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 invited--along with live-in lover Wayne, a conversationally-challenged chef--to 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 ways--just expanded his practical joke repertoire--and 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 Hirsch--gardener, 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.