Is it art or murder? In Page's savory 17th Faith Fairchild mystery (after 2006's The Body in the Ivy ), the caterer/chef uncovers sinister doings at the Ganley Museum of Art in Aleford, Mass. When Faith's friend Patsy Avery, the president of the museum's board of trustees, asks her to investigate a potential forgery, Faith is reluctant to jump back into the detecting world. She finally agrees to open a cafe in the museum at Patsy's urging, but soon discovers a bald female corpse floating in a tank intended for an art installation. Faith's subsequent investigation reveals that the woman, who called herself "Tess Auchincloss," had a stolen Degas sketch stashed in her apartment. Joining forces with Det. Lt. John Dunne, Faith scrambles to solve the case even as the list of suspect grows and another murder occurs. Along with fun foodie details, Page provides an entertaining subplot involving Faith's rebellious teenage son, Ben. (May)Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.
The Body in the Gallery (Faith Fairchild Series #17)by Katherine Hall Page
Faith's catering business has been slow with the downturn of the economy, so when her friend Patsy Avery proposes that she take over the café at Aleford's Ganley Art Museum, it seems like a not-to-be-missed opportunity. And Patsy has an ulterior motive—she discovers that the Romare Bearden piece she lent the museum has been switched with a fake and
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Faith's catering business has been slow with the downturn of the economy, so when her friend Patsy Avery proposes that she take over the café at Aleford's Ganley Art Museum, it seems like a not-to-be-missed opportunity. And Patsy has an ulterior motive—she discovers that the Romare Bearden piece she lent the museum has been switched with a fake and wants Faith to snoop around to find the culprit.
Life at the museum doesn't stay calm for long and Faith is soon enmeshed in the Ganley's murky past and present as she struggles to make connections among apparently disparate items: the fake Bearden, Pepperidge Farm Goldfish crackers, and a Jane Doe corpse that turns up as an unintended part of an art installation. At home, son Ben, now in the hell known as middle school, becomes involved in a cyberbullying escapade and husband Tom wants his wife to morph into June Cleaver.
Her investigation takes Faith into Boston's art scene and historic Beacon Hill, as well as into the lives behind the façade of the Ganley's very proper board of trustees. She is at her wit's—and almost dead—end, as the killer strikes again, and again.
After 16 adventures, one would think caterer Faith Fairchild would know better than to snoop around a New England art gallery where paintings are being replaced by forgeries and murder is just around the corner. In Agatha Award winner Page's latest entry in her culinary mystery series, Faith spends almost as much time with her minister husband dealing with their petulant teenage son as she does snooping around and getting involved in the police investigation. Read Joan Hess for a more insightful rendering of the amateur sleuth-meets-mystery novel. Following The Body in the Ivy, this one is a letdown; recommended only where there is interest. [See Prepub Mystery, LJ1/08.]
Jo Ann Vicarel Copyright 2007 Reed Business Information
Read an Excerpt
The Body in the Gallery
A Faith Fairchild Mystery
"Wait, let me get this straight. Isn't what you're suggesting called 'breaking and entering'?"
Faith Fairchild's fingers had been hovering over the plate of sticky buns her friend Patsy Avery had put out to go with the coffee they were drinking as they sat in Patsy's large kitchen on Maple Street—two blocks from Faith's house, the First Parish parsonage. Now she pulled her hand away as if the buns themselves might be larcenous.
"Entering, no breaking involved. All very legit. As president of the board of trustees I have the museum's alarm code. Trustee. Trust. We're not removing anything from the property, merely taking a look at something that's already there."
"Then why do we have to do it at night when the Ganley is closed? And why does it have to be 'we,' by the way?"
"Have a bun. You know you want one. I haven't been explaining this very well. To reiterate."
"You're sounding very lawyerly." Faith took a bun and started picking the pecans from the top. Patsy's mother sent the toothsome pastries up from Louisiana periodically, and even though Faith was a caterer, she had never been able to duplicate them. The recipe was a family secret—like the ones for jambalaya and cornbread.
