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The Body in the Bonfire (Faith Fairchild Series #12)

The Body in the Bonfire (Faith Fairchild Series #12)

3.9 19
by Katherine Hall Page

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Caterer and small-town minister's wife Faith Fairchild might never have accepted the job teaching a course on Cooking for Idiots at Mansfield Academy had it not been for Daryl Martin. An African-American student at the prestigious prep school, Daryl has lately become the target of a series of vicious and anonymous racial attacks — and Faith is determined to


Caterer and small-town minister's wife Faith Fairchild might never have accepted the job teaching a course on Cooking for Idiots at Mansfield Academy had it not been for Daryl Martin. An African-American student at the prestigious prep school, Daryl has lately become the target of a series of vicious and anonymous racial attacks — and Faith is determined to put an end to the injustice. But Mansfield, she finds, is a seething cauldron of secrets, academic in-fighting, and unspoken rules that complicate her task. When someone tampers with her classroom cooking ingredients — and then the remains of her prime suspect are discovered smoldering in a campus bonfire — she realizes that a monstrous evil is stalking both Daryl and the school. And suddenly Faith's own life is in serious jeopardy as well!

Editorial Reviews

Faith Fairchild's brief stint as a midterm cooking class teacher at nearby Mansfield Academy takes a harrowing turn when a body is discovered in the ashes of the annual school bonfire -- and that's only the beginning!
Publishers Weekly
Despite three brutal murders and some ugly racial prejudice in this 12th mystery to feature amateur sleuth Faith Fairchild, Agatha Award-winner Page (The Body in the Belfry, etc.) keeps the tone light as her heroine reflects wittily on the quotidian challenges of being the wife (and daughter) of a clergyman, the mother of two young children and the head of her own catering business. At Mansfield Academy, a not-so-elite boys' boarding school in a small town outside Boston, someone is harassing black student Daryl Martin, a top athlete and scholar. Faith's friend Patsy Avery calls her in to find out who's responsible for the hate-filled e-mail, offensive newspaper clippings and finally a noose left on Daryl's pillow. Under the cover of teaching a cooking class during winter project term, Faith searches for clues. At the same time, students and maintenance crew build a gigantic pyre for the school's annual bonfire. Faith is sure she's identified the harasser, Sloane Buxton, the aristocratic and handsome leader of a campus clique. When Sloane's corpse turns up in the smoldering embers of the bonfire, suspicion falls on Daryl. The harried headmaster, meanwhile, who rescued Mansfield from bankruptcy years before by buying it, has a lot of explaining to do to concerned parents. With recipes of the dishes Faith prepares in her cooking class in an appendix, this whodunit provides fully satisfying fare for a cold winter's night around the fire. Agent, Faith Hamlin. (Mar. 27) Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information.
Library Journal
New England caterer Faith Fairchild (The Body in the Moonlight) takes time to teach a cooking class at a nearby boarding school. There, she hopes to uncover the tormentor of a minority student. Unfortunately, human remains turn up after a school bonfire, so her sleuthing takes a dangerous turn. A deservedly popular series. Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information.
Kirkus Reviews
The 12th in the author's chronicles of New England caterer/sleuth Faith Fairchild removes her from the side of her minister husband Tom and their children Amy and Ben for some undercover work in Mansfield Academy, a nearby private boys' high school, where Patsy Avery, Faith's longtime lawyer friend, occasionally teaches. One of her students, junior Daryl Martin, has been the target of racist e-mails, newspaper clippings, and now a noose placed on a pillow. Patsy urges Faith to teach a cooking class at the school and use her detective skills to uncover Daryl's tormenter. Taking the job in the kitchen of Mansfield's Charleton House, Faith holds up a magnifying glass to students and staff ranging from headmaster Robert Harcourt and his flamboyant wife Zoe to games mistress Connie Reed, some oddball professors, and a few rather strange students like slick, handsome Sloane Buxton. As Faith sneakily searches rooms, tries to find out who's tampering with her kitchen ingredients and who has stolen Zoe's precious jewels, Sloane turns up missing, only to be found dead on the school's annual Bonfire Night. It takes another death, a lot more snooping, and the discovery of computer records and a host of uncovered secrets before Faith has all the answers.

Product Details

HarperCollins Publishers
Publication date:
Faith Fairchild Series , #12
Edition description:
Sales rank:
Product dimensions:
4.18(w) x 6.75(h) x 0.70(d)

Read an Excerpt

Chapter One

“You have got to be kidding! What on earth would I teach them?”

Faith Fairchild looked across the table at her friend Patsy Avery. They had met for lunch in Cambridge at the restaurant Upstairs at the Pudding. Patsy liked the braised lamb shanks and Faith liked everything.

“You've taught cooking classes before. This really wouldn't be very different.”

“Number one, they're teenagers, and number two, they're boys. And did I mention that they were teenagers?”

The waiter appeared to refill their water glasses and they halted their conversation. Not that there was anything either confidential or shocking in Patsy's request that Faith teach a basic cooking course -- Cooking for Idiots -- during Mansfield Academy's upcoming Winter Project Term. Not shocking, no. But definitely surprising -- and puzzling. Why did Patsy -- with no connection to the school, as far as Faith knew -- want her to teach a course to a bunch of zit-faced preppies?

