The Tuesday Night Survivors’ Club
Survivors’ Book Club Mystery #1
By Lynn Cahoon
Author Website: lynncahoon(.)com
Brought to you by OBS Reviewer Jeanie
Survivors become sleuths to find a missing member of their book club in new-age Sedona, Arizona . . .
Two things got Rarity Cole through her breast cancer treatments: friends and books. Now cancer-free, Rarity is devoting her life to helping others find their way through the maze to healing. She’s opened a bookstore focusing on the power of healing—Eastern medicine, Western medicine, the healing power of food, the power of meditation, and the importance of developing a support community. To that end, she’s also started the Tuesday Night Survivors book club. With its openness to new-age communities, Sedona, Arizona, is the perfect fit for Rarity’s bookstore and the tightly knit group.
But their therapeutic unity is disrupted when one of their members suddenly goes missing. Martha has always kept to herself, never opening up much of her personal life to the group. Now she’s nowhere to be found. With her car abandoned on a trail and her dog left with a friend, Rarity is sure something terrible has happened—but will she be able to uncover Martha’s secrets before it’s too late? (Goodreads)
This is a fascinating first in a unique new cozy mystery series. It is almost a crossover between women’s fiction and cozy mystery, with a profound message for those who have had cancer, those who have not, and those whose loved ones have cancer. There is humor, but never at the expense of those who have endured the disease or the treatments, nor does it laud any one specific treatment.
Rarity’s best friend since college, Sam, supported her as much as possible from about 1,400 miles away. When Rarity’s boyfriend long gone and her cancer hopefully even further in her rearview mirror, she was ready for a change. She left her career and cashed in what she could to move to Sedona, Arizona. Sam designs and sells jewelry from her crystal shop. Rarity opened a bookstore, The Next Chapter, carrying something for every reader, including those seeking information on cancer treatments.
Rarity wanted to help others and advertised for cancer survivors who have completed their treatment and want to join a book club. When she was in treatment, she read a lot, as do many in treatment. She understood the feelings of those having fought cancer and are learning to navigate life with challenges other people may discount.
Martha, who came to the second meeting, didn’t want to talk about herself. She enjoyed reading and was there for the book club aspect. When she didn’t come the following week, Rarity was concerned, but assumed that since she didn’t want to swap phone numbers, she probably didn’t complete the form with basic member information. Sam knew Sedona well, and suggested she call a phone number where people could request a wellness check by the local police force.
The detective, Drew, contacted Rarity and said that Martha had gone missing. It was discovered when her neighbors called the police a couple days earlier as she had not been home and her dog wouldn’t stop barking. Rarity was considering getting a dog, and the police would have to take Martha’s dog to a shelter in Flagstaff unless Martha or a family member came forward, so Rarity offered to care for Killer until Martha returned.
The members of the book club wanted help find Martha. Martha was not friendly and didn’t want any involvement other than reading and discussing books, but she was part of their group. Within a short time, Martha’s vehicle had been located at a hiking trailhead. When the police found her remains, she had clearly been murdered. Most of the women in the club wanted to help solve her murder and took on assignments.
I appreciate the components included for those with cancer or cancer survivors, including nutrition, physical activity, and a lower stress lifestyle. I learned some overall things about the person with cancer that I wish I had known when loved ones had various types of cancer. I didn’t realize there were so many cancer treatment scams and how each patient needs be proactive in learning about their providers and treatments, especially if something sounds too good to be true.
The characters are defined according to their roles. I don’t feel I got to know anyone well, but I did learn just enough to want to know more, especially about Rarity. A glimpse of their family backgrounds might have given a fuller picture. We have only a few pieces about when Rarity and Sam roomed together at college, Rarity’s ex-boyfriend, and Martha’s history with another character. I loved that Rarity bonded so quickly with Martha’s dog and that she gave Killer a home after learning Martha died.
I like that the murder took longer to solve than in many novels or cop shows without taking away the feeling of urgency. Plot twists brought a few red herrings and revealed motives when I had an idea who the bad guy was, but not the why.
Overall, I highly recommend this solid start to a wonderful new series! This is the kind of novel I would love to see on the bookshelves of oncology and treatment office waiting rooms! I look forward to how Rarity and the Tuesday Night Survivor’s Club plus Sam will continue to bond over their love of reading, friendship, and mutual joys and fears related to cancer. And if they help solve a murder or two along the way, so much the better for us who love mysteries and folks who have, or had, cancer.