Every family has its secrets. For the MacAllister family, a 20-year old murder on their campgrounds is the secret that binds them together. Years later, all five MacAllister children, now grown, are called together for the reading of their parents’ will, which contains an interesting clause: to determine whether Ryan should receive his share of the real estate, as their father suspected he was the one who committed the murder. The rest of the family now have the onerous responsibility to vote unanimously in order convict or – acquit – their brother.
Known for thrillers Smoke, Hidden, and The Good Liar Catherine McKenzie has developed a keen grasp on how to keep the suspense running high. I’ll Never Tell begins from Amanda’s perspective, the girl whose murder is what sets events in motion, luring me in as the storyline jumps between the present and past while being told from each MacAllister’s point of view. There’s even a chart to show where all of the MacAllister children were during the eventful night.
It’s interesting to see how secrets can bind a family together, locking them into a place no one wants to be. However, some secrets can’t remain secrets forever and as the story moves between timelines, it starts to unravel the bond between the MacAllisters. Each person reveals more about what they believe happened that evening and the horrible secret they’ve held onto about Amanda’s death. The entire situation could have been cleared up if everyone had just told the truth.
But what is the truth, really? Every one of the MacAllisters believed they knew the “truth”, based on what they saw – or think they saw. Or was this just miscommunication, even laziness, on their parts as every MacAllister assumed their sibling was responsible for the murder. The truth became buried under misinformation, not unlike believing the first thing you read online without investigating or asking further questions.
Though I enjoyed the story, I found myself disinterested in the MacAllisters themselves. The characters were two-dimensional, their relationship didn’t appear authentic or genuine, and they tended to act as if they were still stuck in their teenage years, instead of adults in their 30s. In the end, I finished the book as quickly as possible mainly because I couldn’t bear to read about this family and their personal issues. But here, they were forced to work through those issues, and solve a murder in the meantime, in order to decide the fate of their family campgrounds.
We all know how important it is to communicate in a relationship with a significant other, it should be of the utmost importance to be open and communicative with your family – even when murder is involved. Especially when murder is involved. I’ll Never Tell is a thrilling story with plenty of twists and turns, exploring what effects holding onto a decades-old secret can have on a family over time. It’s a quick and easy read – provided you can get past the whiny voices of the MacAllisters themselves.