A Ghostly Reunion” Tonya Kappes
What would you do if you could see someone after they passed away? What would you do if your job as a funeral director often included dealing with what is referred to as Betweeners helping them crossover to the other side but first having to do what some might think is the impossible: FIND THEIR KILLER!
Emma Lee Raines is the proprietor at Eternal Slumber and she can see the dead after they pass away. She can even converse with them; hear their stories and often finds herself wanting to make sure that they go to the other side before she becomes a victim herself. Jade Lee Peel is about to enter Sleepy Hollow much to the chagrin of poor Emma and the entire town. Hoping to create some hype, notoriety and excitement for herself and her upcoming reality show, Jade takes the town by storm but not in a positive way. Rude, nasty, abusive in her words and mannerisms she manages to tick off just about everyone she meets. The Women’s Auxiliary Group is comprised of gossipers that live in Sleepy Hollow and much to their dismay Emma has managed to get invited as part of their group. With her grandmother, Zulu Fae Raines Payne, Hettie Bell, Beulah Page Bellefry and several others they spend their time talking about others, living in their own separate worlds and somehow colliding with them as they are planning a special reunion featuring non other than Jade Lee Peel and wait until she arrives. But, most of the town thinks that Emma Lee is has funeral trauma because as Dr. Clyde their resident Doctor often hears her talking to no one wondering if working and running a funeral home has taken some toll on her brain. Mable Claire along with the other members of the group opens this hilarious novel with their attempt at doing Yoga. Jade had many targets besides Emma Lee and wanting to make sure that she stole her boyfriend back. Mary Anna Hardy down at Girl’s Best Friend Spa gave Hettie a total makeover and turned her into a raving beauty right before her eyes. As Jade enters the picture Emma sees her trying to stick her fangs into Emma’s boyfriend Jack Henry Ross, the sheriff of Sleepy Hollow. Jade Lee might have been the most popular cheerleader and prom queen whose mother died of a stroke and whose father Artie Peel owns the local Meet and Deli and looks away from her faults and would do anything for her. Emma Lee is rude, abusive and when entering with her assistant Tina, you can see her cower, grab or catch Jade’s car keys and then fade off into the distance as Jade grabs on to Beulah and then attempts the other on to Jack. Fuming and you can see the fire in her eyes, Emma Lee gets a talking to from her grandmother who is trying to boost her ego but somehow it does not come out right.
What can calm your nerves nothing better than going to the Watering Hole for some great coffee? Seeing Jade with Jack arm in arm, reminded Emma of the way she made fun of her was mean to her and tried to embarrass her every step of the way in High School. Just seeing her made the fire in Emma come out and now she would have to deal with creating the reunion, deciding what to wear, dealing with the food and the preparations but as you know when Tonya Kappes writes a novel of this high magnitude there is always a strange twist and of course a delectable murder that will send her over the edge but not in the way you think. With Jade needing to get her hair done and enlisting the help of the local hairdresser, threatening to ruin her life and her business if anything goes wrong, renting out the entire spa and salon for the day you wonder why anyone would agree to take her on no less do her hair and makeup.
Charlotte Raines is Emma’s sister and works for Hardgroves another funeral home, which has services that are state of the art. They even do weddings and bridal showers in different rooms. They have facilities that cater to just about everything but Emma is there to get Charlotte to sign off on ownership of Eternal Slumber, which is now hers. But, Charlotte is stonewalling her and has yet to sign the papers making readers wonder and Emma too why?
Mary Anna was the poor stylist that had the misfortune of doing Jade’s hair. Someone else when they realized it was Jade might have turned her down due to the threats that came along with the job. As the color is placed and her hair is to be done what happens next is right out of a Lucy and Ethel scene. What would you do if your hair turned emerald green? Wait until you find out what Jade does. Added in we meet Fluggie Callahan who owns the town’s paper and is determined to get a story out of Jade’s visit and much more. The film crew was there hoping to get the scoop on Jade and Fluggie thought she was holding all the cards with Emma but Emma is smart and blackmail would not work. Higher Ground, Girl’s best friend were closed and sold out to Jade but her assistant Tina appears to follow her like a little puppy dog appearing to cower and afraid of what his/her master might do if he/she disobeys. When Emma and Jade are face to face what she says would help readers understand why someone would want her offed. Stating that Emma is the grim reaper and Tina giving her a forlorn or I feel bad look, did not stop Emma from hearing Jade claim she was joking. But, the fun was about to begin when she realizes that her hair is a sparkling shade of Emerald Green and the fireworks are just about to begin. The poor owner of the hair salon will never be the same and what Jade threatens will change it all and will be devastating to say the least. Mistakes happen and although Mary Anna claimed she could fix it Jade was steaming and the rest you have to visualize and read for yourself. It is priceless to say the least. Author Tonya Kappes takes a ridiculously funny situation and turns it into a real life soap opera drama.
