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Reviewed by Jon Michael Miller for Readers' Favorite
Reunion of the Good Weather Suicide Cult by Kyle McCord is a startlingly realistic novel about an Iowan cult that ended in a mass suicide. The narrative’s protagonist is Tom Duncan, the lone survivor. A Netflix documentary accuses Tom of being the mastermind of the gruesome event in which members cut each other's throats with razor-sharp bean hooks. The story is presented partly through a later discredited Netflix presentation, Tom’s reflections, and the reunion of four members of the cult, three of whom were not present when the mass killings took place. Also, Tom’s wife Alle makes several appearances as a ghost. The chaotic, redemptive reunion takes place at a Holiday Inn close to the cult’s compound where the foursome works out the shared views, and communal experiences of their lives in Good Weather before all but these few took the plunge to Shamayim, supposedly a Jewish term for heaven. We become involved in Tom's relationship with his family and the three other survivors, and we learn the background of the cult’s egomaniacal leader, a midwestern misfit called Rain.
I began reading this intriguing piece thinking it was about an actual cult suicide documented by Netflix. After a while, I checked Netflix’s titles and did not find this one. I even Googled the cult. Then I realized that Kyle McCord’s skill at imitating reality, not only by replays of the fictional documentary but by the detailed descriptions of Iowan locations and terrain, had misled me into thinking the piece was non-fiction. I was puzzled by Mr. McCord’s purpose in the work, then decided it must be, at its base, to present the difficulties in dealing with intense trauma and disillusionment, even though amid their challenges in dealing with the gruesome deaths, the four remaining cult members still cling to the original tenets of the group. Reunion of the Good Weather Suicide Cult by Kyle McCord is a brilliantly written, complex, ambiguous novel around a ghastly event so convincingly created you will think it is accurate.