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Family reunion
Carol Smith
Adult Fiction SMITH

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From Publishers' Weekly:

Set in present-day London and Provence, this suspense novel by the popular author of The Neighbors is part juicy family melodrama, part stirring suspense story. On the eve of her 80th birthday, reclusive Annesley family matriarch Odile writes to each member of the Annesley clan from her sprawling farmhouse in Provence, communicating details of her will. In response, Odile's five granddaughters plan to travel in convoy to the French homestead for a surprise visit to their estranged grandmother. The trip is deferred until the midpoint of the novel, as the granddaughters are reacquainted with each other. Clemency, the eldest, is comfortably married with four children and lives outside London; Elodie is a single and raunchy dress designer living in Paris. Madeleine, residing alone in London, is a Norwegian "ice queen"; Isabelle, at the other end of the spectrum, is a plumpish student at Oxford. Finally, Cherie is a single mother, poor and resentful of the Annesley entitlement, from which she feels excluded. This motley crew arrives in Provence to find the farmhouse quite desolate and the garden disturbed by a freshly dug grave. The terror heightens as two more Annesleys are murdered and the group uncovers bloody secrets buried in the family's past. Though the novel's denouement fails to convince, its plotting is otherwise solid, its characters rounded and its pacing sprightly. As with Smith's previous romantic suspense novels, it should find eager readers. (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved

From Library Journal:

In her fourth novel, Smith (The Neighbors) combines the foible-filled lives of nine cousins with the spookiness of an old mansion in Provence to produce a mystery unlike the traditional whodunit. Avoiding clues and detectives, Smith piles the corpses of murdered relations onto a raging bonfire of family passions, stoked by a long-ignored scandal. The 80th birthday of the family matriarch provokes a house party where gory death continues to stalk the revelers. A crescendo of an ending worthily concludes the tale. Smith knows her Provence and writes convincingly of London and Oxford as well. As long as readers first memorize the thoughtfully provided family tree, this is a corker of a story for mystery fans, particularly those who enjoy psychological thrillers of the Ruth Rendell school. A solid buy for leisure reading and public libraries.DBarbara Conaty, Library of Congress (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

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main characters Odile Annesley
Age: 80
Family matriarch; living in a self-imposed exile for 40 years.

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