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The Body In The Bonfire: A Faith Fairchild Mystery [Hardcover]

Katherine H Page
3.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (7 customer reviews)
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Book Description

Feb. 7 2002 Faith Fairchild Mysteries
"The noose was on his pillow, the dark rope starkly outlined against the crisp linen case ..."Massachusetts caterer and minister's wife Faith Fairchild is back in the twelfth delectable mystery by award-winning author Katherine Hall Page. The incomparable ex-New Yorker's investigative prowess is put to its most stringent test when twisted hatred and blind bigotry become ingredients for murder. THE BODY IN THE BONFIRETaking advantage of the January doldrums in the catering business, Faith goes undercover at Mansfield Academy, a prestigious prep school, after learning about anonymous racist attacks against senior, Daryl Martin. During the school's Project Term, she volunteers to teach Cooking for Idiots, and soon learns more about the darker side of adolescence and the academic in-fighting at Mansfield than she wants to know. Someone, determined to undermine her inquiries, tampers with the ingredients for her cooking demonstrations. Then the incinerated remains of Faith's prime suspect are discovered in the smoldering ashes of the traditional Project Term. It's not mischief but murder!The headmaster's wife, an expert on Russian art... and men; the history teacher with a cultlike following; the loner, junior Zach Cohen, hacker extraordinaire; and Internet obsessed freshman Danny Miller, the son of Faith's best friend and neighbor, are all connected, but how? Faith frantically struggles to make sense of it, all too aware of the killer's deadly presence tracking her every move.It's a race to save Mansfield and her own life.

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From Publishers Weekly

Despite three brutal murders and some ugly racial prejudice in this 12th mystery to feature amateur sleuth Faith Fairchild, Agatha Award-winner Page (The Body in the Belfry, etc.) keeps the tone light as her heroine reflects wittily on the quotidian challenges of being the wife (and daughter) of a clergyman, the mother of two young children and the head of her own catering business. At Mansfield Academy, a not-so-elite boys' boarding school in a small town outside Boston, someone is harassing black student Daryl Martin, a top athlete and scholar. Faith's friend Patsy Avery calls her in to find out who's responsible for the hate-filled e-mail, offensive newspaper clippings and finally a noose left on Daryl's pillow. Under the cover of teaching a cooking class during winter project term, Faith searches for clues. At the same time, students and maintenance crew build a gigantic pyre for the school's annual bonfire. Faith is sure she's identified the harasser, Sloane Buxton, the aristocratic and handsome leader of a campus clique. When Sloane's corpse turns up in the smoldering embers of the bonfire, suspicion falls on Daryl. The harried headmaster, meanwhile, who rescued Mansfield from bankruptcy years before by buying it, has a lot of explaining to do to concerned parents. With recipes of the dishes Faith prepares in her cooking class in an appendix, this whodunit provides fully satisfying fare for a cold winter's night around the fire. Agent, Faith Hamlin.

Copyright 2002 Cahners Business Information, Inc.

From Library Journal

New England caterer Faith Fairchild (The Body in the Moonlight) takes time to teach a cooking class at a nearby boarding school. There, she hopes to uncover the tormentor of a minority student. Unfortunately, human remains turn up after a school bonfire, so her sleuthing takes a dangerous turn. A deservedly popular series.

Copyright 2002 Cahners Business Information, Inc.

