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‘Mags And The AARP Gang’
By Nancy Lynn Jarvis

‘MAGS AND THE AARP GANG’

Mags and her gang of renegade octogenarians have a deadline. They have to rob Bayside Community Bank, the bank about to foreclose on the mobile home park where they live, by a week from Friday so they can pay off the mortgage and save their homes. They’ve cased the joint, planned carefully, assembled their disguises, rehearsed their every move — what could possibly go wrong? Plenty.

Some people think they can take advantage of the elderly. They haven’t met Mags and the AARP gang or they’d know better. Sure, they’re older, but not too old for the adventure of a lifetime or to risk everything for the sake of friendship.

NANCY LYNN JARVIS

Photograph of Cozy Mystery author Nancy Lynn JarvisNancy Lynn Jarvis has been a Santa Cruz, California, Realtor for twenty years.  She owns a real estate company with her husband, Craig.

After earning a BA in behavioral science from San Jose State University, she worked in the advertising department of the San Jose Mercury News.  A move to Santa Cruz meant a new job as a librarian and later, time spent as the business manager of Shakespeare/Santa Cruz.

Nancy’s work history reflects her philosophy: people should try something radically different every few years.  Writing is her newest adventure.

In her first series of four books, she invites you to take a peek into the real estate world through the stories that form the backdrop of her Regan McHenry mysteries.  Details and ideas come from Nancy’s own experiences and she is always amused when readers comment how unlikely some of the crimes seem, as after the publication of each novel, she has come across news reports of crimes similar to the ones in her books, debunking any possibility that they are unrealistic, even if the circumstances have been rearranged a little.

Also, if you are one of Nancy’s clients or colleagues, read carefully. You may find characters in her books who seem familiar.  You may know the people who inspired them. You may even see yourself in print, as many of her fictional characters, are in fact based on people she has known, but creatively enhanced.

For this book, Nancy has put the realtor crime scene on hold, whilst she ventures a little deeper into the realms of the ‘cozy mystery’, with ‘Mags and the AARP Gang’.

WORDS FROM THE BOOK

I’m getting near the end of my allotted stretch here and it’s high time I do something that will make people whisper about me behind my back. If that something is meaningful, something of service to my fellows, something that brings about some justice in the world, that’s all the better.

I may be trapped in an eighty-three-year old body, but in my heart I’m still the same Mags my father thought I might become, the same Mags my husband knew I was.

You have taken away my hope, Jeffery, and what you will learn is that people with no hope are either quitters or dangerous. I have never been a quitter, and I’m not about to become one at my age.

They pretend to be old, all right, but anyone could tell they weren’t. Obviously, genuinely old people would never do anything like this, anything like rob a bank, at least not so ably.

MY THOUGHTS ABOUT THE BOOK

“Think of Mags as the name of a girl whose life will be full of freedom and possibilities”

Author, Nancy Lynn Jarvis, may have put on hold her more usual storyline of realtor crime scenes, however this book has a more than passing interest in the real estate market, although in a way which I would never have dreamed up as a scenario and one which left me filled with a myriad emotions, long after I had finished reading.

Age can be quite a difficult issue to deal with and certainly to write about, however I felt that Nancy has handled this delicate issue remarkably well, striking just the right balance between sympathy and sensitivity, countered with proportionate amounts of humour and frustration, whilst at all times retaining the dignity and respect desired and deserved, for the characters involved.

Before I even turned the first page, I was beset with visions of this group of octogenarian citizens sat around the kitchen table, planning a bank job, even more amazingly, actually going through with it! I tried to envisage my own father and my in-laws, who all fall well within the prescribed age group, having the audacity, or even the will to devise such a plan! My initial reaction was to chuckle aloud at the prospect, however I then realised that this would never truly happen, because of the strong respect and almost fear this current demographic of society has, for what they perceive to be the systems of authority. Perhaps Mags and her co-conspirators are a sign of the changing face of modern society!

That Mags and her fellow conspirators felt their plight to be so perilous and their need for action so desperate, that they even considered this drastic course of events, only served to reinforce my own opinions of the often cruel and callous nature of our behaviour towards vulnerable groups of people in todays ‘modern’ society. I found myself surprised at the conflicting emotions and thought provoking moments which manifested themselves, as the initially rather vague plan, under Mags’s meticulous and often autocratic mangement took on a life of its own, despite rather than in spite of, the obvious physical and emotional fragility and vulnerability of this once haven of a retirement community.

Mags only becomes leader of this elderly group of would be desperados, after Henry, who conceived and organised the plan, sadly passed away before he could see it put into action. She is, although very opinionated, determined and strong-willed, completely distraught by Henry’s sudden and unexpected death and I could sense her almost visibly having to regroup and gather all her strength, to carry on with a plan, which at the very least appeared almost comical and at worst, most foolhardy.

That the plan, as frought with difficulties as it so obviously is, even takes place, let alone succeeds, is a cause for amazement and celebration. However, when the stress and trauma of the situation suddenly dawns on the group, the cracks begin to show and it takes all of Mags last reserves of stamina and stoicism, to hold them together and make one last stand for what she believes is right for herself and her fellow conspirators after all they have been through, whilst still ensuring that their inherent generational sense of ‘rightness’, is maintained and upheld.

When Mags herself is physically threatened by outsiders, hoping to cash in on her success, she finally finds her moment to shine, as only she knows she could and truly fulfil the potential her father saw in her, way back at the time of her birth. Fear gives way to indignation, physical weakness is overwhelmed by inner strength and the primal urge for revenge at the invasion of her privacy is tempered with the understanding and ‘tough love’ which only comes with the passing years and gathered experiences.