"I am a lawyer."
"Just a reminder."
"Okay. When we were first married, Will and I bought a Romare Bearden. You saw it in the show that's up at the museum now."
Faith remembered it well. It was a Bearden collage from the 1960s, often considered the period when he was doing his best work. This piecewas deceptively simple—a bass player in blue set against a background of more shades of blue. The rich brown of the musician's hands and face were in sharp contrast to the soft yellows and reds of the instrument itself, which merged to become part of his body. Looking at it, you could hear the notes—mellow, vibrant, pure jazz. Feel the intensity of the player, floating through the space the artist had created—Bearden, the figure, the viewer, all one with the music.
She nodded. "It's wonderful."
"When I was asked to join the board, Will and I decided to offer it to the museum as a permanent loan. We didn't plan to take it back, but we wanted to see what kind of commitment the museum would make, and continue to make, toward broadening its horizons before we gave it outright. Loan is the operative word here, my nervous friend. It's still my Bearden."
Faith nodded again. She was with her friend so far, recalling that African-American artists were severely underrepresented at the Ganley before the Averys' gift started the ball rolling. The Ganley, to its credit, was making up for lost time. A new acquisition, an Elizabeth Catlett mother and child bronze, that was also in the show was stunning. Faith had almost wept it was so beautiful. Catlett often portrayed mothers and children, which reminded Faith why she thought Patsy had asked her to drop by.
When Patsy had called Faith to come over for coffee, that she had something important to tell her, Faith happily jumped to the conclusion that the Averys were expecting their first child. They had been trying for a long time. A good-sized house and yard for the family they were planning to start was the reason they had moved from Boston's South End to Aleford, a western suburb. Patsy and Will had both grown up in large New Orleans families, and Faith had sympathized with Patsy at the announcement of each sister's, sister-in-law's, and cousin's new arrivals, while the Averys' cradle remained empty. "The way they're poppin' them out, must be something in that Louisiana air. We need to move home," Patsy had said at one point. But Will had made partner in a prestigious firm, and Patsy loved her exhausting job as a juvenile public defender. "These babies have no problem having babies, and that's the problem," she'd mentioned to Faith often. The Averys had seen specialists and engaged in all kinds of treatments without success so far.
Yet, it wasn't news of a blessed event, but of an unexpected one. Faith had no sooner sat down than Patsy had excitedly started talking about getting into the Ganley tomorrow night to look at the Bearden collage—one she strongly suspected was not the one the Averys had loaned the museum. Now she had calmed down and was patiently explaining it all to Faith, who had quickly gotten over her initial surprise and in one part of her mind was even starting to agree with Patsy's rationalizations. The woman was the president of the board of trustees, after all.
"It was all right at the opening, although it's hard to see what's on the walls with so many ¬people milling around. That's why I went in today to take a last look by myself. I wanted to say good-bye for a while before it goes into storage. It could be a few years before it's in another exhibition. There I was, almost alone—there are never many ¬people first thing in the morning—and right away I knew it wasn't our Bearden."
"How could you tell?" Faith asked.
"It was a vibe. I'm not one of those ¬people who can spot a fake—I don't have 'the Eye'—but I've lived with this piece of art. I know it. The colors were right, the composition, everything, but something was off. Bearden's signatures were very distinctive. This one was vertical in black script so fine it looked like it was written with an etching tool—four lines, Rom, are, Bear, and den. As much of a work of art as the rest."
Faith had an art dealer friend from the years before her marriage when she had been living in her native Manhattan. Andy always said the way an artist signed a piece of art could make or break it.The Body in the Gallery
A Faith Fairchild Mystery. Copyright © by Katherine Page. Reprinted by permission of HarperCollins Publishers, Inc. All rights reserved. Available now wherever books are sold.
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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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Have always enjoyed the Faith Fairchild series and this lived up to my expectations. I love the mysteries and the interaction of her family members and friends. Altho' I must say, I would have probably been a little sterner with a son than she was. But, that's what fiction is all about, right? Draws us into the story. I do recommend this series for anyone looking for an enjoyable quick read!
