In her thirteen previous Faith Fairchild mysteries, Katherine Hall Page has proven to be one of the most beloved and masterful writers of the village mystery. But when caterer Faith Fairchild's husband's job takes the family out of peaceful Aleford, Massachusetts, and into greater Boston, death rears its ugly head in the big city as well.
Fall is in the air its crisp chill hinting at the approaching holiday season yet Faith Fairchild's minister husband, Tom, is not in a festive mood. His job has become routine, and his parish seems to care more about church gossip than worship or service, leaving him doubting his own effectiveness. So when the opportunity to teach for a semester at Harvard's Divinity School comes up, he leaps at the chance . . . but Faith is reluctant. After all, this New York City girl has just gotten used to life in Aleford and now she has to move? But soon Faith relents, and within months the family has settled happily into a large, old home in historic Cambridge, just across the river from Boston.
Faith is shocked when she runs into an old boyfriend in downtown Boston. Thirteen years before, Richard Morgan had swept Faith off her feet, then disappeared. But the intelligent, handsome man's return is a happy one for Faith as their friendship is renewed.
Back in Cambridge, though, something is amiss in the temporary Fairchilds' residence.
Faith discovers a diary hidden in the attic by a woman living there in 1946. It reveals unspeakable horror, and soon dark secrets seem to permeate every room. Richard Morgan has secrets of his own, too, and Faith is caught up in solving the mysteries . . . with a murdererlurking a little too close to home.
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
The Body in the Attic
A Faith Fairchild Mystery
Over the years, Faith Fairchild had occasionally let herself imagine what it would be like to meet Richard Morgan again. But nothing like this had ever crossed her mind.
Richard Morgan. They had had a heady whirlwind affair in the waning days of the self-indulgent eighties, meeting just before Christmas and parting before the New Year. They were both living in Manhattan -- the perfect backdrop for romance, especially during the holiday season. And they were both single. Children, mortgages, gray hair were all things that happened to other people -- older people.
Faith had been on a city bus returning to Have Faith, the catering firm she'd started that fall. Richard had taken the seat next to hers, and as the other passengers boarded, the strains of a Salvation Army rendition of "Good King Wenceslas" filtered through the open door. Richard had started humming along, Faith smiled, and he began to sing -- he had a pleasant tenor voice and an even more pleasant appearance: tall, dark brown hair, and very blue eyes. "I only know the one verse," he'd told her, and she'd confessed the same. They'd talked, and he'd almost missed his stop. When he left, he'd said, "Want to trade cards? I might suddenly remember the rest of 'Good King Wenceslas' and wouldn't know where to find you." She'd handed hers over with her own line: "True. Or you might need a caterer."
Standing in front of her now, Richard Morgan did need a caterer. In fact, he needed a meal. They were at Oak Street House in Boston, a shelter for homeless men, and Richard had just slid his tray in front of Faith, a volunteer, so she could hand him a bowl of beef stew. Stunned, she stood with the ladle in one hand, the half-filled bowl in the other. The last time she'd seen him, they'd been at the Top of the Sixes, that elegant bygone Gotham hot spot at 666 Fifth Avenue. They'd drunk champagne, Perrier-Jouët, and the lights of the city had sparkled about them like jewelry from Tiffany. Richard was drinking coffee now. A thick mug rested next to two packaged rolls on his tray. Faith started to speak, then stopped as he put his finger to his lips, shaking his head slightly.
"Hey, lady, wake up! You gonna gimme some stew or what?" The man next to Richard pushed him aside. Hastily, Faith filled the bowl and passed it over to Richard. Their hands touched briefly. His nails were dirty and his skin looked chapped from the cold. She filled another bowl -- and another. It had been thirteen years since they'd said good-bye.
"You're kidding, right?" Faith said to her husband, the Reverend Thomas Fairchild.
But she knew he wasn't, and he confirmed it.
"I know it all sounds very sudden, but we wouldn't go until the end of January. That's almost two months away. Classes start on the thirtieth."
"I don't understand why you can't teach the course and commute from here."
Here was Aleford, Massachusetts, a small town west of Boston, where the reverend held sway at the First Parish Church and to which locale he had lured his bride, Faith Sibley, almost ten years earlier. Faith, born and bred in the Big Apple, had had a thriving catering business and had been loathe to leave it for the bucolic orchards of New England, but she had fallen head over heels in love with Tom. That meant "whither thou goest," and she did. If you had told her at that time that in the future she would be protesting a move from Aleford to Cambridge, Massachusetts, a veritable metropolis, two words would have sufficed to express her feelings: No way. Yet here she was, raising an army of objections over what would be a temporary move, a sabbatical.
Tom was sitting across from her in one of the two wing chairs that flanked the living room fireplace. They'd tucked five-year-old Amy into bed, then, an hour later, eight-year-old Ben. Faith had been looking forward to having Tom home for the evening -- no meetings, and maybe some bed for themselves. She'd been surprised when he said he had something he wanted to talk over with her, then slightly alarmed when he downed a healthy slug of brandy before speaking. She sipped hers slowly, figuring she might need it.