The restaurant occupied the top floor of Harvard's Hasty Pudding Club -- the Pudding, as it has been affectionately known for over two hundred years. It staged various Harvard theatricals, most notably the annual Hasty Pudding show -- musical comedies affording generations of Harvard undergraduates the opportunity to indulge their tastes for outrageous drag and outrageous puns. This spacious upstairs room with its high ceiling looked like a stage set itself. Strings of tiny lights hung in spun-sugar garlands over large stars suspended from the chandeliers, sending a warm glow over the rich greenwalls, trimmed in crimson, of course, and gold. Framed Pudding show posters adorned the walls, and a huge gilt mirror hung behind the dark wooden bar, creating the illusion of another interior. The tables with their pink cloths and the painted gold banquet chairs were doubled, along with their occupants: professors in suits, some of the men clinging proudly to their bow ties'no clip-ons, please; Cantabrigian ladies fresh from the latest art show at the Fogg, eager for food and gossip; couples -- assignations and/or business; students with trust funds -- the food wasn't cheap; bearded men in corduroys and women in long, shapeless dresses with chunky amber beads who were or weren't famous writers; and herself and Patsy. Faith ended her inventory where it had started.

The water was poured. They all agreed it was a shame winter now prevented eating outside on the lovely rooftop terrace, although the room was indeed charming. “It always makes me feel as if the Sugar Plum Fairy is going to pirouette out from the kitchen with my order,” Patsy said whimsically. She was not a whimsical person. The waiter lingered, offering an attempt at a soft-shoe instead, and more bread, both of which were refused with further pleasantries all around. He left. Faith finished one of her Maine crab cakes with red pepper aioli, which was quite tasty (but not peeky-toe crab), and was about to ask her friend what was going on, when Patsy started talking first.

“I did it last year and had a great time with the kids. My course was called What Letter Would You Give the Law? And they were bright, articulate'plus, they kept me in stitches. Their ability to see through bullshit was truly amazing.”

Patsy had given Faith the opening she needed.

“Speaking of which, why don't you tell me why you want me to do this? It can't simply be for my own pleasure, a dubious one, as I've pointed out. I'd like to keep the knowledge of what awaits me as the parent of an adolescent until the night before each of the kids' thirteenth birthdays. Teenagers may be funny and smart. They're also terrifying. Now, you have no connection to the school that I know of, other than your course, so how come this sudden desire to recruit victims for them? And I mean both the kids and whoever runs this project thing.”Patsy dipped her fork into the rosemary polenta that accompanied her lamb. “It's not why I invited you to lunch. I really did think we were long overdue, but yes, there is an ulterior motive behind the cooking class thing.” She raised the fork to her mouth. Years in Boston had hardened but not destroyed her New Orleans accent, and her words still came out slowly, as if each had been chosen with care especially for the listener.

“I'm glad to hear it,” Faith responded. “Ulterior motives are my favorite kind.”

Patsy laughed, finished the polenta, and continued.

“I'm assuming you know about Mansfield--”

Faith interrupted her. “And you're assuming wrong, counselor. Even though I've lived in Aleford for what often seems like fifty years, I've never set foot on the Mansfield campus. It could be on another planet, although there are lots of things in town that also fall into that category. I know very little about the place, other than its being all male and grades nine through twelve.”

“Okay. There isn't much more you need to know -- about the place, that is -- but we'll get to the situation in a minute. Mansfield isn't one of the top schools; it isn't at the bottom. It's loosely associated with Cabot -- you know, the all-female school on Byford Road, going away from town. Cabot's older than Mansfield. Anyway, Mansfield started its Project Term about ten years ago to give the kids a break between midyear exams and the next semester. You can't just flake off, though. You have to keep a log of what you're doing, but what you do can be anything from learning Sanskrit to building a canoe. Faculty and people from the community -- basically, anyone the headmaster can ensnare -- offer the courses. Seniors can design their own. The kids make suggestions, and that's where you come in.”

“Having been raised by liberated boomer parents, these guys...”

The Body in the Bonfire. Copyright © by Katherine Page. Reprinted by permission of HarperCollins Publishers, Inc. All rights reserved. Available now wherever books are sold.

Meet the Author

Katherine Hall Page is the author of twenty-two previous Faith Fairchild mysteries, the first of which received the Agatha Award for best first mystery. The Body in the Snowdrift was honored with the Agatha Award for best novel of 2006. Page also won an Agatha for her short story “The Would-Be Widower.” The recipient of the Malice Domestic Award for Lifetime Achievement, she has also been nominated for the Edgar, the Mary Higgins Clark, the Maine Literary, and the Macavity Awards. She lives in Massachusetts and Maine with her husband.

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Body in the Bonfire 3.8 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 13 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This was fun to read; enjoyed it!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Who here likes the indianapolis colts
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Walks back to Ethics.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
"Ugh do not... no offence Jared. Sorry." Walks out
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Hey how are u erik is on wating
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
She walked inn
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Will you people PLEASE stop texting through book reviews?!!! It's very disrespectful and unkind!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Oh ok does a back flip near the water
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
"We were just making small talk."
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Wjoever planned it did terrible
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
harstan More than 1 year ago
Patsy Avery asks her friend caterer Faith Fairchild to teach a cooking course for idiots at the all male high school, Mansfield Academy in Aleford, Massachusetts. Patsy actually wants Faith to use the cooking course as a cover to ferret out who is committing hate crimes against African-American scholarship student Daryl Martin. The amateur sleuth agrees though she loathes teaching male teenagers.

As Faith teaches her class, she beings to investigate the students who most likely sent the hateful e-mail, nasty newspaper clippings, and the noose to Daryl. However, her inquiries take a twist when someone murders Faith¿s prime suspect Sloane Buxton with Daryl as the prime suspect. Now Faith feels obligated to prove the Roxbury resident is not only innocent but also the victim of a heinous crime.

When THE BODY IN THE BONFIRE stays focused on the hate crime, readers receive a tremendous regional cozy. When the plot spins into a murder mystery, the story line remains solid and well written, but much of the excitement is lost as if the air was let out of the balloon. Katherine Hall Paige cooks an engaging morsel that cozy and culinary mystery readers will take pleasure in especially when the delightful lead character teaches her students how to cook.

Harriet Klausner