Eating Between the Lines
Literary Diversions for Foodies, With Recipes
The Body in the MoonlightA Faith Fairchild Mystery
by Katherine Hall Page
Morrow, 243 pp., $23
Agatha-award-winning author Page's amateur sleuth and caterer Faith Fairchild is on the case again in the eleventh outing of this popular culinary mystery series. In the fall of 2000, we find Faith, her minister husband Tom Fairchild, and their two children happily settled in the bucolic New England village of Aleford, Mass. Tom is the respected pastor of First Parish Church, and Faith has re-established the catering company she founded years earlier in New York City, Have Faith. The church is about to celebrate its 250th anniversary with a big fundraising gala at the stately Ballou House, and Have Faith is catering the event. It's a Roaring Twenties Mystery game party complete with period costumes and several celebrated mystery authors on the guest list. Everything is going fine until Gwen Ford, the lovely young fiancée of the church's musical director, eats a bowl of panna cotta topped with crushed amaretti and falls over dead at the table!
In order to clear her name and save the reputation of her catering business, Faith sets out on her own investigation as to why anyone would poison Gwen Ford and sprinkle arsenic on Faith's panna cotta to do it. She enlists the aid of the various mystery authors who attended the event in hopes they can shed some light on the workings and motives of the criminal mind responsible for the killing. Along the way, Faith encounters an aging local dowager stockpiling dried food in anticipation of Y2K and she gets embroiled in trying to find out who's behind the crank calls and whispering smear campaign aimed at the popular headmaster of the local school. These distractions don't keep her from pursuing the murderer, of course, and as she gets closer to the truth, another body turns up. On Halloween night, Faith finds the murdered girl's boyfriend, Jared Gabriel, dead in the moonlight on her front lawn. It appears to be a message warning Faith off her investigation, but the intrepid amateur sleuth can't stop until she finds all the answers.
The Body in the Moonlight is a pleasant, light read, cast with just enough eccentric characters and red herrings to make the mystery interesting. As in all Page's books, there is a short recipe section in the back, described as excerpts from a work-in-progress titled "Have Faith in Your Kitchen"; the dishes in the recipe section are mentioned in the story but aren't necessarily part of the plot line (no panna cotta recipe). I've tried the Oatmeal Lace Cookies and can vouch that they are divine and a new member of my regular cookie repertoire.
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