Satisfying her hunger for epicurean adventure in the French provinces, small town caterer and minister's wife Faith Fairchild decides to throw the perfect dinner party. But during cleanup after the last guest has departed her gastronomical triumph, she encounters something neither expected nor welcome: a dead body lying in her vestibule. Unfortunately it doesn't help la belle americaine's credibility when the corpse vanishes before the local gendarmes arrive. But Faith realizes that, though the police refuse to take her seriously, a killer just might. And if she doesn't get to the bottom of this fiendish French conundrum, Faith's recent successful feast could end up being her last.
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
There are many ghosts in the city of Lyon. Some appear at twilight on thePlace Bellecour when a couple strolling across the large, open square may findthe shadows suddenly deepened, the breeze cooled by the memory of the guillotinethat once filled the gardens with cries for blood
Other ghosts wait until the city is dark and different noises fill the traboules,the long, ancient passageways snaking down from the Croix Rousse colline to thequais below. These are the sounds of the silk workers, hungry, exhausted, leavingthe clatter of the looms to carry the richly glowing brocades to the waitingships.
Sometimes, the night watchman at the Musée des BeauxArts thinks he hearsnuns chanting, looks out the window into the ancient cloister, notes the rustlingleaves in the birch trees, and quickly crosses himself.
Then there are the ghosts that are not ghosts, the shadows that move rapidly upthe steep stairs from the Place des Terreaux and vanish into the traboules. Thenext day, a child hastening to school may kick aside an empty syringe, stumbleacross some broken glass, smell the night smells, and emerge gratefully into themorning air.
To know the city is to know all the ghosts.
Faith Sibley Fairchild waited impatiently for the fight to change on the Quai St.Antoine so she could get to the open-air market on the other side of the street.Several times, she was tempted to dart across the traffic, yet after a week inLyon, she had not only learned which baker had the best bread but that Frenchdrivers would not hesitate to mow you down if you put so much as a toe in the wayof their Renaults and Peugeots respectable-looking individuals hurling quiteunrespectable phrases out the window in the process. It was just like Boston, infact.
She swung her empty straw market basket, her panier, idly back and forth. Despitethe delay, she felt a lovely sense of well-being. Her husband, the ReverendThomas Fairchild, was happily engaged in work; her three-year-old son, Benjamin,was happily playing at nursery school; she'd happily made it through fourenervating months of pregnancy and still wanted to have a baby; and-mostimportant of all-she was in France for a month. It had been a wonderful incentivefor getting over morning sickness, which in Faith's case came like clockwork atdinnertime. The idea of passing up the fabled food of Lyon was unthinkable.Whatever the reason, this pregnancy had been better than the first, or ratherless worse, and now all her appetites were back.
And at four months, she did not have the sensation of two bodies occupying thesame and equal amount of space at one time, which was contrary to somebody's law,and, recalling the experience now, Faith felt, should surely be against whoever's it was. Four months was a little gift from nature, a hiatus ofsorts, to allow prospective parents to paint the nursery, read thirty or fortybooks of baby names, and, if so gifted or inclined Faith was neither knit abootie or two before settling in for the long stretch. It was a tune when youthought of soft little bottoms and tiny kissable fingers, not dirty diapers orsleepless nights. Wellbeing was exactly right. She felt well right down to hertoenails and even slightly mellow, edges blurred. This was a very different Faithfrom the one normally known to her near and dear. That Faith's crisp judgmentsabout the world and its inhabitants were swiftly uttered more often than not. Nowthey were hidden in some warm, fluffy corner of her brain. She was enjoying thiskinder, gender state for the moment, secure in the knowledge that it wouldn'tlast long and soon she'd be back in full form.
It was a long fight and the traffic continued to stream by. Faith's mind wanderedback to the February afternoon when Tom had come home with the news that he hadan opportunity to spend a month in France working on his dissertation. She'd beenhuddled on the living room sofa, wrapped in a down comforter, trying to convinceherself that she had made a wise choice when she left a glittering career as oneof Manhattan's most successful caterers to be a parson's wife and mother of oneand two-ninths children in the small (and at present very cold) village ofAleford, Massachusetts. Torn, rosy-cheeked from the frosty air, his thick reddishbrown hair hatless, his coat unbuttoned, had come bounding through the frontdoor, lustily singing "La Marseillaise" at the top of his voice. The sight of allthat energy was so galling, Faith had wanted to throw something at him. But therehad been nothing at hand and it would have required too much effort to get up.
He'd grabbed her and cried, "Faith, ma chérie, we're going to France! Soon!April, if I can swing it!"
Tom had spent an undergraduate year in Paris, developing a fluency in thelanguage and a permanent love affair with the country. He'd also acquired anumber of friends, and if he was currently no longer in touch with a certainSimone, he was with Paul Leblanc, a graduate student who'd lived in the samepension. It was a letter from Paul, now in the history department at theUniversité de Lyon, that Tom was waving ecstatically as he told Faith of theproposal. Paul had learned he could bring in visiting scholars to give a lectureor two, offering them a small honorarium and the chance to do research at theuniversity in return. He'd known Tom had been struggling to finish his work onthe effects of the Albigensian heresy in twelfthcentury France on subsequentChristian practice and he...
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
I was excited to take a trip with Faith Fairchild and her husband Tom to France but when I got there I was disappointed and longed to be back in Aleford, MA. I didn't like the story line of prostitutes and street-people. I took 5 years of French many years ago but it was tiresome to have to read all of the French phrases. I do like this series and in fact have given the books I've read 4 and 5 stars. Hopefully this won't be the first book in the series you read because every other book is so much better than this.
Fourth in the Faith Fairchild cosy mystery series. Faith's husband Tom spent a semester in France while a college student and loved it. One of the friends he made while there suggests he come to Lyon for a month and use the university library to complete research for his Ph.D. Faith, lover of good food, is thrilled about the trip, even though it means traveling with a three-year old and while she is pregnant with her second child. She and Tom have a delightful time with the people and the food, at least until Faith finds the body of a beggar in the building where they are staying. By the time the police come, however, the body is gone. The beggar seems to be back in his usual place the next morning, but Faith believes it is an imposter.So far this series has yet to disappoint. The setting for this one is particularly nice.