Mysterious, Feb 2001, 23.95, 290 pp.
Though years have passed since the tragedy and Odile Annesley, now eighty, remains in exile in Provence, refusing to have anything to do with family members. However, the octogenarian sends her will to her family. This, in turn, prompts a response from Odile's five adult grandchildren, who want reconciliation before grandmere dies. The quintet agrees to visit grandmere together without asking or warning the former Annesley matriarch.
However, before journeying to Provence, the five sisters first become reacquainted with one another. After a brief period, they arrive at the forlorn remote farm house that grandmere has made home for about four decades since she fled her beloved spouse and children. However, reconciliation proves deadly as history repeats itself and someone wants to eliminate the Annesley heirs.
FAMILY REUNION is an exciting suspense thriller that takes off in the second half of the novel. Much of the first half of the story line is dedicated to introducing the five siblings. This proves a bit slow, leaving the audience to wonder if the book is a character study. However, the device ultimately pays dividends when the group reaches Provence where the action begins (second half of the novel). With a little patience, readers, especially fans of Carol Smith (see THE NEIGHBORS), will enjoy this novel, but must give it a chance as character development takes up a sizable portion of the plot.
This report prepared by Harriet Klausner