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The Body In The Bonfire [Mass Market Paperback]

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

Jan. 16 2003 Faith Fairchild Mysteries (Book 12)

Caterer and small-town minister's wife Faith Fairchild might never have accepted the job teaching a course on Cooking for Idiots at Mansfield Academy had it not been for Daryl Martin. An African-American student at the prestigious prep school, Daryl has lately become the target of a series of vicious and anonymous racial attacks -- and Faith is determined to put an end to the injustice. But Mansfield, she finds, is a seething cauldron of secrets, academic in-fighting, and unspoken rules that complicate her task. When someone tampers with her classroom cooking ingredients -- and then the remains of her prime suspect are discovered smoldering in a campus bonfire -- she realizes that a monstrous evil is stalking both Daryl and the school. And suddenly Faith's own life is in serious jeopardy as well!


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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.

--This text refers to the Hardcover edition.

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.

--This text refers to the Hardcover edition.

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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
Format:Hardcover
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
Format:Hardcover
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
Format:Hardcover
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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