Edith/Maddie here, writing from a springy early May north of Boston, where the lilac bloomed for Mother’s Day on schedule – and I had both my sons and their sweethearts here with me!
I’m excited to welcome back my dear friend, Annette Dashofy. We got to see each other in, gasp, person at the Malice Domestic convention a couple of weeks ago, which was delightful.
Also exciting is her next Zoe Chambers mystery – out today! Happy book birthday, Annette.
Here’s the blurb for Fatal Reunion.
As Monongahela County’s new coroner Zoe Chambers-Adams gears up for a third day searching for a missing woman, she receives the news she’s been dreading: a body has been found. What she discovers at the scene leaves no doubt—the missing woman was violently murdered. Worse, the manner of death mirrors the Monongahela Strangler case that terrorized the county when Zoe was in high school. Those murders stopped, but the case was never satisfactorily solved. And with people arriving in town for Zoe’s twentieth high school reunion, the memories of those scary days return with a vengeance.
But Zoe’s new husband, Vance Township Police Chief Pete Adams, sees the murder differently. His investigation reveals two feuding families and a forbidden relationship between their children. The homicide appears to be a crime of passion, until Pete’s relentless digging unearths a link between his prime suspect and Zoe’s serial-killer. Suddenly, with the predator threatening to strike someone near and dear to both Zoe and Pete, they must race to uncover the truth and catch a madman before another innocent victim is brutally murdered.
I managed to survive forty years without attending one of my high school reunions. I simply had no desire to return to that world. I wasn’t exactly popular back then. I was the nerd. The geeky kid. The bookworm. Yes, I had that last title thrown at me numerous times by classmates who meant it as an insult. I took it as a badge of honor. I was skinny and had a mouthful of silver braces. Those who didn’t call me a bookworm called me Tin Grin. I was less fond of that moniker.
Five years ago, I caved and agreed to attend my 40th reunion. Yes, I’m giving away my age.
For the most part, I hung out with one of my best friends from back then, a woman who I have kept in touch with over the years. I had a hard time recognizing many others.
Here’s a hint for the reunion committee’s suggestion box: Use large font and class photos on the name badges. At our age, we can’t see that tiny print. And getting up close to squint at a tag pinned to someone’s chest is…well…awkward.
I took two things away from that evening. First, I’m not going to another class reunion. And second, what a great setting for a murder mystery!
In Fatal Reunion, Zoe Chambers-Adams has an upcoming 20th reunion and is determined she’s not attending. Her reasons are polar opposite from mine. I was the unpopular nerd. Zoe was maybe too popular and cringes at memories of who she was and what all she’d done. Rose, Zoe’s wild-child friend from back in the day, returns to town for the reunion and pressures Zoe to go, if not to the reunion, then at least to the pre-party picnic.
“There’s the pre-reunion picnic tomorrow evening. You could at least go to that.” Rose leaned forward, eagerly gaining momentum. “Everyone will be more casual and relaxed at the picnic. They might be more open to letting information slip.”
Zoe gazed out the window to the rolling pastures stretching behind the house. Whether an informal picnic or a dressy affair, spending time with the people she’d gone to high school with lacked appeal. They knew her from back then. The person she’d been. The one she wasn’t proud of and would prefer to forget. Wild child Zoe Chambers, looking for love in all the wrong places. Saying yes when she should’ve said no. But she hadn’t been alone.
She faced Rose, all too aware of Allison’s presence to be too blatant with her question. “Why are you so hellbent on going? The same people who remember who I was will remember who you were too.”
Rose hiked an eyebrow. “Let ’em. They can remember who I was while they see who I’ve become.”
There was some of Rose’s thinking in my decision to show up at that 40th reunion. The “high point” of the evening, though, came when a woman looked me up and down and said, “Annette! You look so nice! I didn’t recognize you!”
In Fatal Reunion, being a mystery novel, there’s a murder. And, of course, there’s a potential tie-in with the reunion. A present-day homicide shares much in common with a series of brutal murders from twenty years ago, when Zoe and Rose were seniors. Coincidence? Maybe. Maybe not.
Wickeds and readers: have you attended any of your high school reunions? Do you love them or hate them? (My forty-fifth is coming up, but “conveniently” I have a prior commitment. Really.)
Annette Dashofy is the USA Today best-selling author of twelve novels including the Zoe Chambers mystery series about a paramedic turned county coroner in rural Pennsylvania’s tight-knit Vance Township. The eleventh book in the series, Fatal Reunion, comes out this May from Level Best Books. Annette and her husband live on ten acres of what was her grandfather’s dairy farm in Washington County, PA, with their very spoiled cat, Kensi.
Happy Book Birthday Annette!
Thank you, Dru!
Thanks for having me! It was great seeing you in (gasp) person too!
