Series sleuth Kate Jasper (Tea-Totally Dead, Berkley, 1994) attends a traditional 25th high school reunion, then witnesses the murder of the obnoxious class jokester at a social for her particular clique. Kate's hunky, live-in lover wants her to stay out of the caseparticularly because the murderer has to be one of her friendsbut she feels compelled to solve the crime. Smooth prose, moderately involving characters, and a unique barb to the hook recommend this for collections.
A hardcover debut for California's Kate Jasper, owner of Jest Gifts, a mail-order company for pranksters. Here, in her seventh outing, Kate's been invitedalong with live-in lover Wayne, a conversationally-challenged chefto a barbecue reunion of several graduates of Gravendale High School, class of '68. The host, at his condo apartment, is class clown Sid Semling, now working in sales at the computer company of classmate Natalie Nusser. Sid hasn't changed his vulgar waysjust expanded his practical joke repertoireand so his guests aren't too surprised when rude jokes issue from the pinball machine he's borrowed from Kate. But everyone's in shock when Sid is electrocuted by the machine minutes later. Kate, ever the busybody, and over Wayne's objections, proceeds to poke about in the lives of all the guests: Lillian Kanick, a talented sculptor who runs an auto-repair shop, who gets much support from her serene mother-in-law Aurora, little from mildly schizophrenic husband Jack; shy Charlie Hirschgardener, handyman, author of children's books, and mad for librarian Pam Dauber; gay veterinarian Mark Myers; Elaine Timmons, a cousin of Sid's, married to Ed and mother of three; and near-alcoholic Becky Vogel, a lawyer and single mother of teenager D.V. All have unhappy memories of high school and Sid's often cruel jokes, but it takes another murder and a dangerous confrontation before Kate's nosiness pays off.
Lots of inane chatter, aimless to- and fro-ing, mundane characters, and a hard-working but uncharismatic heroine: in all, readable but a good deal less compelling.