I'll Never Tell by Catherine MckenzieI'll Never Tell by Catherine Mckenzie

I'll Never Tell

byCatherine Mckenzie

Paperback | June 4, 2019

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From Catherine McKenzie, the instant bestselling author of The Good Liar, comes a riveting domestic suspense in the vein of Liane Moriarty that sees five siblings forced to confront a tragedy they thought was buried long ago.

What happened to Amanda Holmes?

After the sudden death of their parents, the MacAllister children return to the run-down summer camp where they spent their childhood. The four sisters and their elder brother haven’t all been together at Camp Macaw in over twenty years—ever since a tragic and mysterious accident.

Over the course of the Labour Day weekend, the siblings must determine what to do with the property, now worth millions. But a stunning condition of their father’s will compels them to face their past—and come to a decision that threatens to tear them apart forever.

A sharp and engrossing novel of suspense, I’ll Never Tell reveals what happens when the secrets and lies that hold a family together are finally exposed.
Title:I'll Never TellFormat:PaperbackProduct dimensions:384 pages, 8.38 × 5.5 × 1 inShipping dimensions:8.38 × 5.5 × 1 inPublished:June 4, 2019Publisher:Simon & SchusterLanguage:English

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10:1501178636

ISBN - 13:9781501178634


Rated 3 out of 5 by from Fast read. A year after the unexpected deaths of their parents, the five MacAllister siblings return to Camp Macaw for the reading of the their parent's will. Hoping for closure and a final decision on the future of the summer camp, un unexpected and unusual final request by their father forces them to face a 20 year old tragedy in which one of the siblings was involved in. An unsolved mystery that threatens to unravel the tenuous strands that hold the family together. As a child I always dreamed of going to sleep away camp. It seemed like such a magical, secretive place, so just based on the novel's premise and setting (and the fact that I am a huge Catherine McKenzie fan) I knew I had to read this book. Another well crafted story, a fast read that had me hooked from the very first page. I enjoyed the descriptions of the camp itself and surrounding area (I'm also a Montrealer) and the alternating points of view as well as timelines added to the mystery and suspenseful buildup. Don't know if I would say this was a thriller but definitely a family drama/mystery combination. Not my favourite novel by this author, but nonetheless an enjoyable and entertaining read, perfect to take to the beach or the pool on a hot summer day (or on a 7 hour transatlantic flight as I did). As always, looking forward to reading her next novel. Thank you to NetGalley and Simon & Schuster Canada for providing a digital copy in return for an honest and unbiased review.
Date published: 2019-08-16
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Great read It was a bit slow in the beginning, but once you got into it, there are twists and turns in every chapter. Kept me guessing towards the end and the end was such a surprise. Couldn't put it down.
Date published: 2019-07-18
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Secretive, pacey, and compulsive! I’ll Never Tell is a riveting, intricately woven, character-driven whodunit that takes us to the rugged wilderness of Camp Macaw and into the lives of the MacAllister family where tensions are high, fingers are being pointed, and a twenty-year-old tragedy will finally be solved. The writing is seamless and precise. The characterization is spot on with a cast of characters that are secretive, driven, selfish and flawed. And the plot, told from differing points-of-view, keeps you on the edge of your seat from start to finish as it whips you through well-timed twists, unforeseen surprises, deception, abuse, guilt, jealousy, violence, and murder. Once again, I’ll Never Tell has proven that when it comes to writing exceptionally clever, deftly plotted, fast-paced, domestic thrillers with exquisite character development and deliciously sinister storylines McKenzie is definitely one of the best.
Date published: 2019-07-18
Rated 3 out of 5 by from Not as good as previous books There’s nothing about this story that has grabbed me. I don’t mind the story or the characters but I don’t feel the mystery. I’m not sure I care about any of the characters, even the victim. Thankfully, the story picks up a bit before the halfway point. I still don’t like how the story jumps around different characters and times. I’m glad I stuck with this book because I enjoyed the ending. I liked the red herrings that were thrown out. 3.5 stars. ARC provided by NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.
Date published: 2019-07-13