I couldn't read 5 pages before I dropped it. It is going to the 2nd hand store if it isn't already there.
Caterer Faith Fairchild's friend Patsy Avery suggests she take over the café at the local Ganley Art Museum since business has been slow. Plus Patsy wants her to figure out who switched the priceless piece she lent the museum with a fake. Faith stumbles upon a mysterious corpse one morning that stirs up the already murky history of the museum. Who is she and could have killed her and why? As if that weren't enough, Faith's middle school aged son, Ben, is being more secretive and defiant than normal. Where did her little boy go? What is he up to? Why aren't he and Josh, who was his best friend for many years, no longer hanging out? Can Faith unravel the mysteries without putting herself in danger? I enjoy this series. Faith and her family are very real. Middle school is such a hard time for kids, and the author has really captured some of that frustration for the kids as well as the parents. The mystery is well-crafted and there are plenty of suspects to keep you guessing. I highly recommend this book and complete series.
Faith Fairchild is the wife of a minister, mother of two children, owner of a catering business and oh yeah ¿ amateur detective. Have Faith, her business has been affected by the slowing economy, so when her friend Patsy suggests that Faith take over the cafe at the Ganley Art Museum, she jumps at the chance. There is of course a catch¿. Patsy and her husband have donated a painting to the Ganley Museum and plan to make the loan permanent when she notices that something is not quite `right¿ with the painting. Patsy wants Faith to take over operation of the museum café and use her amateur detective skills to find out who has been replacing original works of art with skillful forgeries. As always, it doesn¿t take Faith long to stumble over trouble or rather a body. What starts out as an investigation into art forgery quickly turns to murder. Meanwhile on the home front Faith knows something is not quite right with her middle school aged son. Initially I thought this book was boring, but the book did pick up speed about half way through and eventually grabbed my attention. I felt that a major portion of the book was taken up by paragraph after paragraph of descriptions about the origins the Ganley Museum, the food that was being served by the catering company or descriptions of the various pieces of artwork (real or imagined) that was highlighted in the story. This is the first book I had read by Ms. Page and perhaps if I had started from the beginning of the series (which is usually my preference) I might have felt more of a connection to Faith as a character. On a rating scale of 1-5 (where 1 = bad, 3 = average, 5 = exceptional) I would give this a rating of 3. In summary, I believe that while this book is good, it could have been better had it contained less detailed descriptions of the food, artwork, museum etc., and had the plot expanded. I would have also liked for the book to be a little longer, at just over 250 pages including the recipes it felt, well, short.
In Aleford, Massachusetts, the Ganley Museum is gaining quite a reputation for quality items and exhibits. Board member Pasty Avery asks her close friend Faith Fairchild, owner of the catering business Have Faith, to visit the museum to see if a valuable Bearden collage she donated has been replaced by a fake. Faith is small enough to crawl under the laser beams to grab the painting, which she takes to Patsy, who becomes hysterical when the back lacks a telltale mark making this a fake. --- A few days later at an extravaganza at the museum, Faith finds the dead body of a bald woman in a fish tank that is part of the exhibit. Patsy and Faith believe that the forgery and the homicide are linked with the latter trying to figure out how. Someone identifies the victim, but the police insist no such person exists. By the time the two amateur sleuths learn who the deceased is, someone else is killed. Faith is in the middle of another homicide investigation that brings her to the attention of a dangerous killer. --- The latest Faith Fairchild amateur sleuth tale contains the usual delightful mystery with a murderer who is not easy to identify, but when revealed seems plausible that this person committed these atrocities. The story line also focuses on the heroine¿s home life and the problems she is having with her teenage son. Thus readers get an insightful family drama that adds depth to the plot, but also questions why she failed to address the issues with her son when they first surfaced. Nevertheless this is a fine body of work that will please fans of the author. --- Harriet Klausner