PLOT: 3.5/5 WRITING STYLE: 4/5 CHARACTERS: 4.5/5 CLIMAX: 4/5 ENTERTAINMENT: 4/5
2020 proved to be a good year when it came to reading psychological cum domestic thrillers. The Last Mrs. Parrish by Live Constantine, The Wife Between Us and You Are Not Alone by Greer Hendricks, and Behind Closed Doors by B.A. Paris are some amazing reads that I had the chance to enjoy last year.
However, it was only in May that I read my first domestic thriller of the year 2021. Thankfully, it turned out to be a memorable read. Read on to know more about my thoughts on Catherine McKenzie’s Six Weeks to Live.
What to expect?
Expect a psychological cum domestic thriller. Expect a book that is also a family drama. Expect a book that takes its own sweet time to grow on the reader but once it does, there is no going back. Expect a book that is a good entertainer. Finally, expect a book with many interesting and well-developed characters.
Who can read?
The book is written in a simple language that aptly reflects the emotional chords and the family dynamics between its characters. A major part of the storytelling happens by the way of conversations. It is because of these reasons that the book can be easily enjoyed by any type of reader including beginners.
Let’s talk about the storyline
Jennifer Barnes is a forty-eight-year-old mother of three who decides to go for a health checkup, because of her recent bouts of lasting headaches and fatigue.
She thinks it’s her age but a doctor’s opinion is never a bad idea, right?
Imagine her horror when she discovers that she has glioblastoma multiforme, an aggressive type of brain cancer that gives her only six weeks to live. The cancer is much advanced, and there is no way to save Jennifer now.
Shocked and disheartened, Jennifer decides to spend her last weeks with her close family. This includes her triplets (a combination of two identical twins Aline and Miranda, and one fraternal twin Emily), and also her twin grandsons.
But when she puts two and two together, she realizes that this cancer was given to her. There was an unusually high amount of lead found in her blood. If her hunch is right, then it is her husband who is to be blamed for her condition.
The only thing that prevents her from taking further action – her daughters are nowhere near being convinced of their father’s guilt. And their determination seems to run off on Jennifer as well. She can’t help but doubt her hunches.
So, what will she do now?
Is lead poisoning a mere fiction created by her overactive imagination?
Is this all in her head?
Or, is there someone else who wants her dead?
With only six weeks to live, Jennifer can already feel time slipping out of her hands.
How good are the characters?
The characters are the best thing about the book. Every single one of them has a distinct personality. The triplets’ relationship dynamics are something worth reading and pondering over. I love how each of the characters has their struggles, agendas, grievances with Jennifer, secrets, and even possible motives.
This weird equation between the triplets is a thing of wonder and very interesting to read. Two of the girls are identical twins and are in team Dad. With their dark hair and dark coloring, resembling him in their looks and actions. While the other triplet is a fraternal twin with blonde hair and blue eyes, resembling her mother in all likeliness, and therefore a part of team Mom.
Even grandmother Bea is a character with her own set of quirks and eccentricities, someone who adds a lot of flavor to the overall mix.
What did I like?
Apart from the gripping sibling dynamics that I’ve already written about, the multi-layered mystery and its link with the past is what I liked the most. The mystery runs much deeper than what appears on the surface. It has a connection to their collective troubled past, dating back not just one but two generations.
What could have been better?
There comes a point when the book loses its pace. The book slows down somewhere in the middle, where there are no new twists to keep the story going forward.
The reader starts losing interest after one too many similar family gatherings, sister dates, friendly and also some not-so-friendly meetings.
At this point, the drama takes precedence, and there lies my qualm with the book. Introducing some more twists and cutting short those monotonous family meetings would have done wonders for the pace of the book.
What I didn’t like?
The part that I didn’t like was how this book pretends to be a high-octane action-adventure rather than a mystery-laden family drama. The blurb and the cover lend it a different vibe, something that it surely isn’t.
Is the climax good?
The climax didn’t spell itself out for me right until the very end. Since most of the characters were tainted with their own share of secrets and motives, the culprit could have been anyone. The climax gave the book a befitting end.
In the end
In the end, Six Weeks to Live is a tantalizing tale of drama and mystery that involves complex family dynamics. Weaving together stories of different family members connected via a traumatic past, it is unforgiving and brutal in its deliverance of justice.
The final verdict
Go for it!
Pick the book if
- You are looking for a good entertainer.
- You love family dramas with elements of thrill and mystery.
- You love reading domestic and psychological thrillers (but with a generous dose of drama).
- You enjoy books that have intense and interesting sibling dynamics.
- The idea of a woman who has only six weeks to live setting out on a quest to find her killer appeals to you.
Skip the book if
- You are looking for a five-star entertainer.
- If you are looking for more thrill and mystery than drama.
Can’t wait to read it? Buy your copy of Six Weeks to Live by Catherine McKenzie using the link below.