The inimitable Faith Fairchild returns in a chilling New England whodunit, inspired by the best Agatha Christie mysteries and with hints of the timeless board game Clue.
For most of her adult life, resourceful caterer Faith Fairchild has called the sleepy Massachusetts village of Aleford home. While the native New Yorker has come to know the region well, she isn’t familiar with Havencrest, a privileged enclave, until the owner of Rowan House, a secluded sprawling Arts and Crafts mansion, calls her about catering a weekend house party.
Producer/director of a string of hit musicals, Max Dane—a Broadway legend—is throwing a lavish party to celebrate his seventieth birthday. At the house as they discuss the event, Faith’s client makes a startling confession. "I didn’t hire you for your cooking skills, fine as they may be, but for your sleuthing ability. You see, one of the guests wants to kill me."
Faith’s only clue is an ominous birthday gift the man received the week before—an empty casket sent anonymously containing a twenty-year-old Playbill from Max’s last, and only failed, production—Heaven or Hell. Consequently, Max has drawn his guest list for the party from the cast and crew. As the guests begin to arrive one by one, and an ice storm brews overhead, Faith must keep one eye on the menu and the other on her host to prevent his birthday bash from becoming his final curtain call.
Full of delectable recipes, brooding atmosphere, and Faith’s signature biting wit, The Body in the Casket is a delightful thriller that echoes the beloved mysteries of Agatha Christie and classic films such as Murder by Death and Deathtrap.
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.
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
This series is a favorite of mine even though I'm reading the books completely out of order at this point. It's funny because I started with the first book like most readers would do and then jumped ahead to the 23rd book in the series. Here I am now having finished the 24th book and even though I've read them out of order, this series has still become a personal favorite of mine. What I love about these books is just the normal, every day feel to them (besides the fact that there is usually a murder or mystery involved). I get so caught up with these characters and their lives - I find it just so fun to read about! This book was different than the other two books that I've read in this series because a murder hasn't actually happened. Instead Faith is asked to investigate and basically help prevent a murder from happening. This book was really fun to read! It had the feel of the game Clue - was it going to be Ms. Scarlett in the study with the candlestick? I loved playing this game when I was younger so I was delighted that this book had that same kind of feel at times. I do feel at times that I'm missing out a bit from not having read the previous books in this series. The author throws out references here and there from those earlier books and it makes me want to have read them all. It doesn't affect my enjoyment of the book overall, I just know that I'm missing things that I wouldn't if I had read those books as well. It sure gives me a reason to work on catching up on this series in 2018! Overall, I found this book to be another enjoyable addition to this mystery series! I really enjoyed the set up for this book and thought that it added a different level of tension compared to other more typical mysteries that I have read. I will say that there were a lot of other different storylines with this book that at first I had a hard time following along with. Halfway through though, I was fully invested in each and eager to see how everything was going to turn out. I would be remiss if I also didn't mention how much I enjoy the references to Faith's cooking in these books. Mysteries that include food seem to be a favorite of mine that I can't get enough of! I wish that I was half as good of a cook as Faith is! I can easily recommend both this series and this book though! I don't plan on waiting too long before I move on to book two in this series! Bottom Line: A solid mystery that added to my love of this series! Disclosure: I received a copy of this book thanks to the publisher and Edelweiss.
VERDICT: Nice plot idea and delicious food, but too slow and too many uninteresting sub plots to make it thoroughly enjoyable. Sleuths can be found anywhere. The one we have here, Faith, is the head of a catering firm. So The Body in the Casket happens to be full of incredible mentions of food, and a few of her recipes are even included at the end of the book. One day, Faith Fairchild receives a special assignment: she is asked to prepare meals for Max Dane’s 3-day birthday party in Massachusetts, for 10 guests. He is a famous Broadway producer and will turn 70. She is also requested to spend the three days at his place. The reason he hired her for this job is not just her culinary skills. He knows she’s a sleuth. And he just received a casket, so he’s convinced one of his guests wants to kill him. I enjoyed the sentence in the epigraph, a quotation by Confucius: Before you embark on a journey of revenge, dig two graves. Perfect to highlight the main theme of this mystery: revenge. I thought that was a neat idea of a plot. The structure is interesting at first: parallel to the narration about Faith’s life the weeks prior to the party, you have passages in italics concerning each of the guests invited. They seem to all have good motives, fueled by desire of revenge for what Max did to their lives. And there were fun references to Rebecca (page 163) and to the game of Cluedo But it didn’t work too well for me. First, I had managed to suspect the killer from chapter 1! Also, the preparations are really too long: the story is 228 pages long, and the party begins only page 156! In the meantime, apart from Faith’s research on the list of guests invited, there are all kinds of really uninteresting dramas going on in Faith’s family, her neighbors, her city. It felt like a page filler for me. As for the last chapter, sounds too much like all’s well that ends well to me. I decided to read this book, the #24 (!) in the Faith Fairchild series, when I noticed the author did receive an Agatha Award for her first one. I suspect the author ran a bit out of breath.