady, without the slightest tremble, then climbs onto the chair and throws the rope up over one of the beams in the kitchen. Old, hand-hewn beams his builder rescued from a salvage yard. They'd reminded him of Vermont. Of the cabin near the lake.

In his mind, he goes back ten years, sees Suz coming up the path, stepping into the clearing, pole in one hand, string of fish in the other: bass, sunfish, trout. They glisten like jewels, strung on the braided nylon rope she's carefully looped through their mouths and gills.

Suz's walk is a dance, her movements fluid, the silk tunic she wears flutters around her, making it seem as if the wind itself is carrying her, buoying her along like a kite.

She winks at him.

He loves her.

He hates her.

He doesn't want to be here, but there's no way he could ever leave. Once you're in her orbit, it's impossible to pull yourself away.

The others gather around as she lays the fish out on the table to clean them. She pulls the trout off the braided rope, lays it flat on newspaper, and slides the knife in, slitting it open along its belly from gills to vent. The fish opens its mouth, sucking at air. Suz smiles, showing crooked teeth, pushes her fingers gently inside the fish, widening the opening with her hand. The skin stretches; the movement of her fingersproduces a wet, tearing sound.

"To understand the nature of a thing, it must be taken apart," Suz says, tugging out a string of entrails, sticky and shimmering with rainbows, like oil on a puddle.

"You never really got it, did you, babycakes?" he hears her whisper in his ear.

"No," he tells her, slipping the rope around his neck, pulling the postcard from his pocket to look at one last time. "But I do now."

He steps off the chair.

The postcard falls from his hand, drifts to the floor in slow motion, turning: moose, words, moose, wordsâ€"until it lands, the carefully printed words facing up, the last thing he sees before losing consciousness:

Dismantled
A Novel
. Copyright © by Jennifer McMahon. Reprinted by permission of HarperCollins Publishers, Inc. All rights reserved. Available now wherever books are sold.

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What People are saying about this

Stewart O'Nan
“A failed marriage. A long-buried secret. A lonely child’s imaginary friend. From these simple ingredients, Jennifer McMahon has constructed a fun, twisty thriller. Expect DISMANTLED to earn comparisons to THE SECRET HISTORY.”

Meet the Author

Jennifer McMahon is the New York Times bestselling author of Don't Breathe a Word, Dismantled, Island of Lost Girls, and Promise Not to Tell. She grew up in suburban Connecticut and graduated from Goddard College. Over the years, she has been a house painter, farm worker, paste-up artist, pizza delivery person, and homeless–shelter staff member, and she has worked with mentally ill adults and children in various capacities. She lives in Vermont with her partner, Drea, and their daughter, Zella.