The group find additional support from two unlikely sources, one of whom is desperate to see the retirement park kept open and the residents left alone to live out their lives in a secure and peaceful way, the other who can secure enough public influence to ensure that the facts of the situation are broadcast loud and clear, even though they may only be doing so, partially for their own fame and glory.

See through the ‘cozy’ and slightly tongue in cheek aspects of this unconventional and unique storyline, to uncover a sympathetic and sensitive sub story, where joy and uplifting hope ultimately win out over pain, greed and sorrow, with the heart and spirit being left lifted by a community’s sense of shame and ‘rightness’ …. A touching and poignant story.

As this book was a review request, a complimentary Kindle edition of ‘Mags And The AARP Gang’ was sent to me by its author, Nancy Lynn Jarvis.

This in no way influenced any comments I may have expressed about the book, in any blog article I have posted. Any thoughts or comments are my own personal opinion and I am in no way being monetarily compensated for this, or any other article.

I personally do not agree with ‘rating’ a book, as the overall experience is all a matter of personal taste, which varies from reader to reader. However some review sites do demand a rating value, so when this review is posted to such a site, it will attract a 4 out of 5.

 

Written by
Yvonne

I can’t remember a time, even as a child, when I haven’t been passionate about books and reading.
I began blogging, when I realised just how many other people out there shared my passion for the written word and I have been continually amazed at the wealth of books that are available and the amount of great new friends I have made, from literally 'The Four Corners Of The World'.

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12 comments
  • Excellent review, Yvonne. It sounds like a fun, but interesting storyline and maybe a notch above the standard cozy read. I’ll certainly keep it in mind.

    • Hi Kelly,

      Knowing just how to pitch the review for ‘Mags’, was actually quite difficult, as I am not sure exactly whether the author Nancy Lynn Jarvis, wrote this simply as a straightforward cozy, fun mystery; or with the intention of the reader seeing the all too real injustices behind the story’s seemingly humourous facade.

      Either way, it was certainly a unique and interesting storyline and I would love to know how Nancy came up with the idea for this original premise.

      Thanks for your kind words and I appreciate your continued support, it means a lot.

      Have a great weekend.

    • Hi Vicki,

      I definitely enjoyed this heartwarming story and am so pleased that I accepted the book for review, despite the early concerns about the cover art, which Nancy was quick to move on and get changed.

      ‘Mags …’, is still available for $3.41 on Amazon Kindle, which for us here in the UK would be a steal! Perhaps if you add it to your TBR list, you may come across a copy someday … if you do, grab it with both hands, you won’t be disappointed!!

      Have a great weekend.

  • Hi Yvonne,
    Thank you so much for the review. I’m delighted that you enjoyed Mags. I enjoyed her company as well. I don’t consider the book a cozy because, while it has some mystery roots, it isn’t a mystery in the normal sense of the genre. Writing Mags was a completely different experience for me. too. With mysteries I have a timeline and something of an outline so I know who knew what when. Mags was more like taking dictation from this interesting woman who turned up in my office every day.

    • Hi Nancy,

      I can imagine Mags acting like one of your more bossy clients, wanting everything done her way, in her timescale and with a guaranteed outcome! On the other hand, I believe that she does have a more caring and considerate side to her, although it doesn’t get to say or do much very often!

      Thanks for taking the time to check out the review and for stopping by to comment. I always appreciate it when an author proactively supports any book promotion posts, or reviews I have published.

      Have a great weekend and Good Luck with any future writing projects.

    • Hi Stephanie,

      Mags is certainly one gutsy lady, although there is still just a hint of vulnerability in her character, which she seeks to keep well hidden. Her few true friends however, can see through all her bluff and bluster and the robbery and its aftermath only helps to draw them closer together.

      A great read, unlike anything I have tried before.

      Thanks for stopping by and I hope that you enjoy your weekend.

  • Interesting plot line with the group of octogenarians planning a bank job. I think I’d laugh at this as well, but if the author made it believable, well why not! Mag sounds like a force to be reckoned with.
    Great review as usual my friend.

    • Hi Naida,

      This book certainly has a unique storyline and whilst perhaps the author had written it with a slightly humorous take on things, I have perhaps read a bit too much into it in the way of social commentary highlighting the real problems which exist for certain communities and demographics of society, across much of the Western World.

      Perhaps a bank robbery isn’t the best way to get your problems noticed by the wider community, however if more communities had a ‘Mags’, a true force to be reckoned with, willing to speak out and take action, then that might bring about the start of change!

      Thanks for your kind words, I really appreciate them.

  • Wow!! What a powerful review.
    Even tho it’s long, it’s worth the reading.
    This sounds like a book I would be interested in.

    Thank you for visiting, and commenting, on my blog today.

    • Hi Michelle,

      Thanks for those kind words of encouragement, I really appreciate them.

      I am afriad that my reviews do tend to end up rather on the lengthy side, and that is a trait which has followed me around since primary school days, when my compositions and stories were always longer and often more rambling than everyone else’s.

      English was always my favourite subject and the one which I was particularly good at, although the amount of superfluous words I could introduce into a piece of writing, has always been commented on, by both teachers and examiners alike … Still, I always passed, which is the main thing … right?

      I have often thought about training as a proof reader, which is something I know I would enjoy, however to date I haven’t really investigated it in any great detail.

      ‘Mags …’ is a book that not many readers could fail to enjoy, especially the excellent portrayal of Mags herself, her character really seems to leap off the page at you!

      I seem to remember a feature film about a group of elderly citizens living in an apartment block which was due for demolition and the lengths they went to, to try and get the decision overturned, but for the life of me I can’t remember what it was called.

      Happy 4th of July. I hope that you are doing something good with your holiday and that the weather is kind to you.

Written by Yvonne

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