The Body In The Snowdrift: A Faith Fairchild Mystery Hardcover – Apr 14 2005
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From Publishers Weekly
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.
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.
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
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved
Top Customer Reviews
Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
Ugh! There's no courtesy or consideration at all for a newcomer. KHP introduces, on average, one new character per page in the book's first 33 pages. After that, I got out a notebook to keep track. It's a 239 page book, in which the vast majority of characters - usually each with an alias or nickname or both - appear for no reason at all except, perhaps, to let Faith's fans know they're alive - such as her mother, father, sister, sister's child - while playing no role at all in this particular plot.
Example: Faith's nephew by her sister is Quentin Forbes Elliott III, and the author wants us to know that two Quentins in a family is too many, so they are going to call him Tertius, for being "the Third," except no, they need a nickname for that, too, so call him Terry. Three names for an infant who never, ever, appears in the book or has even an off-stage role. But the hapless reader doesn't know that on page twelve and so makes mental note of these three names the author has explicated with so much attention, all of which boil down to one (invisible, irrelevant) baby.
Again, only 239 pages, yet it takes KHP 225 pages before she mentions a significant character whose existence should have been broached, or at least foreshadowed, at least 200 pages earlier, right around page 22 or so. Please! What this book needs - and it's not a spoiler to say it - is one of those indices in the front matter of the book which Victorian novels used to contain, listing who's who.
I'd give it to you here, but I'd be typing all day. I had in fact planned to type it as part of this review, but there are (at least) SIXTY ONE characters, and again, most of them have several monikers which we are supposed to keep straight--not including references to "Mrs. Fairchild," which could refer to any of several females, or "Mr. Stafford," again, a name borne by more than one male. A significant female character is Joan, no, Joanie, no, Ophelia, no, really, Christine! All four names add up to one person.
For no sane reason at all, we are informed that not one but two of the kitchen staff are named "Alessandro" -- and very oddly, both of these individuals are female. KHP seems otherwise culturally sensitive, so why the gender error here? The kitchen staff are named but the names dribble out one at a time, leaving me consulting my cheat sheet each time to figure out if we'd seen this character before, and whether they tied into any of the action or were merely more human wallpaper. Names and pages: Juana, 81. Eduardo, 90. Alessandro, two of them, 91. Vincente, 165. Tomás, 188. But one of the Alessandro women is also called "Tiny," and the chef, John Forest, is also called Jean Forestier (briefly), and when Faith is in the kitchen, she goes by a Spanish nickname of her own. Please! More aliases than a spy novel, and more jumble of nationalities; there are Norwegians and Aussies, Peruvians and Bolivians, faux-French and so on.
This relentless naming, re-naming, and nicknaming was so irritating, it gave cover for the book's other flaws. The underlying political agenda was dated and clichéd--in short, new money is good, old money is better, and forty years after the 1960s, liberal hippie types are still evil. Oh, please.
To bring things to a conclusion, characters exhibit weird last-minute aberrations inconsistent with all that has gone before. We are to believe that Faith cares enough about an unrelated teen to stalk her on foot through the snowy woods and to pursue her by car all through the town--but is so careless of her own teen nephew that when he's been missing for hours, she takes a wild guess at where he is and blithely tells everyone her guess is fact--without making a single phone call to check, despite two murders at their resort in a single week and an epically ugly confrontation with his mother a couple of days prior when the boy had simply gone to lunch in company with four family members.
I thought the interfamily tensions were well done as far as the anger between Faith and her sisters-in-law, and the raging hysteria of one woman about controlling her teen sons. If the cast of characters had been cut 60%, and everyone limited to two names at most, this would have been a lot more pleasant. The opening scenes with Boyd Harrison were particularly well-written. Clearly, KHP has great skill with character exposition, when she takes the time to do it instead of promiscuously breeding a surfeit of pointless - but alas, not nameless - characters.
Faith stumbles upon Boyd Harrison's body early on and the resort's chef disappears shortly afterward. Since Faith is a caterer, she happily steps in as the resort's chef until a replacement can be found. Things get worse as the week goes on. Someone falls (or is pushed) into the water supply for the snow-making machine. The body is all over the slopes. Pranks and
vandalism are happening every time Faith turns around.
All is not quiet within the Fairchild family either. Faith is amazed at the things she is learning about her family members. Things she really did NOT want to know.
** This novel is not nearly as good as all the previous books in this mystery series. I found this case very easy to solve. The first half of the novel is extremely slow. The only good parts during the first half is the recipes that the author goes into details on how to make. Of course for those who are interested, the recipes can be found either in the back of this novel or in the back of previous novels. There are too many flash backs as well. Often as I read, Faith would find something or have something happen in the first paragraph of a new chapter and then flashes back to the day before. I must read almost the entire chapter before even knowing what is going on. I felt as if I was left suspended somewhere. In my opinion, the story would have been much better had it just been written in the order things happened. As a fan, I can only hope the next mystery in this series is better. **
Reviewed by Detra Fitch of Huntress Reviews.
The murderer's identity was fairly easy to figure out, and there were parts where the book became muddled -- particularly when a chapter just jumped into something major, completely out of left field. But the family dynamic made it more interesting than the past few books, in which Faith just looks down her nose at everything.
The one thing I didn't understand was the relationship between Faith and Betsy -- I'd never had a hint in previous books that there was any problems between them, and suddenly they're at each others' throats as a plot device. That should've been tightened up in the previous books leading up to this one.