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Dismantled 3.9 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 143 reviews.
theReader278 More than 1 year ago
I loved reading this wonderful book! Jennifer McMahon did an excellent job in making you entertained for hours. Can only recommend.
sandiek More than 1 year ago
Four art students meet in college and soon form a group. Suz, Winnie, Tess and Henry are consumed by their art and by Suz's belief that to understand something, you must tear it down. Their group is named the Compassionate Dismantlers. They start out small, then graduate to "missions" such as shooting out transformers, burning art, and even kidnapping. They move into a cabin together. As a summer comes to an end, they start to fall apart with intra-group betrayals, secrets and alliances. The summer ends with a tragedy and the group breaks up. Fast forward ten years. Henry and Tess have married and have a daughter, Emma, who was conceived that summer. They are separated although still living in the same house and getting more and more distant from each other. Emma, desparate to find a way to get her parents back together, searches their studios and finds evidence of The Dismantlers. She sends a postcard to each member whose address she can find, writing only their motto: "DISMANTLEMENT = FREEDOM. To understand the nature of a thing, it must be taken apart." As the postcards are delivered, strange things start happening. Some of the members come back to town, and perhaps others have also secretly returned. Is the tragedy, hidden for a decade, about to be discovered? Have some members return to get revenge? McMahon rachets up the tension from page to page until the reader can't determine reality from fantasy. Wow, this book is amazing. The suspense level is intense with multiple plot twists and turns. The reader is sure they know what is happening and then a page turns and everything is different from what was perceived. The characters are realistic, and the group leader, Suz, is so vivid that the reader expects to look up and see her striding into their room. This book is recommended for mystery/suspense fans.
Sofiapia More than 1 year ago
This novel jumps right into action in the first couple of pages. The way the book is written is that every chapter there is a different character speaking. This way you can get to know the character better and you can establish a relationship with them. Throughout this book the Deforge parents, members of the former college group, "the Dismantlers", encounter strange mishaps. The only answer to these problems that seem reasonable to them would be that one of the group members who was murdered by others in the group, Suz, came back to life to haunt them. During this book the author takes you through flashbacks of past events, showing you exactly what this college group did. Back in present day life you see how this family is trying to cope with all these problems along with conjugal ones as well. When Winnie, another ex-member of the group, mysteriously shows up in town and visits Tess and Henry Deforge more problems start to happen. And at the end when things take a wrong turn and you find out Tess is inside a burning moose in a lake instead of a Suz doll, pieces come together and you soon realize all the lies and diabolical schemes that went behind all the characters back. I would recommend this book to anyone who is interested in somewhat confusing, backstabbing, suspenseful novels. It was a great read!
Luv2ReadCC More than 1 year ago
The originality of the story was great and the characters just made it better. If you like to be shocked you will like this book.
Applecheeks More than 1 year ago
Loved the twists and turns this book takes. Kept me guessing up to the very end. (Also kept me up reading late into the night).
the_book_cellar More than 1 year ago
I loved this book so much I could hardly put it down and then when I was done, I passed it on to anyone who would listen to me rave on and on. This was the most creepy, eerie, dark and captivating book i have ever read. And then never ending ending!?! it will leave you with a gasp and your jaw wide open!!!
masimmons More than 1 year ago
The story is about a group of college students who form a contravercial group called "The Compassionate Dismantlers". Under the direction of the groups capricious leader "Suz" the members create havoc and spread social disroder believing people will be more appreciative of a thing when it's taken apart or destroyed. Things become complicated when emotions run high and members start to turn on eachother ending in the death of their leader. Although this story was intriguing I found it a bit longwinded at times and could have been shortened. I will say that it was a page turner with an interesting ending. You will definitely enjoy it and the authors writing style. I look forward to reading more work from Jennifer McMahon.
AshleyRoseAW More than 1 year ago
Quite predictable but thoroughly entertaining and enjoyably odd.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
An extremely talented writer. A book to keep you guessing but does not let you down. Perfect for a day when there is nothing on the agenda, as you will not want to set this one down. Her writing flows smoothand is full of emotion.
brooklynchica More than 1 year ago
If you like plots with twists and turns then this is the story for you!!! absolutely entertaining.
jennalunaVerse More than 1 year ago
This book is a must if you are into mysteries with a ghostly aspect. I jumped right in & enjoyed it right away. I liked the back & forth between time periods, how things got explained & the unexpected ending. I honestly wasn't expecting the twist. Loving this author!
One-Sister More than 1 year ago
Dismantled is Pulp Fiction meets Tell-Tale Heart, a group of young people on a path of destrution that "Dismantles" everything from art to construction to people's lives. Eventually leads to the survivor's undoing, a sort of day of reckoning for all who are involved. Takes the reader on a shair raising journey with a suspenseful ending and a twist that is unforeseeable.
harstan More than 1 year ago
While attending Sexton College in Vermont the four students became best friends; forming the Compassionate Dismantlers. Now graduated, they live together in a remote cabin where they go forth committing bodacious harmful acts that increasingly are out of control. However, when their leader Suz Pierce dies during a stunt, the three survivors dismantle their group. A decade later, two of the members Henry DeForge and Tess Kahle remain married but separated while raising their nine-year-old daughter, Emma. The suicide of a friend from college leaves Henry and Tess fearful that their motto Dismantlement Equals Freedom" will destroy them especially since a private investigator digs into the past. Emma tries to bring her parents back together, but that leads instead to the revival of the Compassionate Dismantlers. DISMANTLED is an intelligent fascinating character-driven thriller that rotates between the present and ten years ago. The cast in both decades are strong though unlikable so that the reader sees what motivated the Compassionate Dismantlers and what drives Henry, Tess and Emma; the melancholy child steals the show with her sad outlook of a bleak future. Filled with eerie but plausible twists and spins, fans of something different will relish this wild roller coaster ride. Harriet Klausner
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Great :)
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This book was a little hard to get into for the first few chapter. After that though I didn't want to put it down. Great ending. Just when you think you know what was going on there was a twist. Good read.
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Anonymous More than 1 year ago
One of the best books I've read. The author keeps you interested throughout the book. I would recommend this book for anyone. Best reads of 2012