"I could teach the course and commute, but Idon't want to." He sounded ever so slightly petulant, and, more certainly, blunt. "It's not just the course, although that's what started the whole thing -- having lunch with Ralph and his asking me if I knew anyone who could pinchhit for the spring semester. The guy who was supposed to do it has to have knee-replacement surgery or something like that. He can't postpone -- "
"Wait a minute." Faith put her snifter down. "You had lunch with Ralph over two weeks ago. Are you telling me that you've known about all this since then? That you've been thinking about it and never said a word to me?"
Tom put his glass down, too, and folded his arms across his chest. Faith immediately did the same. If he wanted body language, she'd give him body language. For a moment, they stared at each other like Russian dancers before the balalaikas started.
"I didn't want to raise the issue until I had something definite to propose. I didn't see any reason to upset you unnecessarily," explained Tom, speaking coolly.
But that's not us, Faith said to herself. We tell -- told -- each other everything.
Instead of speaking her mind, she let the anger just below the surface break through and push away her regret. "And why were you so sure I'd be upset? Because you're proposing taking the kids out of school for four months? Because you've assumed I can go back and forth to the catering kitchen from Cambridge, without consulting me?The Body in the Attic
A Faith Fairchild Mystery. 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's husband, Rev. Thomas Fairchild, is discontent with his life as a pastor and takes a sabbatical to teach at Harvard Divinity School. This moves the family to Cambridge, MA, temporarily. They stay in another professor's home while he is away. It is a nice large house with lots of antique furniture. But that is the problem with their two small children. Plus Faith does not get good vibes from the nursery on the third floor.
Faith helps out at the soup kitchen one day and runs into an old flame from her past. She agrees to meet him, but things are not always what they seem.
When her children are playing in an old wardrobe, a diary is found. Faith reads it and begins to work at unraveling the secrets of the house.
But can she do so without endangering herself or her family?
I enjoy this series. Faith is a fun character. She doesn't do much catering in this book. I did enjoy when she went to a party and commented on the catering. Really saw it from a different view point.
I was a little disconcerted with the lack of communication between Faith and Tom in this book. I think it added to the mystery of some of the events, but I was surprised by it.
I look forward to reading more in this series. I highly recommend this book and series.
to deliver a good read, but this was not my favorite. The diary sections were the most compelling I've read from Ms. Page in a while (makes me wonder if she shouldn't venture out into other genres?), and the characters in the diary captivated my imagination. I couldn't wait for Faith to pick up the diary and begin reading again. However, I agree with other reviewers that the reader is inevitably disappointed by the lack of resolution between Faith and Tom. Faith really seems to struggle with questions about fidelity (both on her and Tom's), and there really is no strong conclusion, other than the lesson learned by the diary (you cheat, you give birth to illegitimate baby, you die in imprisonment???). This book could have used a much stronger finale, and the story is a bit darker than usual for Ms. Page, but still worth a read for her fans.
I looked forward to reading this book. I thought that there would be focus on Tom's need to make changes and the difficulty for Faith to change from an environment that had become comfortable and reflected the woman that she was now. I was amazed at the quick fix at the end of the book for a marital relationship with secrets of profound impact for each spouse. She communicated with great trust with her girl friends but didn't even mention her old boyfriend or the disturbing diary she had found. This diary effected her deeply; didn't Tom notice and if he did, wouldn't an experienced pastor want to understand what was happening? This is probably why I felt irritated at the excursions into menu planning! Who really cares about the details of the menu; Faith needs to worry about the details of her marriage. I enjoyed the mystery of the diary. The connection made between that mystery and the one surrounding her old boyfriend, however, was a bit of a stretch.
Rev. Thomas Fairchild seems to be going through a mid-life crisis. At least that is what his wife, Faith, believes. Understanding he needs a break she agrees to a temporary move to Cambridge, MA, even though she did NOT like the way Thomas went about telling her. Faith and their two children will housesit for Professor Ted Robinson while Thomas teaches a semester at the Harvard Divinity School. ..................... While working at a homeless shelter, Faith comes face-to-face with an old boyfriend, Richard Morgan. Richard claims that he is not really homeless, but doing research for a book. Then Faith finds a diary in the old house's attic. The diary is from a past resident of the house, a miserable wife who had been virtually a prisoner in the house by her husband. The more Faith reads, the more curious she becomes. And there is still someone alive, today, who does not want the information in the diary to get out. ................... **** Sections are choppy, especially toward the beginning of the book, and I found myself getting confused. But it soon smoothed out and became a great mystery. To me, the novel was like reading an older version of the Nancy Drew series, a clean mystery with only a touch of real danger. All-in-all, readers will find this one to be a great way to spend an afternoon of light reading. ****