Something was very wrong on Sanpere this summer . . .
To escape the misery of a sweltering August in Aleford, Massachusetts, caterer and minister's wife Faith Fairchild and her family head for their cottage on Maine's peaceful Sanpere Island in Penobscot Bay. But things have changed since their last visit. An aggressive developer is moving forward on plans that will destroy the unique ambience of the island, infuriating residents. Tensions are running dangerously high, and soon murder rears its hideous head. Faith discovers a corpse while exploring the grounds of Sanpere's historic lighthouse. With fear running rampant and volatile emotions approaching the detonation point, the intrepid sleuth must track down a killer for the sake of a friend and the island she loves.
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
The Body in the Lighthouse
A Faith Fairchild Mystery
Sawdust and nails covered the floor. A piece of plywood had been set on two sawhorses as a makeshift counter. It bowed slightly under the weight of an ancient microwave, power tools, containers of coffee, and doughnut boxes. Mold was floating in the congealed cream on the cup Faith Sibley Fairchild had picked up, intending to heave it at her husband, Tom, who was smiling sheepishly at her from the doorway -- a doorway Faith had thought was supposed to be the site for a fireplace. She put the cup down, grabbed a desiccated doughnut from the hand of her seven-year-old son, Benjamin, snatched an iridescent beef jerky stick from the lips of her three-year-old daughter, Amy, and spoke in a carefully measured tone. A very carefully measured tone. Each word enunciated. Each word weighing several tons.
"Sweetheart, I thought you told me that the house was almost finished. It doesn't look almost finished to me."
She had been driving for five hours from the Fairchilds' home, the parsonage in Aleford, Massachusetts, to their summer cottage on Sanpere Island, off the coast of Maine. Five hours in a car with two children well below the age of reason or ability to retain liquids; children who required not only frequent pit stops but constant stimulation in the form of Raffi tapes. Ben, a curious soul, also needed to pepper his mother with questions, answerable and unanswerable: "Why is it called the Maine Turnpike --' cause it's in the state or 'cause it's main?" and "Why are they always working on it every time we drive to Sanpere?" Faith had often thought of offering her services as a consultant to the Massachusetts Department of Correction. Locking miscreants up in cells displayed a certain lack of imagination when it came to sentencing. Most parents could reel off dozens of alternatives, with no possibilities for recidivism.
"Honey," Tom said, "I know how it looks, but, believe me, it really is close to the end. We've got the punch list. Mostly, what you're seeing just means painting, a little cleanup, and a few trips to the dump." In contrast to his wife's words, Tom's rushed out in a torrent, and he tested the waters by moving a few steps closer to her. Clutching a child firmly at each side, she was standing as rigid as Niobe after the gods got to her.
She held up her hand, and Tom stopped in his tracks.
"There are no cabinets, as far as I can see," she said, starting to tick off items with one finger, "nor counters, except for that." Pointer went down as her gaze swept over the plywood, virtually igniting it. "I see you have apparently decided on a different location for the fireplace." Another finger joined the others. "And ..."
Before she made a fist, Tom strode over and put his arms around his family.
"Okay, okay. It's not as far along as we'd hoped, but I was sure you'd want to be here, want to be a part of it, make decisions -- and besides, I missed you guys."
Tom, the Reverend Thomas Fairchild of Aleford's First Parish Church, had been making the long commute to Maine whenever he could steal some time. The Fairchilds' cottage, a simple one-story square built before Amy was born and Ben reliably ambulatory, had been in desperate need of remodeling. From the beginning, the project had been dear to Tom's heart, and he'd spent the previous two weeks away from his family, nail gun in hand, having a ball. Caterer Faith had obligations and was, truth to be told, just as happy to avoid the mess. Yet she had missed Tom, too. She looked into his deep brown eyes. He had sawdust in his hair and was wearing a carpenter's apron from Barton's Lumberyard jauntily tied low on his waist, a badge of honor. She scrutinized his shirt to make sure it was well tucked into his jeans -- front and back. That other badge of honor, revealed when a workman bent to his task, and known locally as "The Sanpere Smile," was safely out of sight.
