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Agatha-winner Page's 15th Faith Fairchild mystery (after 2004's The Body in the Attic) offers the usual tantalizing mix—an attractive setting, great characters, good food and murder most foul. Faith, an upscale caterer, and Tom, her minister husband, join the extended Fairchild clan to celebrate the birthday of Tom's father, Dick, at the struggling Vermont ski resort of Pine Slopes. The death of an old friend of Dick's, local lawyer Boyd Harrison, from an apparent heart attack while skiing throws a pall over the reunion. The plot thickens as the family gathers. Craig, Dick's athletic youngest son, has a new wife, gorgeous gold digger Glenda; Betsey, Dick's sister, is a micromanaging dictator; Betsey's three children long for a little space to grow and her husband just longs to bow out. Throw in a missing chef, whom Faith is talked into replacing until another can be found, and the granddaughter of the resort's owners, who's going through a goth stage. Heat things up with a body discovered in the water supply of the snow-making machine, and there you have it: a perfect Faith concoction, with recipes.
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Caterer Faith Fairchild gears up for her father-in-law's seventieth birthday celebration at a ski resort in Vermont that the Fairchilds have been visiting for years. Before she can even get her mind around the family pressures, however, she finds a local lawyer's body on the slopes. Then the cook disappears, and she finds her catering skills needed to keep the lodge running. Like Faith's recipes, which range from realistic to flights of Cool Whip fantasy, the tale whipsaws between some fairly straightforward exploration of the kind of fissures any large family might endure and some fairly artificial capering by a crew of straw villains (and villainesses). In between, two marriages break up, one closeted family member comes out, a few teens come to terms with their parents, and a great deal of cooking serves as prop, mainstay, distraction, and solace. A little preachy this time but still worth the trip, especially for series fans. GraceAnne DeCandido
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