Rated 4 out of 5 by from Great Thriller For Summer! Summer camp mystery woooot! Bring on the s’mores, canoeing and, of course, tragic accidents. Or was it an accident? Multiple POVs—the siblings, Sean, and Amanda herself—tried to make sense of what happened that fateful summer and McKenzie did a solid job distinguishing distinct personalities. Her pitch-perfect depiction of deep-rooted insecurities and fears along with a tangled web of family secrets meant that while the cast remained contained, the tension never wavered. When their father’s will was revealed, the aggressive implications stoked those flames of distrust and blame which served as a bummer for the MacAllisters and good times for me. I loved the off-season setting of Camp Macaw (caw, caw), and McKenzie nailed those vibes so fiercely, the camp became its own character, and the emotional connection each sibling felt towards the camp, whether positive or negative, influenced their perspective. A prime opportunity for explosive revelations, being stuck between the adults they’d become and the children they were, I was on the edge of my seat. While the tension truly had my stomach in knots, there was unfortunately one element that deflated my agony. The extreme overuse of a particular word became tremendously distracting. I’m disappointed it wasn’t picked up during edits because the word was so prevalent, sometimes appearing multiple times in the same paragraph, it affected my ability to remain immersed in the plot. A major disappointment, to say the least. But with that said, I’LL NEVER TELL is a fabulous book to read during hot and humid summer days, and if you attended summer camp as a kid, I suspect you’ll feel an extra connection.
Date published: 2019-07-05
Rated 4 out of 5 by from Good Thriller (Thanks to Netgalley and the publisher for a copy in exchange for an honest review) This was an intriguing book that I didn’t want to put down. At the same time, I feel like nothing happened. I read this so fast because the characters were compelling, the dialogue kept me engaged and the atmosphere was amazing (it maybe helps that I live close to where the fictional setting is located). However, I was left a bit disappointed by the mystery, I guessed it too soon and I just wanted to see how they were going to handle all that, but the ending was too easy, in my opinion, and a bit underwhelming. I still recommend it if you like thrillers, specially set in nature/camp, because the writing was great and I couldn’t put it down.
Date published: 2019-06-14
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Page Turner! This recent novel of Catherine McKenzie's had me turning the pages right up until the end. I wanted to know the truth, who killed Amanda and how exactly did she die? This novel takes you to Camp Macaw in the present day and 20 years prior. As someone who has been to sleepaway camp (and spent summers at a day camp as well - similar atmosphere without the sleeping part) I was able to relate to the camp scenes, which I enjoyed reading about and reminiscing about my past experiences. The McAllister family who runs the camp, have their 5 children come together at present day to figure out their parents estate and have a decision to make regarding the camp future. No one ever knew what happened to Amanda Holmes who was found dead in a rowboat. The truth about this accident (or murder?) is how the family needs to decide if they keep the camp, sell the camp and if they sell, do all 5 children receive to profits from the sale or does one of them get left out due to their involvement in the death of Amanda? The story is pieced together and it kept me flipping the pages curious as to what happened next. Their secrets come to light and the twists and turns in this story were great. I recommend this novel.
Date published: 2019-06-04
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Surprises Abound The author hit the name of this book right on the head, and it played so well with the plot. You won’t get very comfortable here and you will be guessing right to the end what really happened to Amanda on that Island. I am often able to figure out the end of my reads way ahead, but not this one. Nope! I thought several times I had it all figured out, and maybe you will, but the author really had me fooled with her little dropped clues. If you like a mystery with a lot of drama, this one should satisfy. Be aware surprises abound and you won’t see them coming! I received this book through Net Galley and the Publisher Lake Union, and was not required to give a positive review.
Date published: 2019-06-01
Rated 5 out of 5 by from A great summer read for any mystery lover Catherine McKenzie is starting to become one of my favorite mystery authors. Her books may not have started out this way but she definitely has a talent for writing in this genre.  I'll never tell is a perfect example of this. I thought I had everything figured out, only to keep being proven wrong. This was one of the perfect, on the edge of your seat novels I've read in awhile. I want to be able to go back to before I read it just to be able to get the first time thrill again. I have nothing bad to say about this novel. I loved everything from the characters to the story jumping back and forth from past and present to the suprises. I can't help but love this book and recommend it to others. However, I'll never tell how it ends. I received an advanced copy from the publisher and author through netgalley in exchange for an honest and unbiased review.
Date published: 2019-05-31
Rated 5 out of 5 by from The Perfect Summer Thriller! Canadian author Catherine McKenzie’s “I’ll Never Tell” is perfect Summer Reading! Coming June 1st! When the MacAllister family returns to the family campground for the reading of their parents’ will after their sudden death they have more to decide than just what to do with the family legacy. Twenty years ago a teenaged guest, and regular camper washes ashore with a gash on her head. The crime was never solved. But someone knows what happened to Amanda and before the weekend is up the culprit must be revealed or the family lawyer invokes terms of the will that could tear the family even further apart. The perfect whodunnit with family drama, jealousy, and sibling rivalry. I’ll Never Tell will have you guessing “whodunnit” until the last embers of the campfire flicker out!
Date published: 2019-05-20

