A gripping psychological suspense novel about a woman diagnosed with cancer who sets out to discover if someone poisoned her before her time is up
Jennifer Barnes never expected the shocking news she received at a routine doctor’s appointment: she has a terminal brain tumor—and only six weeks left to live.
While stunned by the diagnosis, the forty-eight-year-old mother decides to spend what little time she has left with her family—her adult triplets and twin grandsons—close by her side. But when she realizes she was possibly poisoned a year earlier, she’s determined to discover who might have tried to get rid of her before she’s gone for good.
Separated from her husband and with a contentious divorce in progress, Jennifer focuses her suspicions on her soon-to-be ex. Meanwhile, her daughters are each processing the news differently. Calm medical student Emily is there for whatever Jennifer needs. Moody scientist Aline, who keeps her mother at arm’s length, nonetheless agrees to help with the investigation. Even imprudent Miranda, who has recently had to move back home, is being unusually solicitous.
But with her daughters doubting her campaign against their father, Jennifer can’t help but wonder if the poisoning is all in her head—or if there’s someone else who wanted her dead.
I initially thought this was my first book by Catherine McKenzie, but looking at her list of books, there are several that I might have read but don’t really remember. And that’s going to end up being the case with this book. The premise was interesting – Jennifer has just been diagnosed with a glioblastoma, and her doctor has given her the titular six weeks to live. She learns that there’s a chance she was poisoned a year ago, which could have led to her cancer, and before she dies she wants to find out who could have done this to her.
Despite the interesting premise, the book ultimately fell flat for me. I couldn’t get behind any of the characters, not because they’re ‘unlikeable’, as they’ve been called, but because they were one-dimensional and their decisions didn’t make any sense. Their relationships to each other didn’t make any sense to me, either, particularly Jennifer’s daughters’ relationships with their dad, and I could never keep the daughters straight. They’re triplets, sort of, and they all just sort of blended together for most of the book. By the end of the book, I think I had them straight, but I should have been able to tell them apart earlier than that.
I don’t have any experience with glioblastoma specifically, but I do have some experience with cancer, and the way hers was handled seemed way off base. She’s diagnosed by her doctor, her primary care doctor, not an oncologist, neurologist, specialist, etc, and basically told “You have brain cancer. You’ll die in six weeks. Nothing we can do. Here are some strong pain pills for the headaches and PDF of some end-of-life options.” That’s it. That’s the entire treatment. We never even see her meet with any other doctor.
I wanted to like this, and there’s a good story buried in here, but it just missed the mark for me.