Family Reunion is once again available, this time in digital format for a new generation of readers.
Stephanie Kenyon, an ambitious young reporter with the Los Angeles Tribune, is assigned to write a story about Severman House, a homeless shelter in downtown L.A. She thinks it will be another routine assignment until she meets Weasel, a scruffy little character who lives at Severman House.
Weasel tells Stephanie that he used to be a member of the infamous “Mother Earth Family,” a rag-tag band of radical environmentalists who murdered several Hollywood personalities in the late ’60s. Although the perpetrators of the murders are still in prison, Weasel claims that The Family was much larger than most people imagined. Further, he claims that a number of people who had once been a part of The Family have gone on to lead successful lives. He asks Stephanie to write a newspaper article about the decent former Family members, to remove the stigma they had to feel from being associated with the few people who had committed the horrendous murders.
Stephanie is skeptical of Weasel's story until he tells her about “the book.” He claims there is a book that contains the names of all ex-Family members, along with their addresses, phone numbers, occupations, etc. The book is kept up to date by a former Family member named Xeno. Weasel says that Xeno is definitely not one of the decent ones--he actually saw Xeno butcher a helpless man in a park. Although Weasel is terrified of Xeno, they still occasionally get together to talk about old times with The Family. This is how Weasel has come to know about the book.
Stephanie is intrigued by Weasel’s story, but she wants to confirm the existence of the book before she commits to writing a piece about the former Family members and what they are doing now. Weasel overcomes his fear of Xeno enough to tell Stephanie where the book is hidden in an abandoned mountain cabin.
With some difficulty Stephanie finds the cabin. She waits to make certain there is no one around, then enters the cabin and removes the planks in the wall that conceal the book. She opens it to find that what Weasel claimed was true -- current, detailed information about dozens of people who had once been a part of the Mother Earth Family. And just as Weasel had said, a number of them had gone on to very successful careers as teachers, attorneys, and even a state senator. Stephanie is not sure if they will want to reveal a hidden chapter in their lives, but at that moment she decides to pursue the story. She didn’t know, however, that she was not alone in the cabin, and that she would soon become part of the story she was about to write.
Thus begins a whirlwind journey that takes Stephanie throughout California to interview former Family members. Many are cooperative and see the interview with Stephanie as a chance to finally exorcize old demons that had haunted them through the years. Others lash out at Stephanie for invading their lives and threatening their privacy.
Stephanie’s editor jumps onboard and her idea for a story becomes a featured series in The Trib that will culminate with a weekend gathering of several former Family members, a true Family Reunion. But along the way mysterious events occur, and the threats on Stephanie's life begin.
The series runs in The Trib with much publicity and controversy. Weasel is convinced that Xeno has targeted him for death for telling Stephanie about The Book. Stephanie vows to protect Weasel, but he soon disappears. Then a mutilated body is found in a downtown alley.
Numb and feeling responsible for Weasel’s death, Stephanie still puts together the Family Reunion, not knowing the tragic consequences that would result. More murders are committed after the reunion, and Stephanie’s own life is in jeopardy in a final confrontation at the secluded mountain cabin where she found the book.
- Nicholas Sarazen, September 2011
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