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Katherine Hall Page has delighted readers with her mysteries featuring the indomitable Faith Fairchild, professional caterer and amateur detective in quaint Aleford, Massachusetts. This time out, the crime occurs too close to home -- Faith's own home! She becomes the latest victim in a rash of neighborhood burglaries when thieves break in and clear out all her jewelry and silver. Undaunted by skeptical police, Faith sets out to find her precious belongings by figuring out how the break-ins are linked, plunging headlong into the complicated maze of New England's lucrative antiques business. Before long, she finds herself in the middle of a ring of scheming dealers who prefer theft to auctions and who aren't averse to murder if the price is right.
Boasting a popular, plucky heroine, deft plotting, and witty, suspenseful prose, The Body in the Bookcase draws on Page's real-life experience with a break-in at her home. And as Faith prepares a lavish feast for finicky Stephanie Bullock's wedding, Page showcases more of the delicious recipes her readers have come to adore.
About the Author
Katherine Hall Page is the author of twenty-three 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 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.
Read an Excerpt
Night had fallen in Aleford, Massachusetts, and its inhabitants-those who were still awake-were involved in a variety of pursuits.
At the First Parish parsonage, Faith Sibley Fairchild was sitting in the living room with her husband, the Reverend Thomas Fairchild, before the unlighted hearth. It was an attractive room, stretching from the front of the house to the back. A deep blue Oriental rug bequeathed by some previous inhabitant lay on the floor, its colors repeated in the room's drapes and upholstery. A few spindly chairs, also hand-me-downs, had been supplemented by the Fairchilds' own, more comfortable furniture. Their belongings decorated the walls, personalized the tabletops.
Their two children, Ben, five, and Amy, twenty months, were mercifully sound asleep upstairs. The morning paper and the book she was reading lay untouched on the coffee table in front of Faith. She was enjoying the rare sensation of doing nothing and her mind drifted to thoughts of May-thoughts of the current season.
Although she had lived in Aleford for six years, Faith had never become used to spring in New England. It was such a tease. Spring in Manhattan, where she had lived previously, went on and on forever. First, a certain ineffable warmth crept into the air. It was followed by the whiff of new soil, which infused the odor of exhaust fumes with promise. Central Park began to look like something from a Disney movie, daffodils playfully bending their heads to gentle breezes, beds of pansies with faces like kittens lining the walks, and animated robins hopping about on the velvet green of the Great Lawn. A brilliant swath of tulips stretchedas far as the eye could see down Park Avenue. Swelling pale green buds on branches made veils of the trees in Gramercy Park.
In Aleford, however, April meant six feet of snow and May was a big maybe. Toward the end of the month, a few of the flowers promised by the showers, or moisture in a more solid form, struggled into the light of day. Then Mother Nature did a fast-forward and everything happened at once. Fruit trees burst into blossom. Birds returned and sang. The bulbs that the squirrels and deer hadn't eaten bloomed. It was beautiful. Briefly beautiful. Then the region lurched into summer, the temperatures soaring, narcissi withering. Faith had immediately understood the local mania for forcing bulbs indoors, as well as branches of forsythia and flowering quince, or virtually anything with swelling bark one might find to hack down, cart inside, and plunge into containers of water. Forcingan apt term-as in "If X wants a hyacinth, X will be forced to force it."
"Nice to finally be able to turn the heat off," Tom said cheerfully, interrupting his wife's somewhat resentful thoughts. She walked over and sat on the arm of the wing chair where he was sitting, planting a kiss on the top of his head. There were certain compensations to New England's drawbacks, the primary one was her husband, a native son.
"You'd have turned it off in March if you hadn't married such a thin-skinned New Yorker. Admit it!" Tom was wearing a T-shirt with the slogan If God Is Your Copilot, Change Seats, given to him by one of his parishioners, while Faith was in a turtleneck and sweater. Both kids seemed to have inherited Tom's heat-generating genes. One of Ben's first full sentences had been, "I don't need a jacket, Mom." And it was a struggle to keep Amy from stripping off most of her clothes once they were on.
Tom wisely decided not to pursue the subject of thermostats any further and instead asked, "What's your schedule tomorrow? I may have some time late in the afternoon, and we can take the kids to Drumlin Farm. See the spring lambs."
It sounded terribly quaint and was just the sort of thing Faith hoped her children would remember when they grew up, not the fact that she was the meanest mother in the nursery school because Ben couldn't have Nintendo. Or at least if they remembered these other things-and there were sure to be plenty-she could always come back with "But what about all those nice times, like taking you to see the spring lambs?" She had observed Pix Miller, her friend and next-door neighbor, try this tactic with her adolescents, with varying degrees of success, but at least the ammunition was there.
"Spring lambs sound great, and I think I'll make some parish calls in the morning."
Tom looked skeptical. Faith had said the same thing the previous night.
"I know, I knowI've been putting them off, but I really haven't had a spare minute."
Faith had awakened that morning, fully intending to make some. She'd been filled with the kind of vernal energy that impels some women to attack grime on their windows and dust bunnies under the radiators-or the ironing, which, in Faith's case, threatened to erupt like Mount Vesuvius from the spare-room closet, flow down the stairs and out the front door, entombing hapless passersby for eternity. But then she'd had to help out at the last minute at Amy's play group and something had come up at Have Faith, her catering company. Suddenly, it was time to make dinner, and all her best intentions were exactly where they'd been that morning.
"You know, you don't have to do them," Tom said, drawing his wife from her perch to a more comfy place on his lap.
Even before they were married, Tom had been adamant that the "gig," as he occasionally referred to his calling, was his alone. While recognizing her husband's thought fulness, Faith was also well aware of the naivete of the notion. She'd grown up in a parish. Her father was a man of the cloth, as was his father before him. In Manhattan, the parsonage had, at Faith's mother's insistence and expense, taken the form of a roomy duplex on the Upper East Side, yet it remained a fishbowl, despite the doormen on guard. In every congregation on earth, it's an immutable ...