Friday, May 6, 2016


The Body in the Wardrobe

by Katherine Hall Page

The Body in the Wardrobe by Katherine Hall Page
Minster’s wife, caterer, and part-time sleuth Faith Fairchild pairs up with Sophie Maxwell, last seen in Body in the Birches and now a newlywed living in historic Savannah, Georgia, where Sophie crosses paths with murder.

Attorney Sophie Maxwell has come to Savannah to be with her new husband, Will. But nothing throws cold water on a hot relationship faster than a dead body. Worse for Sophie, no one believes the body she knows she saw is real, Will is spending an awful lot of time in Atlanta on a case he claims is urgent, and she’s been tasked with house hunting for them with his former sweetheart, who Sophie can’t help but suspect wishes Sophie would return to her Yankee roots!

Fortunately, Sophie has a good friend in Faith Fairchild. With teenage Amy being bullied by mean girls and husband Tom contemplating a major life change that will affect all the Fairchilds, Faith is eager for distraction in the form of some sleuthing. In between discussions of newlywed agita, surprising Savannah customs and, of course, fabulous low country food, Faith and Sophie will pair up to unmask a killer!

Book Details:

Genre: Cozy Mystery Published by: William Morrow Publication Date: April 26th 2016 Number of Pages: 256 ISBN: 0062439502 (ISBN13: 9780062439505) Series: Faith Fairchild Mystery Purchase Links: Amazon Barnes & Noble Goodreads

Her limbs were frozen in place as she stared down at the man, a dark shape against the rich colors of the Oriental carpet on the floor. It was impossible to believe. A body in the wardrobe?
She opened her mouth, took a deep breath, but couldn’t make a sound. And then as if a starter’s gun had gone off, she tore down the stairs and found herself in the kitchen, staring at a door she knew was locked. Just as all the doors were.
Her phone! She looked down at her bare legs. The phone was in the bedroom. She’d taken it out of her skirt. The skirt she was about to hang in the wardrobe. The wardrobe where the dead man had been. Waiting for her to open the door. 
Think, Sophie, think! She snatched the landline receiver from the counter, punching in 9-1-1, turned the lock, and wrenched the door open, stumbling into the cool night air. Relief started to flood over her until she realized the killer could be hiding behind the stacks of lumber and bags of cement that filled that garden at the back of the house. Quickly she darted to the path surrounding the house and the gate beyond. She pushed down on the handle; it opened easily.
There was no front yard, only a small patch of ivy with a cast iron planter at the foot of the stairs leading to the front door. Gloria had filled the urn with red cyclamen, evergreens, and pinecones. Sophie moved across to the square and stood under a streetlight. No cars were passing and no one was on the sidewalks, although lights were on in most of the houses.
Her call was picked up. Listening to the voice on the other end saying “this call is being recorded,” Sophie struggled to clear her throat, finally gasping out, “There’s a dead man in my bedroom. He’s been stabbed.”
The remarkably calm-sounding woman on the line responded by asking Sophie’s name, the address, and if she was still inside the house. Sophie answered, her voice getting stronger. Her heart began to slow and her mind began to clear.
“Can you confirm the identity of the dead man?”
“No, I don’t know.” Her thoughts swirled again. Who was he? One of the crew working on the house? She was almost positive she had never seen him before, yet it had all happened so fast she hadn’t gotten more than a glimpse of his face.
“There is a squad car in your area and will be with you immediately,” the dispatcher said. “Are you alone?”
“Yes,” Sophie answered. “I’m alone.” Very alone.
But not for long.
Two police cars, lights flashing, pulled up. Officers wasted no time rushing into the house—through the back when Sophie told them she thought the front was locked. A female officer took Sophie into one of the cars and put a blanket around her. Sophie hadn’t realized she was shivering until she felt the warmth. She was able to answer questions—her name again and a description of the deceased—“At least six feet tall. Heavyset. Long dark hair. Greasy. Dark clothing. Maybe jeans.” She closed her eyes, trying to see it again. Not wanting to see it again.
“Can you describe the weapon?” The officer was busy taking notes.
“A knife with a long, thick black handle. I couldn’t see the blade. It was . . .” Sophie felt her throat close and stopped.
“That’s fine. You’re doing just fine, honey. Is there someone we can call? Family?”
Sophie almost laughed. An hysterical sort of laugh. Her accent had betrayed her. The question mark after “family” could have been drawn in the air with neon it was so vivid. She wasn’t from here.
“My husband is in Atlanta working. This is my mother-in-law’s house.”
Neighbors had gathered a safe distance away from the action. Sophie could see them in small knots speculating on what piece of Savannah news was unfolding. She was overwhelmed with fatigue. The fatigue that had haunted her since the night of the party. She wanted Will. Will, her husband, her beloved. And she wanted him now. Tears gathered in the corners of her eye and blurred the surreal scene outside the squad car window.
The door opened and the officer who had been the first to take off for the house slid next to Sophie.
“Mrs. Maxwell?”
Sophie wiped her eyes with her hand and sat up straight, clutching the blanket around her. “Yes?”
“You did say that the man fell out of the wardrobe in the bedroom at the top of the stairs in the front of the house?”
“Yes, I was putting my clothes away and he . . .” Her voice gave out again for a moment, but she regained it. “He came tumbling right out and I could see he was dead.”
The officer’s voice softened. “There’s no one in the house, dead or alive, darlin’.”

It’s always a pleasure to address readers directly through guest posts and blogs when a new book comes out. Many thanks for the opportunity.

It is hard for me to believe that The Body in the Wardrobe is the 23rd in the Faith Fairchild series and my 30th book overall. Some of you have been with me on this wonderful ride since the beginning and some are joining me now. Welcome all! Now about this book.