Read from the Book

I’ll Never Tell Chapter 1 ROUTINE Sean For Sean Booth, every morning for as long as he could remember began the same way, waking up in a small room crammed into the eaves of the lodge, the cheap blankets he slept under twisted around his ankles, the sound of the breeze rushing in the trees outside his open window. It was 6:45. It was always 6:45. He didn’t have to check the time; he knew it in his bones. Sean rose immediately. He wasn’t a layabout. He had his routine, and he stuck to it. One minute to take the towel off the end of his bed and wrap it around his naked waist. One more till he was in the shower at the end of the hall, first in freezing water, then letting it get so hot it almost scalded him. He believed in three-minute showers, no more, no less; anything else was wasteful. He scrubbed his short hair with a bar of Dove soap, then passed the bar across his chest and into his crevices. At forty-five, he had more of those now than he used to, but everything else was pretty much the same as it always was. He turned off the shower, brushed his teeth, and was back in his room at 6:52. He used the worn towel to rub off the water, then put on his faded cargo pants and a long-sleeved T-shirt. Then, because it was Labor Day weekend, and the morning chill would linger until later in the day, one of his two Camp Macaw sweatshirts. It was 6:58 when his Tretorned feet hit the stairs that brought him down into the lodge’s main room. The smell of scrambled eggs and slightly charred toast greeted him before he hit the last step. He waved to Amy in the kitchen, the only kitchen staff left now that the campers had all gone home. She was still there because of the guests who would be arriving soon. He pushed open the creaking screen-porch door. The sun was bright, but there was still a touch of frost on the grass. It needed mowing, but he was going to have to wait until the day steamed the moisture away before he could climb onto his ride mower and cut it back. He walked to the end of the wooden porch and surveyed the open-air courtyard—the tetherball court, the Craft Shop on the other end, the path to Boat Beach and Swimming Beach. The hundred-year-old pines gave it a closed-in feeling, but that never bothered him. This was the only home he’d ever known, the only home he wanted, and the thought of not having this place, of losing his routine and his room upstairs in the lodge was too much to bear. It was too much to— No. He was getting worked up when nothing had happened yet. Mr. MacAllister had promised he’d be taken care of and, so far, everything Mr. MacAllister had told him had come true. He needed to be patient. Lord knows he knew how to do that. He lifted his arm and took hold of the frayed bell rope. Even though there was no one left to wake, he jerked it anyway, sounding out the start of the day. He rang it eight times, once for each of them and one last time for her. The bong wormed into his head; the hearing in his right ear was diminished from having performed this task thousands of times. But enough of this. He had work to do. The Mackerels were coming.I’ll Never Tell Chapter 2 YOU CAN’T GO HOME AGAIN Margaux When Margaux MacAllister stopped in town at the McDonald’s for a breakfast sandwich she didn’t want and coffee she didn’t need, she knew she was stalling. She could tell herself it was tradition all she wanted to, but something wasn’t a tradition anymore if it had been twenty years since she’d done it, was it? But her car turned in to the drive-through lane almost automatically, and her stomach rumbled because she’d left the city before she usually woke up, let alone ate, so here she was in the parking lot with the smell of grease clogging the air in her car. As she ate the sandwich, Margaux was hit with what she assumed would be the first swell of déjà vu that would soak the weekend. It was one of the reasons she’d told Mark not to come; she didn’t want to have to translate the past for him or let him see the hold it still had over her. She’d learned long ago that he wasn’t someone who could roll with unfamiliar scenarios. Instead, there was a constant litany of “Who was that again?” and “How come you didn’t introduce me?” The thought of it exhausted her, so when he’d offered to come along, she told him no. He was annoyed, and hadn’t even turned over to say goodbye when she’d gotten up this morning, but she’d deal with that when she got back. She had enough on her plate as it was. The view from the McDonald’s parking lot was the same as always. The muddy river, the concrete bridge. The strip of tourist shops along Main Street, the greasy spoon, and the laundromat where they’d go on their days off to wash the damp out of their clothes and fill up on french fries and ice cream. She always thought of the McDonald’s as the gateway to camp because it was where Amanda’s parents would stop to give them their “send-off meal” before dropping them