Love having you! For the reason Rose mentioned, I actually really wanted to attend my fiftieth which was postponed a year from 2020 for obvious reasons. But even fall of 2021 felt too COVID-risky to fly to California, stay in a hotel, and hang out with some of my classmates who admitted to not being vaccinated.
Edith, I’m sorry you had to miss your reunion, but your reasons for wanting to go and for NOT going are both very good.
ANNETTE: Happy book birthday! I am so happy to read another Zoe & Pete book!!
Nope, I have never attended a high school reunion. In fact, I have never received an invitation or seen any news about one, so they have been easy to avoid.
Thank you, Grace.
Happy Book Birthday Annette!
I have never gone to a high school reunion. There haven’t been many but I refuse to go to them. Anyone from high school that I’m interested in, I’m probably friends with on Facebook. As for the rest, I generally either don’t care about them now or haven’t ever cared about them from back in the day either so why would I want to spend an evening with them?
I conveniently always have had some other kind of commitment whenever there has been a been a reunion scheduled.
EXACTLY, Jay. And thank you!
I’m so glad there’s a new book! I missed Zoe and Pete! I’ve gone to one high school reunion and one grade school reunion. The high school one was the 20th (I think) and it was the only one our class had–we were kind of an apathetic sort.
My grade school reunion was around 1998 and was fun. It was for anyone who ever attended St. Philip’s, and included a tour of the school (which sadly closed last year). It was a beautiful building, built around 1915 or so with dark woodwork and real marble floors. My favorite teacher was there and it was fun to talk to him as an adult. The school librarian, Sister Aninna, was in her 90s at the time. When my sisters and I walked into the library, she said, “Oh, it’s the Oliphant girls!” I even found the copy of Snow Treasure that still had my signature on the sign out page from 4th grade.
That is so cool, Joyce!
I have never gone and haven’t been interested but after seeing pictures from the 50th, I think it would have been less intimidating than I expected. Most of the women don’t look much better than fluffy me except the one I already keep contact with. Even though I was and still am an introvert, there were a lot of people that I remember as kind when I take time to think about them.
For once I couldn’t stay awake to start reading as soon as Fatal Reunion landed on my Kindle. I will be starting it in just and bit and can barely wait to do the things I need to do first!
Jeanie, I hope you enjoy it!
Congratulations on the release of “Fatal Reunion”! Can’t wait for the opportunity to read it.
No, I’ve never been to any of the reunions and have no intentions of every going.
My dad retired from the Army just as I was going into high school moving us back to Arkansas. Seems the classes I had taken in 9th grade in California were considers college courses there. I ended up being put in classes with seniors. Kids my age didn’t want to hang with that “smart” kid. The classmates didn’t want to hang with the “punky” young kid. Being military, I hadn’t gone to school with anyone two years in a row much less from kindergarten through high school so there was no long time friendships. With the clicks of years making in place, I didn’t fit in anywhere. All in all, I hated high school.
2clowns at arkansas dot net
I totally get it, Kay. And thanks!
I attended my 50th high school reunion – the first I had been to. It was nice to catch up with some people and find out what they had done over the years, but other than seeing my best friend from high school, I really didn’t find any great bond with them. I was not one of the popular kids, more of a nerd, and that seems to have remained true.
Nerds of the world, UNITE!
I’ve only been to one of my high-school reunions, the 10th. After looking around at the popular, “beautiful” people and seeing where they were headed, I thought, “Okay, I’m cool.” I’ve never had the urge to attend another.
But I rarely miss a college reunion. Next month is my delayed 25-year reunion, which should have happened in 2020 (oops) and I’m already making plans with all my close friends.
Thanks, Liz! And have fun at your 25/26/27-year college reunion!
Few authors I enjoy more than Annette. I like her characters, her horses, her plots. Everything but the blizzards.
Hahaha! No blizzards in this one, Jackie. Thank you so much for your kind words!
Congratulations on the new book! I liked high school and have gone to several class reunions. I had a big class — over 600 — but the lines of who was in what group have disappeared. So many of us are connected on Facebook and we have a class page to stay in touch.
Thanks, Sherry! Yes, one of the good things about Facebook is its ability to let us stay connected.
Big time congrats on the new release, Annette! I want to a few reunions but the same groups hung out together so I stopped going a long time ago. Don’t miss them, either. I can keep in touch with my friends from high school on Facebook, so that works. Have a fab day!
Thanks so much, J.C.!
Happy book birthday, Annette! Can’t wait to read your latest and catch up with Zoe and Pete. It’s been a while, and I’ve missed them.
