Catherine McKenzie has been an auto-read author for me for many, many years. Her latest, Six Weeks to Live, might be her darkest yet with an ending I'm sure you won't see coming.
Here's the book's description:
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.I had a thought that I knew who might be behind Jennifer's poisoning. I was wrong. Technically. (Man, is it hard to review thrillers.) That part of the story was what kept me the most intrigued: Who was behind the poisoning? And was there actually a poisoning? I really wasn't sure what was going to happen in the end!
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 kind of feel like I didn't get a super satisfying ending. I did in one sense because you find out the true motivation and that was satisfying. But there were a lot of things hinted at that I didn't feel like were fully discussed on the page. I was often feeling like I missed some conversation but it just wasn't a conversation that was given to the reader and the links weren't there.
I had a big problem with mental health and this book. Unreliable narrators are all the rage and usually work pretty well for thrillers. But...I really don't like it when they're unreliable and then it turns out there's a medical diagnosis for why they're unreliable. It's like mental health is being used as some sort of plot device. I'd call myself a mental health ally, not having been diagnosed with anything myself, and the storyline in this book surrounding mental health sat pretty wrong with me. I'm not going to say what it was because it's kind of part of the twists but...I really wish it wasn't.
The story is told in alternating perspectives. Jennifer and all three of her daughters - Aline, Emily, and Miranda - each have chapters to tell their side of the story. I thought this was really well done and helped amp up the suspense a little bit more than if it had just been told from one or two perspectives.
Six Weeks to Live won't be my favourite Catherine McKenzie novel but fans of domestic suspense should still find this one to be a good read. It's so incredibly hard not to LOVE a book from a favourite author but not every book can personally be a winner.
*An egalley of this novel was provided by the publisher, Simon & Schuster Canada, via NetGalley in exchange for review consideration. All opinions are honest and my own.*