“I Fall in Love Too Easily”. It’s a favorite song composed in 1944 by the great Jules Styne, lyrics by the great Sammy Cahn, recorded with piercing emotion first by Sinatra and notably followed over the years by Miles Davis, Dionne Warwick, Linda Ronstadt, Chet Baker, Tony Bennett, and many others. The sentiment is bittersweet, but when I hum it to myself, I’m not feeling sad. It’s always been a characteristic. (Oh, yes, I’m talking about you, Barry Z., third grade crush). I do fall in love easily, maybe too easily and am glad for it.

 While writing The Body in the Birches, I fell in love with the character, Sophie Maxwell. While visiting a friend several years ago who had moved to Savannah, I fell in love with the city. The Body in the Wardrobe is the result.
First Sophie.

In the last book, she personifies the song lyrics, appearing in Chapter One with a broken heart after falling in love disastrously fast. At the end, she is in much better shape. I found as I created her that I was thinking of Faith Fairchild as she was in the early books of the series and the notion of pairing the two women again here in Wardrobe, a kind of sequel, was hard to resist. Both were outsiders as new brides, one in the North; one in the South, but their experience is much the same. They have to learn what is essentially a new vocabulary and since this is a murder mystery, the process is complicated by a body or two—or three. Both have husbands with jobs involving secrets they can’t share with their wives—a member of the clergy and a private investigator have to be tight-lipped. Both have in-law issues. Faith’s sister-in-law causes major problems for her before and after the nuptials. Sophie faces more serious in-law troubles.
Unlike Faith, however, Sophie has someone to turn to for help—and it’s Faith. It was a pleasure to write about their friendship, celebrating the bonds between women, and men too, no matter what age, truly one of life’s great joys.

And it was friendship that took me to Savannah. I had been to Virginia, the Carolinas, Louisiana, and other parts of the South; but never Georgia, specifically Savannah. Then Meg moved there, so three of us started going down to see her—no chore to leave winter behind, never a chore to be with Meg. That first trip, the four of us explored Savannah as newcomers with our hostess a newly seasoned guide.
Savannah is a very walkable city and we walked. I picked out the house I wanted, not unlike the one Sophie gets for Christmas and learned which Square had which statue. We spent many hours in Bonaventure Cemetery and it would not be a trip to Savannah without going out to Tybee Island.
Each time in the city has been just as special as the first visit. Going back to a place one loves is always a treat—checking out the familiar, finding the new. It has the same feel as rereading favorite books.

When it comes to Savannah, subsequent trips meant eating all the delicious food described in these pages—and discovering more dishes. On my most recent one, the culinary highlight was attending Chef Joe Randall’s “The Dinner Party, A Southern Cooking Class Lecture & Demonstration”. Go to his web site: and be amazed at his credentials—and his food!
We sat back, sipped wine, and watched the chef and his wife Barbara prepare shrimp cakes with herb mustard sauce; a salad of beets, Smithfield ham, Bermuda onions and Georgia peanuts on Bibb lettuce; Southern fried quail with gravy, mashed potatoes and green beans; and finally sweet potato pie with praline sauce. We had been warned to eat lightly during the day and come hungry. With such a long growing season, all the places where we ate showcased the chef’s regard for fresh, local ingredients. And at the cooking school, you also get a running commentary that is both an education and theater.

One excursion to Savannah was marked by an evening at the Jepson Center for the Arts, part of the Telfair museums, with John Berendt, author of Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil.  It was a party and a chance to watch Savannahians doing what comes naturally. The food was catered by Clary’s CafĂ© and the music—Johnny Mercer of course—was provided by Jeremy Davis and the Equinox Trio (thank you for the dance, Archie!). It was an extraordinary experience to look out architect Moshe Safdie's soaring wall of glass watching Telfair Square move from dusk to dark while the inside glowed.

In all my books, place is almost as important as character and plot. I am in love with all of them—the fictitious town of Aleford somewhere west of Boston that came to mind so many years ago; always Manhattan, Sanpere, the beloved made-up island off the coast of Maine; Rome, the Eternal City; and now Savannah. Yes, I fall in love too easily—thank goodness.

In addition to her Faith Fairchild adult mystery series, Katherine Hall Page has also published for middle grade and YA readers as well as a collection of short stories, Small Plates (2014), and a series cookbook, Have Faith in your Kitchen (Orchises Press). She has been awarded Agathas for Best First, Best Novel, and Best SS and also was nominated for additional Agathas, an Edgar, Macavity, Mary Higgins Clark and the Maine Writers & Publishers Alliance Literary Award for Crime Fiction. She is the recipient of Malice Domestic 28th’s Lifetime Achievement Award. She lives in Maine and Massachusetts.

From the Mean Girls of middle school in Massachusetts to far more senior and sinister sisters in Savannah, this colorfully descriptive addition to the Faith Fairchild mystery series will keep you intrigued and involved page to page. I felt we really get two books in one.

If you have not read previous books in this series, the number of characters may be a bit intimidating at first. Don't let that put you off. If you appreciate good southern fiction, if you enjoy delicious food and drink along with your mysteries, if you want to armchair travel and picture the wonders of Georgia around the holidays, you will find much in this book to love.
And if all you are after is a fun adventure with a bit of Southern Snipe, you will be pleased too.

Author Bio:

[caption id="attachment_2867" align="left" width="150"]Katherine Hall Page
Photograph by Jean Fogelberg[/caption]
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.”
The recipient of the Lifetime Achievement Award at Malice Domestic, she has been nominated for the Edgar Award, the Mary Higgins Clark Award, and the Macavity Award. She lives in Lincoln, Massachusetts, and Deer Isle, Maine, with her husband.

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1 comment:

  1. Thank you for sharing your review! It makes me want to read it now!


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