Minister's wife Faith Fairchild is excited about catering her church's restoration campaign kickoff at historic Ballou House. But when a beautiful young woman dies moments after finishing dessert, Faith is suddenly in serious trouble. Not only is her business in jeopardy -- but Aleford's wagging tongues are suggesting that Faith herself laced the goodie with cyanide, having discovered her husband Tom's perhaps overly pastoral interest in the victim. Faith's world feels steeped in poison and never before have her amateur sleuthing skills been more crucial -- especially when another body is found in the moonlight carrying an unmistakable warning: you're next!
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
"Patsy, sorry to wake you. It's Faith."
Fully awake, even though it was only 6:30, Patsy Avery got out of bed and walked into the hall, away from her sleeping husband.
"What's wrong? I can hear it in your voice. What's happened?"
"I think I may need you; that is, I think I may need a lawyer."
"Don't say another word. I'm on a cell phone. Get over here -- or do you want me to come to you?"
"I'll come, but I'll have to leave in time to get ready for church."
"Heavens above," Patsy said mockingly, "I certainly wouldn't want to be responsible for the minister's wife missing the service."
Faith said good-bye without either laughing or responding to the quip with one of her own.
Things must be very bad.
Patsy pulled a dressing gown over her large frame and debated whether to awaken Will. He was a lawyer, too. She'd wait and ask Faith.
She went downstairs to the kitchen, pausing at the thermostat to hike it up several degrees. It was October, and she knew that by New England standards she shouldn't even have the heat on until the first snowstorm forced a grudging acknowledgment that it could be a mite nippy out. She went back and flicked it again, hearing the furnace respond with a satisfying rumble. She was from New Orleans, and as far as she was concerned, it started getting cold up north just about the time you thought summer might finally have arrived. Damn cold.
The days were getting shorter and by the end of the month daylight saving time would end. It would be dark when they got home from work. It was dark now, but an early-morning dark already starting to thin to gray. The birdswere up and creating their usual bedlam. Traffic noise didn't bother her, yet when they'd left the city for bucolic Aleford, it had taken months for Patsy to learn to sleep through this avian chorus.
Her eye fell on the calendar hanging near the phone. There would be a full moon tonight. The house gave an appropriate groan. Just the wood expanding and contracting, the Realtor had hastened to explain when a bansheelike wail accompanied their ascent up the attic stairs. Patsy didn't believe in ghosts, especially northern ghosts. She chuckled to herself, remembering her mother's comment: "Don't worry, honey, from what I've heard, those old Yankees don't like giving space to tenants who don't pay any rent."
Patsy had spent most of the fall traveling back and forth to the Midwest on a case, returning from the latest trip only on Friday. She and Will had spent the day before getting reacquainted -- and that did not include a trip to the market -- but she knew Will would never let them run out of coffee beans, and their freezer was always full of food. She quickly brewed a large pot, then dug around for some of the sticky buns her mother-in-law regularly sent up, along with vats of gumbo and the occasional sweet-potato pie. Faith Fairchild wasn't just the minister's wife but also a successful caterer. Besides a whole lot of other things in common, she and Patsy shared the sincere belief that food was an antidote to misfortune, easing the pain as well as loosening the tongue.
Why on earth would Faith need a lawyer? A criminal lawyer? Patsy worked mostly with juveniles, but she kept her hand in with a few adult cases now and then. She put the rolls in the microwave to defrost and poured herself a cup of coffee. Despite the urgency in Faith's voice, Patsy knew it would take her a while to get to the house, although they lived within walking distance. The parsonage was one of the white clapboard houses tidily arranged around the Aleford village green, a hop, skip, and a jump through the old burying ground to the First Parish Church, where the Reverend Thomas Fairchild held forth. The Averys' move from Boston's South End last year had taken them to one of Aleford's "modern" architectural offerings, a large Victorian on a side street off the green. But Faith wouldn't be able simply to walk out the door. She was a woman with responsibilities.
Patsy stood at the kitchen window, holding the oversized cup in both hands, bringing the fragrant steaming liquid to her mouth. Still too hot to drink. She turned off the overhead light she'd switched on when she'd entered the room and looked outdoors. The tomato plants, blackened in late September by an unusually early frost, and other horticultural detritus filled a rectangular plot in the back comer of the yard. Neither Will nor she had had time to put the garden to sleep, as they whimsically expressed it in these parts. Patsy hadn't even had a chance to harvest the green tomatoes. Dipped in cornmeal and fried, they were one of Will's favorite vegetables. How did the man stay as thin as a rail? She smiled reminiscently, savoring the day before. He didn't want a skinny woman, thank God. Next year, she'd make sure she harvested the tomatoes or, if she had to be away, leave a reminder for Will. It had obviously slipped his mind. He was even busier than she was. No, she wouldn't wake her husband unless there was a very good reason.
It was almost day now, and she had a sudden impulse to go outside and sit on the bench next to the bluestone path that wound its way through the yard. Will had given her a fountain for her birthday, turned off now. The grasses surrounding it, bleached out, dry, and swaying ever so slightly on the morning air, looked beautiful. But Faith would be here soon, and besides, there was the cold.The Body in the Moonlight. 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
Faith Fairchild is catering an event when one of the guests dies from apparent poisoning. This, of course, frees up some of her time to investigate not only the murder but also to investigate the source of allegations against the school principal. It's a clever plot, but I'll admit that I had it figured out long before Faith did. A visit with Faith is like visiting an "old friend." I haven't read her series in order, but I've enjoyed almost all of the installments. I was a little disappointed that her friend Pix didn't figure in this one more prominently because one of my favorites in the series remains to be The Body in the Fjord in which the action revolves around Pix. Recommended for the nice "cozy" escape.
There was not one brain cell stimulating page to be found in the entire book.
Katherine Hall Page's "cozy" mysteries have been getting successively darker and more depressing starting with "The Body in the Bookcase" where Ms Page's introduction explained how she was victimized by a recent home invasion. Faith Fairchild is no longer fun to read and might benefit from Prozac. (Aleford might not approve, but some of Faith's fans would like to see her get rid of the depression she has been in for the 3 most recent books.) Please bring the old Faith back to life.
In Aleford, Massachusetts, an already fully occupied Faith Fairchild and her catering business are drafted to provide the food for an upcoming church fund-raiser. As the wife of the minister, Faith agrees to help. However, the daily alterations to the murder mystery theme by the party planner Paula Pringle frustrates the caterer. At the event everything seems to be going well except Faith feels jealous watching her husband Tom dance cheek to cheek with Gwen Lord. Still, the event is working until dessert is served and Gwen keels over dead. Someone taking advantage of the ammeretto topping poisoned Gwen. The police rule out the possibility that Faith or her Have Faith employees committed the act, but cannot find a motive. After reading about the homicide in the Globe, Faith knows her business and her professional reputation is at stake. She also realizes that rumors prevail linking Tom with Gwen. Faith begins her own brand of investigation, not yet realizing that her actions place her in danger from a maniac who will kill again. THE BODY IN THE MOONLIGHT is an enjoyable amateur sleuth tale, starring a delightful heroine in her eleventh novel. The story line is fun in a Christie like style that will please both fans of award winning Katherine Hall Page and the great icon. The deeper insight into the relationship between the heroine and her spouse provides a bonus for the long time audience and introduce newcomers to the heroine. Although the motives of the killer require a leap of faith, the well-written cozy still thoroughly entertains the reader. Harriet Klausner