Book Review: The Tuesday Night Survivors’ Club by Lynn Cahoon

In Lynn Cahoon's The Tuesday Night Survivors' Club, new-age Sedona, Arizona seemed like the perfect place to open up a bookstore devoted to healing. But when a member of a local cancer survivor support book club goes missing, will this group’s sleuthing skills be enough to find her? Don't miss Janet Webb's review!

After recovering from breast cancer but still reeling from her longtime boyfriend’s defection, Rarity Cole pulls up stakes and moves from St. Louis to Sedona, Arizona. She embraces “her second shot at life” by opening The Next Chapter bookstore, nestled between “a fortune teller’s shop and a place that sells crystals.” Books, chocolate, ice cream, and friendship are as integral to Rarity’s fight against cancer as medicine and good doctors. Her bookstore is focused 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.” Still, it’s a risky decision.

Maybe opening a brick-and-mortar store in a digital age hadn’t been the smartest idea with the book world changing in front of her eyes.

It didn’t matter, though. This was her dream, and she wasn’t going to waste any time worrying about opening at the right time. Action was rewarded. Worrying never did anyone any favors.

Rarity’s best friend from high school, Sam Aarons, owns the crystal shop next to her bookstore. While Rarity values her friendship with Sam, she knows that, to thrive in her new home, she’ll need some supportive new relationships. Enter the Tuesday Night Survivors book club where all the participants have cancer in their past. The notion of a shared journey is a natural for Sedona, famed for its embrace of new-age communities. People gather “because of shared experiences. Like her new book club,” thinks Rarity.

The club gets off to a slow start when only one older woman shows up. Fortunately the second meeting is better attended. Rarity is cautiously pleased until she receives unsettling news—Martha Redding, one of the members—has disappeared. Worryingly, she left their last meeting in a huff. Martha’s peculiar leave-taking causes Rarity to ponder the difficulties of being a survivor; there are so many life lessons to learn: “One would be trying to learn to live while dying, the other trying to stop dying when she was living.” Rarity’s exercise lap pool under the starry sky is the perfect spot for such musings.

Life was hard. Rarity closed her eyes as she let her body relax into the water and the night. Living after having believed you were dying was even harder.

That is to say, the members of the survivors’ club have a healthy respect for life. Armed with determination and smarts, they band together as Tuesday Night Sleuths and take on the matter of Martha’s disappearance. The police had found Martha’s car abandoned on a trail head and later discover she left her little doggie with a friend, but that’s the end of the trail. Rarity fears the worst.  

The group attacks the problem of Martha’s disappearance from many angles. Who did she know? Who was in her address book? Which doctors did she patronize? When the police find Martha’s dead body, the club’s members are stymied.

“Yeah, Sam and I were talking about that problem. So we have information, but no context.” Rarity paused at her street. “I guess we just keep asking questions and seeing if we can find a way to answer them.”

Holly nodded. “You know this investigation stuff looks so much easier on television. They find the killer with the clue that the murder victim left in the sand next to their body. We didn’t even get to see the body.”

“I’m kind of thankful for that.” Rarity waved as they parted ways.

Holly’s comments about television investigations sound like she’s breaking the fourth wall and addressing readers directly, and there is a thread of bemusement surrounding the first of a new cozy series. Bookseller Rarity stands in for author Lynn Cahoon. I chuckled at Cahoon’s aside about the expectations surrounding cozies. Check out lap-swimmer-slash investigator Rarity’s riposte to her friend Sam.

“I just need to burn off some of this energy. I can’t believe we still don’t know who killed Martha. According to all those books, finding a killer is really easy. And they even have time to develop recipes to put in the back.”

How apropos. And don’t despair readers, there is a delicious recipe at the back of Tuesday Night Survivors’ Club. What a terrific start to a new series—the heroine, her friends and fellow-sleuths, and the fabulous Sedona setting (home to famous spiritual vortexes), not to mention a tantalizing love interest. Bring on the next mystery!

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