With Jade throwing a huge temper tantrum and the entire town in a flurry, Emma stands little chance at calming things down but the gossip train was in full speed and the entire town had taking sides. Poor Emma Lee wanted to talk Jade but according to Keisha handling her public relations she was not on the approved list. No wonder what is about to happen as someone really wants to rid the world of Jade Lee Peel but why? Just when Emma thinks things could not get any worse and the reunion is planned and the final outcome is revealed someone decided to take Jade out but ordinarily that would be the undertaker’s problem but you do know that in this case and in every other case where Emma is involved she now has Jade Lee as another betweener client and this time she is in for the wildest ride of her life as Jade distracts, tortures and drives her crazy hoping to get to the other side but not before doing a number on Emma and Emma wanting her to disappear but not before she helps her to remember or figure out who killed her. With a wild cast of characters and so many suspects just who did what and why you won’t believe. But, this is just one of her troubles as her sister has not signed the papers and when Jade’s funeral is given to Emma and Eternal Slumber the vultures are out from Burns and from Hardgrove in the form of her sister to try and take the job away from her. With Granny at her side they try and get Charlotte to sign but every which way she refuses, sticks roadblocks and is determined to undermine Emma and even more. Meeting Tina, Keisha and Jade’s entourage and learning that her reality show was cancelled and the reasoning behind it you wonder if someone involved with the show killed her. While Emma tries to sort out who killed Jade the evidence points to many people related to her including her assistants and press agent. Every step of the way John Henry warns her to be careful that someone might come after her and do not investigate or do anything unless you tell me first. But, intertwined she and Granny are still trying to get Charlotte to sign over Eternal Slumber to her but to no avail. Jade gets into to fight with a person in car because they parked too close to her. Emma was doing Yoga with the Auxiliary Women’s group and then Jade saw Jack and Beulah Paige that rushed over when the film crew arrived forgetting the incident with the car. Then Jack wanted to know about her assistant Keisha adding the incident with the hair stylist and the list of people Beulah, Mary Anna , Zula, Keisha and more that would have to be interviewed. But the high jinks continue and the end result is quite surprising when you learn why Jade was killed and who did it. The final scene with Granny doing a commercial for Eternal Slumber is priceless and the ending will blow you away as someone that is hiding in plain sight decided to make sure Jade was no longer in sight. As Emma says and the author repeats many times in this hilarious novel willed with unique and individual characters: MAKE SURE YOU DON’T GET JADED OR YOU’VE BEEN JADED.
Fran Lewis: Just reviews/MJ magazine
Excerpt | A Ghostly Reunion by Tonya Kappes
Sexy isn’t a firm fanny in a thong, ladies.”
Hettie Bell didn’t seem so sexy in her hot pink leggings and matching top as she gasped for breath in her downward dog position in the middle of Sleepy Hollow, Kentucky. Her butt stuck straight up in the air, right there on display for everyone to see. Her black, chin-length bob was falling out of the small ponytail on both sides and her bangs hung down in her eyes.
“Sexy is confidence and self-acceptance. It’s exactly what yoga provides.”
Hettie Bell curled up on her tiptoes with her palms planted on one of the mats she provided for us. The rickety old floor of the gazebo, in the middle of the town square, groaned as we all tried to mimic her pose. “Yes!” Beulah Paige Bellefry hollered out like we were in the first pew of the Sleepy Hollow Baptist Church getting a good Bible beating from Pastor Brown himself.
“Amen to a good pose!”
Beulah continued to adjust her feet and hands each time she started to slip. If she wasn’t a bit overweight, I’d say it was her eighties silk sweat suit that was slicker than cat’s guts giving her problems. Or it could’ve been those pearls around her wrist, neck and ears weighing her down. Beulah never took off those pearls. She said pearls were a staple for a Southern gal.
“You said it, sister,” Mary Anna Hardy gasped. She teetered side to side, nearly knocking into Granny. Her sweat left streaks down her makeup. Who on earth got up this early and put makeup on to do yoga? Mary Anna Hardy, that’s who.
“God help us!”
I pushed back off my heels and crossed my legs, staring at all the Auxiliary women’s derrieres at my eye level.
“I’m here to do some relaxing, not Sunday school.”
Sleepy Hollow was smack-dab in the middle of the Bible Belt and if God wasn’t thrown in our conversations, then we weren’t breathing. But the last thing I wanted to think about was my butt stuck up to the high heavens and everyone up in the Great Beyond looking down upon me.