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Customer Reviews

3.7 out of 5 stars
3.7 out of 5 stars
Most helpful customer reviews
3.0 out of 5 stars A 3.4 on a scale of 1 to 5, Good not Great Aug. 7 2003
Format:Mass Market Paperback
"The Body in the Bonfire" once again features the indomitable sleuth, Faith Fairchild, minister's wife and suburban Boston caterer by day, Nancy Drew by night.
In this installment, Faith teaches a cooking class at a second or third tier boarding school in her New England town. She has a secret assignment, which is to find out who is sending racial slur messages to the one black student. The school is filled with a cast of colorful characters: a way too preppy good boy/bad boy student, the Russian wife of the headmaster, an intense guru like professor and so on. The plot thickens when someone shows up dead in the school's annual bonfire.
I always enjoy these books. However, I have found-particularly in this one-Hall throws out a lot of cliches. She does not offer much depth in her characters or in her story. For example, most private schools in New England today (even second and third tier ones) have more than one black student (many whose parents pay) as well as a number of Asian, Hispanic and other ethnic and religious minorities. Her depiction of Aleford,the boarding school, does not ring true in the early 00's. In addition, she loves to poke fun at the down-to-earth, Yankee frugality and sensibilities of her neighbors. Yes, her observations were true about 25 years ago. However, most New England towns are filled with a more diverse and sophisticated population in the early 00's than in her books. Finally, while she seems ever so concerned about political correctness throughout the novel vis a vis ethnic and religious minorities, she is beyond condescending to the blue collar female police officer. At the end of the book, Faith offers to help her with her makeup. Please, talk about noblesse oblige.
Still, this book is an enjoyable read.
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4.0 out of 5 stars The Body in the Bonfire Aug. 22 2002
By A Customer
The 12th in the author's chronicles of New England caterer/sleuth Faith Fairchild removes her from the side of her minister husband Tom and their children Amy and Ben for some undercover work in Mansfield Academy, a nearby private boys' high school, where Patsy Avery, Faith's longtime lawyer friend, occasionally teaches. One of her students, junior Daryl Martin, has been the target of racist e-mails, newspaper clippings, and now a noose placed on a pillow. Patsy urges Faith to teach a cooking class at the school and use her detective skills to uncover Daryl's tormenter. Taking the job in the kitchen of Mansfield's Charleton House, Faith holds up a magnifying glass to students and staff ranging from headmaster Robert Harcourt and his flamboyant wife Zoe to games mistress Connie Reed, some oddball professors, and a few rather strange students like slick, handsome Sloane Buxton. As Faith sneakily searches rooms, tries to find out who's tampering with her kitchen ingredients and who has stolen Zoe's precious jewels, Sloane turns up missing, only to be found dead on the school's annual Bonfire Night. It takes another death, a lot more snooping, and the discovery of computer records and a host of uncovered secrets before Faith has all the answers. Clarity and suspense are often lost to slow-moving gossip, but Faith's fans are sure to be pleased with another of the author's always readable stories.
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4.0 out of 5 stars COOKING FOR IDIOTS COOKS UP MURDER! May 24 2002
This is my first visit to the world of Catering Capers with Faith Fairchild and I found it very enjoyable. The book opens in the middle of January when no one is in the mood for social affairs, which in turn makes Faith's catering business less than bustling. So she agrees to go undercover (in the guise of teaching a Cooking For Idiots class) at a boys' prep school to investigate some racist attacks against the school's sole African-American student.
Unfortunately, the only thing her class cooks up is theft and multiple murders - one being that of her prime suspect in the racist attack who turns up well done in a school rally bonfire. But we know all the incidents have to be connected someway. And Faith will figure it all out in the end with some surprising results.
Faith is a very likable heroine - her adventures make for fun reading and her recipes at the end of the book are quite tasty. The Smothered Pork Chops were first rate, but her Peanut Butter Cookies couldn't compare to the ones my mother used to make.
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3.0 out of 5 stars Not great, but not bad either March 19 2002
By A Customer
This latest installment in this series has a lot going for it. It is centered in a New England boarding school peopled with interesting characters, many of whom the author does a better than usual job of portraying. Our intrepid heroine gets lots of opportunities to be intrepid, including engaging in some conduct that is moderately indefensible (such as wholesale room searches). The plot is a bit on the unconvincing side, given that it depends on the confluence of two (and, depending on how you count, maybe three) entirely independent sets of events.
The editing job on this book is also better than usual, with the exception of a couple of name mistakes. (Thomas Moser cherry furniture is fabulous, but the book unhappily corrupts the name to Thomas Mosher, an entity of whom I have never heard.)
The primary down side to this book is that I bought it in hardback and read it in a couple of hours. I would be happier about spending the money for the hardback if the book had supplied a longer period of absorption.
As I said, not a great book, but a pleasant one.
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