The Body in the Birches
by Katherine Hall Page
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The Body in the Birches: A Faith Fairchild Mystery
22nd in Series
Setting – Maine
Publisher: William Morrow (May 12, 2015)
Hardcover: 256 pages
E-Book ASIN: B00MTS3MEW
At home on Sanpere Island, Maine, caterer and amateur sleuth Faith Fairchild discovers that real estate can be murder, especially when it’s all in the family, in this twenty-third book in the popular mystery series.
The Fourth of July is one of the hottest on record and even the breeze off Penobscot Bay can’t seem to cool things down for Faith Fairchild and the rest of the folks on Sanpere Island. But the fireworks are just beginning. After the celebrations are over, Faith discovers a body in the woods near The Birches, an early twentieth-century “cottage.”
The body is identified as The Birches’ housekeeper, who seems to have succumbed to a heart attack. The death is only one of the dramatic events upending the historic house. A family gathering has been called to decide who will inherit the much loved, and very valuable, estate that has been in the Proctor family for generations. With this much money involved, it’s just a matter of time before trouble arises.
Faith is juggling her own family problems. Her teenage son, Ben, has started a new job as a dishwasher at The Laughing Gull Lodge—learning things that could land him in very hot water. And her daughter Amy is worried about her new friend, Daisy Proctor. Daisy is terrified—convinced that someone is trying to eliminate her mother from getting a share of The Birches. To protect her children, Faith has to find a possible murderer—before he strikes too close to her own home.
This is the kind of story I expect from Katherine Hall Page, a murder mystery with tons of family drama!
This is one of my favorite cozy series. When a series lasts this long the characters are like old friends. Faith and Tom’s children have grown up right before our eyes. It is hard to believe Ben is a teenager, but Tom and Faith seem exactly the same. I would love to have them as neighbors!
We again travel to Maine with the Fairchilds and it is not your typical family vacation. The Proctor family has a home there too, The Birches, and a death in the family means a decision must be made on who will inherit the property. All interested parties have been called to spend the month of July there and then a decision will be made by the family’s oldest member. All the family has gathered to curry favor with Uncle Paul hoping they will be his choice. It isn’t long before the housekeeper is found dead and other “accidents” take place and somehow Faith finds herself right in the middle of the drama.
Faith is also facing some things on her own. Her kids are growing up and she is having a hard time with that plus Tom had to head back home when his mother is rushed to the hospital, leaving Faith on her own on Sanpere Island.
I really enjoyed this story because it focuses on two families but blends them together perfectly. There are several characters and new readers to this series may have a problem keeping them all straight. Many reside in Aleford or have an Aleford connection so they have appeared in previous stories. All these characters give us plenty of suspects too and I was a bit surprised by the ending.
It is hard to keep things fresh in a long running series like this and I truly thought the series had ended with The Body in the Piazza. I was thrilled when I found out about this latest installment. I hope we have many more stories featuring the Fairchild family ahead.
If you are new to this series you really should start at the beginning for maximum reading pleasure.
Katherine Hall Page is the author of twenty-two 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.” In addition, she has been nominated for the Edgar Award, the Mary Higgins Clark Award, and the Macavity Award. She lives in Massachusetts and Maine with her husband.
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Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from the publisher. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. Receiving a complimentary copy in no way reflected my review of this book. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255 : “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”