off every summer. From the time she was ten, her parents let her stay with Amanda for a couple of weeks before camp started so she could arrive like the other campers, incognito. They never got to the McDonald’s this early back then, though, so it was burgers and fries they ate, not the Egg McMuffin, hold the egg, she was eating now. And they usually sat at one of the run-down picnic tables on the rough patch of lawn, letting the early summer sun mark their winter skin. But the view was the same, and the smell was the same, and the way the paper that covered her sandwich crinkled in her hand was so familiar it erased the smattering of red leaves on the maples in front of her, making it wholly a summer view. She could’ve been seventeen again, with everything that meant and everything she’d rather forget. She finished her sandwich, crumpled up the paper wrapper, and turned her car back on. The radio station that had kept her company from Montreal was a cut-in of static, so she tuned in to the local French FM station—CIMO, it was called—its position on the dial a muscle memory. They were playing Will Smith’s “Gettin’ Jiggy wit It.” My God. How many times had she and Amanda danced that stupid Will Smith dance their last summer together? Too many to count. Amanda was an amazing physical mimic and danced just like him. They’d even sung it that night on their paddle to the Island, their calls of na na na na na na na echoing and repeating off the water. “Bringing you all the hits,” the announcer said as the song ended. “All the way back from the summer of 1998.” The tires on Margaux’s car kicked up a cloud of dust as she drove down the long dirt driveway to Camp Macaw. Twenty years had passed, but nothing had changed. She was as stuck in the summer of 1998 as the radio station. It unfolded like a slide show of her youth. There on the left was the path in the woods, where she and Amanda had shared their first cigarette and then almost got caught by her sister Mary. Mary would’ve told on them, too, which was why you never told her anything. Now she was driving past the barns where Mary had come diligently every morning at sunup to muck out the stalls and exercise the horses. She spent so much time there that she always smelled faintly like horses. Mary had tried to get Margaux into riding, but Margaux was too afraid. She could fake her way through her lessons so long as they kept to the ground, but when they were about to start jumping, Margaux knew her riding days were over. Mary had her own stable now, not far from here. She wouldn’t arrive until later, after morning workout, but that was fine. Margaux wasn’t ready for the full earnestness of Mary yet. She turned in to the parking lot made up of weedy grass and the old rusted-out red truck her parents had abandoned there she couldn’t remember when. She parked next to the truck and pulled out her phone to check her messages. Shit. She should’ve done that back in Magog when she was at the McDonald’s. She had two texts from Mark but no reception. They had never put in that extra cell tower on the neighboring farm, and so she might as well have been in 1998 as far as technology was concerned. Her parents had opposed the tower; they thought it was better for the campers to have a technology-free zone. Margaux agreed with the philosophy but felt antsy anyway. Mark wouldn’t be happy that she was unreachable for forty-eight hours. She’d better remember to call him from the landline before he freaked out and sent the cops in to check on her. Someone rapped on her windshield. She shrieked and dropped her phone to the floor. “Sean! Goddammit, you scared the living daylights out of me.” He cupped his hand around his right ear, then made a motion for her to roll down her window. She pressed the button. Her window descended neatly into its slot. “Hi, Margaux.” “You shouldn’t creep up on people like that.” “No creeping. I walked right through the parking lot. Didn’t you see me?” “I was checking something on my phone.” She reached down and picked it up, wiping the muck from the floor off the screen. She needed to get her car cleaned out, as Mark often, and annoyingly, reminded her. But there she was, making him sound as if he were her enemy. She didn’t know why she did that. She loved him. “Those don’t work up here,” Sean said. His hands were shoved into the pockets of his cargo pants. His hair was still as red as ever, like a ripe orange, though he wore it close-cropped now. When he was younger, it had been long and curly, and the kids called him Clowney when they thought he wasn’t listening. “I noticed,” Margaux said. He shrugged but stayed where he was. She felt trapped. She wanted to get out of the car, but she didn’t particularly feel like a long, winding conversation with Sean. There wasn’t any helping it, though; he was as much of a fixture as the clay tennis court. Her parents had relied on him to keep the roofs from leaking and the docks