"It will be wonderful when it's done," she admitted, returning his hug and looking through the three large plate-glass windows at "the view." People in Maine prized their views, or, if they didn't have much of a one, drove or hiked to one. The Fairchilds' view would have been "Worth a Journey" in any Michelin guide. The tide was still coming in and the late-afternoon sun had turned the water's surface to gold. A heron was perched on a granite ledge in the cove. The tip of a long sandy beach, one of few on the island, curved to an end at their property. Sea lavender, grasses, and bay-berry grew in abundance above the high-tide mark, giving way to a small meadow surrounded by tall pines and slender birches. A few sailboats dotted the expanse of water that extended as far as the eye could see -- Swans Island and Isle au Haut distant on the horizon, large rounded shapes like slumbering beasts.
"Come on, let me show you the rest. You're going to love it!" Tom enthused. "And don't worry about dinner. I've got everything under control." His relief was palpable -- and contagious. Faith doubted the dinner part, but, after the initial shock, she could see that the room was going to work, and she began to feel happy. They'd gutted the original house, leaving the tent ceiling with its Adirondack-like bead board intact. She noted that under the debris, the hardwood pine floor had been installed. This one large room, with all its windows bringing the outdoors in, would serve as kitchen and living room area. There was an island divider in place, waiting for the drop-in stove, and their refrigerator had been enclosed in its new location.The Body in the Lighthouse
A Faith Fairchild Mystery. Copyright © by Katherine Page. Reprinted by permission of HarperCollins Publishers, Inc. All rights reserved. Available now wherever books are sold.
Table of Contents
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
Tom and Faith Fairchild accompanied by their two children leave their Massachusetts home to spend the summer renovating their cottage on Sanpere Island, Maine. To their surprise the usually serene residents are livid as mansion building is in vogue with the invasion of wealthy individuals having houses built as toys for their use. Some Sanpere islanders are a bit more active in their resentment, mostly with protests. When the tide ebbs the corpse of developer Harold Hapswell is found jammed between two ledges at the base of the lighthouse. Faith thinks Hapswell was murdered, which is confirmed when someone attacks her near the lighthouse. As the island simmers in anger, summer events continue. Faith unable to ignore the homicide following the attempted assault on her and begins her own brand of investigation. THE BODY IN THE LIGHTHOUSE is a fun summer breeze cosy that is an ideal beach book. The story line moves in a contrasting way between the murder and the festivities. Though Faith should know better than to risk her life as she does, she remains a fresh amateur sleuth (after thirteen novels, amateur seems wrong, but then again the professional gets paid) willing to do what she thinks is right. This is simply a lighthearted breezy mystery. Harriet Klausner
Faith Fairchild, her minister husband Tom, and their two children are vacationing on Sanpere Island, Maine. While Tom remodels their vacation home and the children attend day camp, Faith passes the time by volunteering to help with a local production of Romeo and Juliet. Faith soon senses that all is not well on Sanpere. Developer Harold Hapswell has acquired prime shoreline property and plans to build luxury housing there. The controversy surrounding the development pits groups of residents against each other, primarily those from fishing families who have lived on Sanpere for generations and off-islanders who live on the island year-round, but have no roots there. The summer residents are not immune from the tension, either. When Faith finds a body near the island's lighthouse, seemingly the victim of an accidental death, the atmosphere of conflict leads her to suspect murder. A sub-plot has life imitating art, as the son and daughter ("Romeo" and "Juliet") of the feuding Hamiltons and Prescotts develop an off-stage romance against their families' wishes. This is a great summer read. If the beach isn't in your summer plans, you can at least enjoy it vicariously with the Fairchilds and their friends!
I highly recommend this series.
If you are not familiar with Faith Fairchild and her family enter the world that Katherine Hall Page creates for her readers. In the cozy mystery genres she is one of the best!
Faith Fairchild and her family have gone to Sanpere Island, Maine, to their summer vacation home during a hot August. The renovations on their place aren't finished, so they move in with her friend Pix's mother. She learns a lot about the attitudes of the residents versus the summer people and especially the problems of residents losing their property to those building McMansions. The unrest is also evident by a feud going on between two families.
Faith discovers a body while exploring Sanpere's historical lighthouse and its grounds. Things begin to get serious, and Faith worries about keeping her family safe while she tracks down a killer.
I enjoy the books in this series. The first one I read featured Pix, so when I read the next one featuring Faith, I was confused. But Faith has won me over. She is a great character. She didn't do as much catering in this book as usual due to being at their summer place. But her outlook on life and family rang true through this book.
I enjoyed getting to know Pix's mother and the struggles of the island. I highly recommend this book and series.