Reunions! Nope, haven’t made one yet. I attended a small (25 to a class), all-girls, private school in New Jersey. Following college, I moved to south Florida-well out of the easy travel zip code. When our 25th came around, I thought about attending, but then the school announced the party would be in the gym and no significant others were invited. Rather lacked appeal. I had planned to attend my 50th. Talk about dating yourself, but it was in 2020. A higher power stepped in and said, Bleep! Not happening. Maybe I’ll schedule for my 75th :).
Thanks, Kait! I hope you enjoy the book! 75th reunion, huh? Okay, I’ll go to that one if you will! 🙂
Sounds like we’re the same age, Kait!
Annette, hi! I woke up this morning and Fatal Reunion was on my Kindle, with the rest of your books;-)
Confession here, I really like my high school reunions. Right now, I am on a committee planning a “birthday party” instead of a reunion for our classmates. It will be this coming weekend. Our 55th reunion would have been in 2020 so we are much delayed. The response diminishes as time goes by, but we all have fun seeing one another, so we keep doing it.
There is no way that I would go to any of these if I’d been bullied in high school! NO WAY! The elementary school I attended in a small town about 40 miles from where I went to high school is a place to which I’d never return. You may think that your nick names were insulting, but I won’t even share mine!
Judy, I hope you enjoy the book!
High school reunions can be problematic. A close friend (who I wasn’t close with in HS) talked me into going to 10th & 30th reunions. Didn’t have a great time at either one, it was a large class (almost 1000 people) & the people who attended weren’t the ones I was close with in school. In more recent years I reconnected with a lot of old friends & connected with a few I hadn’t known back then, so the 50th reunion was very different – I had a wonderful time! Ironically, my friend was the one who didn’t enjoy this one!
How wonderful that you enjoyed your 50th, Judith. Sorry that your friend didn’t.
Happy Book Birthday! I haven’t been to any of my class reunions, but I did go with my husband to his 25th. So many hadn’t reached their promised successes and many of the geeks and bookworms were incredibly successful. We haven’t gone to any others.
Cheryl, did your husband go to my high school? That sounds so familiar!
Congratulations on the latest book! It sounds really good. My husband and I were all paid up to attend my 45th class reunion in 2020 but sadly COVID happened and it ended up being canceled. I was disappointed, my husband not so much. Lol. I only attended the High School I graduated from for my senior year having moved there from a school district I had attended since kindergarten between my junior and senior year. I didn’t have the close friendships that most of the others in the small town we’d moved to had. They were the most accepting bunch of kids and I have enjoyed going to the two reunions I have attended. I am looking forward to whenever they schedule another one. My husband will go with me if I want to go. He doesn’t attend his reunions. He says there’s no one he cares to see.
Laurie, I would love to go to my husband’s reunion (same graduation year, different school) but he says the same thing as your husband.
And thank you!
I went to several. They got progressively worse. The snobs were still the snobs. And that is who mostly went to them, particularly in the later years. I don’t need to prove myself to anybody. And I moved away from that small-minded city 50 years ago.
Ginny, YES. Totally agree.
I always thought I’d attend my high school reunions. I wouldn’t mind reconnecting with some of my friends from back then. However, it’s always been at a time that doesn’t work, and since I wound up living out of town, it would take some travel to get to it.
Timing is another issue. I always seem to have something else lined up on that date. Really. I kid you not. 😉
Congratulations on the new book. A subject we all consider in our lives! Reunions can be both fun and not so much fun. I am from a very large class as well, about 1000. However, what has been very sad is the fewer of the class that remain. Each reunion, the list of those who have left us gets larger while the list of the rest of us shrinks. I do enjoy seeing some of those old friends and miss the others. Reunions are a great ground leveler.
Thanks, Doris. And “a great ground leveler” indeed!
Congratulations on the latest release, Annette! My fiftieth was covided out. There was a reunion this year but it turned into a long, amazing, crazy email thread about bullying and murder! Yes, murder. It’s a crazy story I will tell her sometime.
Barb, sounds like I could have used some of that email thread in this book! And thank you.
Delighted to see that the Zoe Chambers series continues. 🙂
About those reunions…I haven’t attended any for over a decade, mostly because I moved away from that area years ago. BUT, I can imagine all sorts of murderous intentions targeting certain individuals. Kidding, of course. Maybe. 😉
I can’t wait to see what’s in store for Zoe. lol
“Kidding, of course. Maybe.” Hahaha!!!
I have never attended a class reunion. I was tempted a couple of times, but then I asked myself WHY??
I have went to one of my class reunion and one school reunion. I had a marvelous time at both seeing people again. Thank you for sharing. I love the cover. God bless you.
I had a wonderful time at the one class reunion I attended. I also went to a weekend school reunion. It was so much fun. Thank you for sharing. God bless you.
I went to my 25th, and then lost track, or they lost track of me, or maybe there were no more. It was fun catching up, and no murders (that I know of). Terrific book!
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