from sinking, and if he gave her the willies sometimes, well, that was probably just her thirteen-year-old self remembering how he used to stare at her when he thought she wasn’t looking. “I’m opening the door,” she said. He stepped back. She decided to leave her window down to air her car out. The sun was bright but not yet hot. She breathed in the scent of the pines, the dust, the tang of rusted metal. This was what home smelled like. “Those are some bright shoes,” Sean said. “What? Oh, these. Yeah, they’re ridiculous.” Her feet were encased in the new running shoes she’d bought the day before. She was in the middle of a marathon training sequence, and she needed to break in these shoes before her race in three weeks. She’d waited too long, and when she finally made it to the store, all they had left in her size was a pair of bright pink shoes with orange accents. “I was hoping they’d get covered in mud so I wouldn’t have to look at the color,” she said. “Not much mud this summer.” “I noticed.” He reached into the back seat and took hold of her overnight bag. It was made of battered leather, something she’d inherited from her maternal grandfather years ago. “I got that.” “Nah. You know. Mr. MacAllister would want me to take care of you, like always.” “You can call him Pete. He told you to enough times.” “Doesn’t feel right.” Margaux held her tongue. Sean’s serflike attitude toward her parents was something she’d never understood, but it wasn’t going to change now. She let him carry her bag and lead the way out of the parking lot. “I’m putting you, Kate, and Liddie in the French Teacher’s Cabin, if that’s all right? Unless you wanted to stay in the house . . .” “No, that’s fine.” They walked through a row of tall, fragrant pines to the tennis court. The gray clay was washed out and faded from the lack of rain. Margaux’s slide show started again. Up behind the court was the Staff Cabin, hidden in the woods, where she’d spent too many nights drinking and smoking and talking shit. On its other side lay the Maintenance Cabin, where the teenage boys who worked on the maintenance staff lived, a hotbed of hormones. She’d lost her virginity there to Simon Vauclair the summer she was sixteen. She’d whispered the details to Amanda afterward, breathless and a bit startled by the whole thing. Amanda had nodded knowingly even though Margaux knew for a fact that Amanda was still a virgin because she was saving it for Ryan. Margaux also knew for a fact that saving it for Ryan was a lost cause, because her brother was never going to give Amanda the time of day. Saving it for Ryan. It sounded like the title of a cheesy B movie. But then, the first movie Margaux had gone to see after everything had happened was Saving Private Ryan, and she’d cried and cried. She couldn’t explain why. Maybe Amanda would’ve understood. It was too late to ask her now. “Is that all right?” Sean asked. “The cabin?” “I said it was fine.” “Just checking. Chillax.” “Chillax? Honestly, Sean, are you ever going to grow up?” “What’s that supposed to mean?” They were on the road. Her parents’ house loomed behind her, though she didn’t turn to look at it. It was the last place she’d seen them, before they’d died in the spring. “It’s just . . . camp,” she said. “Why are you still here?” “I’m carrying your bag.” “No, I mean here here. At camp. Living here.” “This is my home.” “But it isn’t.” Sean dropped her bag onto the road, releasing a small cloud of dust. “Why are you being like this? I didn’t do anything to you.” Margaux knew she was in the wrong, acting like a jerk. Already this day was wearing her down. The house, her parents’ empty house, was tugging at her, reaching out and making her into the person she used to be. Her summer self. That girl wasn’t who she wanted to be anymore, but sometimes you don’t get to choose who you are. “I’m sorry, Sean. It’s this place.” “You can’t blame a place for how you behave.” “Can’t you?” He rocked back and forth on his heels. A lifetime of summers in the sun made him look every one of his forty-five years. “Your parents were good to me, you know.” “I admire them for that.” “Only for that?” She finally looked over her shoulder. Their house was a 1950s rancher; it never fit in with the white clapboard lodge and the dark-green cabins that were scattered over the two hundred acres of lakefront property. “Is that what you want?” “What?” “The house? You want to stay here and live in their house?” “I never—” The blare of a car stereo being played much more loudly than it needed to be cut off Sean’s words. They exchanged a glance, but they didn’t need to speak to know. Ryan had arrived.

Editorial Reviews

“McKenzie breaks your heart in this story of two grief-stricken women mourning the same man. Hidden’s complex grace and page-turning sympathy left me satisfied through every the last page.”
— RANDY SUSAN MEYERS, bestselling author of The Murderer's Daughters and The Comfort of Lies