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This time out, smalltown caterer and minister's wife Faith Fairchild's neighbor, Pix Miller, takes center stage, heading off to Norway to investigate the sudden disappearance of a family friend. Determined to discover the truth, Pix is drawn into a suspenseful world of intrigue, stolen antiques, secret histories, and deadly echoes from Norway's past and the Nazi occupation. Surrounded by the country's breathtaking beauty, the ever-resourceful New Englander perseveres — until at last she finds herself face-to-face...
This time out, smalltown caterer and minister's wife Faith Fairchild's neighbor, Pix Miller, takes center stage, heading off to Norway to investigate the sudden disappearance of a family friend. Determined to discover the truth, Pix is drawn into a suspenseful world of intrigue, stolen antiques, secret histories, and deadly echoes from Norway's past and the Nazi occupation. Surrounded by the country's breathtaking beauty, the ever-resourceful New Englander perseveres — until at last she finds herself face-to-face with a remorseless killer...with no way out.
"Pix, dear, I have to leave for Norway tomorrow, and I think you'd better come, too. Something rather dreadful has happened and Marit needs us."
"Norway?" Pix Miller was still breathless from catching the phone, and the name of the country was all she could get out at the moment. Norway -- this was considerably farther afield than her mother's usual proposals: lunch at Boston's venerable Chilton Club, bird-watching at the Audubon Sanctuary in Lincoln. Then the rest of what her mother had said hit home and she caught her breath quickly.
"Marit! What's wrong! Is she ill?"
Marit Hansen was one of Ursula Rowe's oldest and dearest friends. They had been girls together, growing up in Aleford, Massachusetts, some eighty years ago. Marit's family had moved back to Norway when Marit was a teenager, but the two friends had always stayed in touch.
"No, Marit's fine, but it appears that Kari's boyfriend, Erik, has been killed in some sort of tragic accident."
"Oh my God! Poor Kari! How is she taking it? What a thing to have to cope with at her age. You met him last summer, didn't you?"
"Yes. He was a student at the university with Kari. They talked about getting married in a few years, when they had enough money to buy an apartment." Ursula Rowe paused as the picture of the happy, carefree couple came to mind. They had taken a picnic to one of the islands near the Hansen's house in Tonsberg, on Norway's east coast. The fjord was filled with boats and the beaches filled with people eagerly storing up the summersunshine against the long, dark winter. Kari, Marit Hansen's granddaughter, and Erik were a beautiful couple -- tall, blue-eyed, blond, so alike as to be brother and sister, except Erik was trying to grow a beard. Kari had teased him about the patchy stubble. Ursula felt very tired. It seemed every time the phone rang, it brought bad news -- sickness or another acquaintance gone. She knew she would never get used to it, no matter how often friends reached for the supposedly comforting platitudes, saying that it went with her age or that, in some cases, it had been a "good" death, mercifully painless, quick.
But this death was different. There was nothing good about it. Erik Sorgard was young, barely out of his teens at twenty-one. He had hardly begun his life. All those hopes and dreams. She realized Pix was speaking.
"Mother, are you still there?" It was unusual for Ursula to tune out.
"Sorry, its all been quite upsetting and I have so much to do to get ready. And you -- you'd better call Sam right away. Samantha can keep an eye on Danny, and we shouldn't be gone too long, I hope."
Ursula had returned to matters at hand, but Pix was confused. Of course Marit would be upset about her granddaughter's fiancé's death, and Ursula's particular brand of care -- a combination of stiff upper lip and subtle coddling -- was always effective, but to drop everything and rush off to Norway now?
"Can't you give yourself a few days to get ready? Why do you have to go tomorrow? I'm sure Marit would understand, and of course I feel terrible and would like to see Kari especially, but I can't just leave." Car pools, her part-time job at her friend and neighbor Faith Fairchild's catering company, plus all the meetings scheduled for this week -- the vestry, the food bank's steering committee, the PTA, the...
She heard a heavy sigh come over the wires. Ursula was not given to sighs, or vapors, or any other Victorian modes of self-expression.
"You wouldn't be able to see Kari. That's the whole point. She's missing. Now, wash, your hands and come over. We'll talk about it while I pack."
Pix peeled off one of her gardening gloves and regarded the dirt that always managed to seep through.
"How did you know I was in the garden?" She had to know. Her mother's clairvoyance could be startling.
"'You were out of breath and you shopped on Saturday. Tuesday morning's your Friends of the Library day and Friday's the hospital. The children are in school and you work for Faith in the afternoons, so where else would you be running in from?"
Hearing her life reduced to such a prosaic open book was depressing. Pix hung up the phone, promising to be there as soon as possible, and went to wash. She'd been thinning a patch of ribbon grass, planted as a small island for contrast in her border, and now the size of Manhattan and the boroughs, threatening to choke out the delphinium and Shasta daisies completely.
Hands clean, she reached for her car keys, then turned back to the phone and called Faith. Briefly, she related Ursula's totally absurd request and promised to stop by to fill Faith in after she'd left her mother's.
"Good," Faith replied. "This sounds interesting. What could possibly happen in quiet little Norway that would send Ursula rushing off like this, especially with you in tow? Maybe you'd better call before you come -- if I'm not here, I'll be at the kitchen. And Pix, your passport hasn't expired again, has it?"
Pix had once made the mistake of revealing this lapse to Faith, who insisted she immediately rectify the situation. "I'd as soon let my driver's license expire! What if someone offered you a free trip to Paris? You wouldn't be able to go," Pix had pointed out the extreme unlikelihood of such an event, and when Faith countered with the suggestion that Sam, Pix's husband, might suddenly propose a romantic getaway to, say, Bali, Pix was forced to admit...The Body in the Fjord. Copyright © by Katherine Page. Reprinted by permission of HarperCollins Publishers, Inc. All rights reserved. Available now wherever books are sold.
Posted March 22, 2014
Posted January 24, 2010
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