BEA'S BOOK NOOK "I can't imagine a man really enjoying a book and reading it only once." C. S. Lewis “If one cannot enjoy reading a book over and over again, there is no use in reading it at all.” ― Oscar Wilde

Wednesday, December 27, 2017

Bea Reviews The Body in the Casket by Katherine Hall Page

Bea's Book Nook, Review, The Body in the Casket, Katherine Hall Page
Series: Faith Fairchild #24
Publisher: William Morrow
Source: the publisher in exchange for an honest review
Release Date: December 5th, 2017 
Buying Links: Amazon* | Book Depository* | iBooks* | Barnes & Noble
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Blurb from goodreads:

The inimitable Faith Fairchild returns in a chilling New England whodunit, inspired by the best Agatha Christie mysteries and with hints of the timeless board game Clue

For most of her adult life, resourceful caterer Faith Fairchild has called the sleepy Massachusetts village of Aleford home. While the native New Yorker has come to know the region well, she isn’t familiar with Havencrest, a privileged enclave, until the owner of Rowan House, a secluded sprawling Arts & Crafts mansion, calls her about catering a weekend house party.

Producer/director of a string of hit musicals, Max Dane—a Broadway legend—is throwing a lavish party to celebrate his seventieth birthday. At the house as they discuss the event, Faith’s client makes a startling confession. “I didn’t hire you for your cooking skills, fine as they may be; but for your sleuthing ability. You see, one of the guests wants to kill me.”

Faith’s only clue is an ominous birthday gift the man received the week before—an empty casket sent anonymously containing a 20-year-old Playbill from Max’s last, and only failed, production—Heaven Or Hell. Consequently, Max has drawn his guest list for the party from the cast and crew. As the guests begin to arrive one by one, and an ice storm brews overhead, Faith must keep one eye on the menu and the other on her host to prevent his birthday bash from becoming his final curtain.

Full of delectable recipes, brooding atmosphere, and Faith’s signature biting wit, The Body in The Casket is a delightful thriller that echoes the beloved mysteries of Agatha Christie and classic films such as Murder by Death and Deathtrap.

My Thoughts:

Twenty plus books into a series, it can be hard to keep things fresh, but Hall Page did it with "The Body in the Casket" and she did it by reaching back in time. As the blurb says, the story harkens back to such classic mysteries as Deathtrap and almost anything by Agatha Christie and it heavily references the board game Clue.

She felt as if she were walking onto a stage set. A Noel Coward drawing room comedy or Agatha Christie country house murder. 

An 'Agatha Christie country house murder' describes this story quite well. Faith is hired by retired Broadway produce Max Dane both for her catering skills and her investigating skills. He received a casket on his doorstep and dears his life may be in danger. So he invites the possible suspects to his house to celebrate his birthday and hires Faith to cater it and figure out who threatened him. All the suspects are under one roof, with bad weather essentially trapping them in the house, and Faith has until the weekend ends to figure out who wants Max dead. There's also the question of parentage around one of the party-goers.

Meanwhile, there's a minor mystery involving Ursula Rowe, the mother of Faith's good friend Pix Miller, and a somewhat mysterious gentleman friend who has suddenly popped into Ursula's life. But that isn't all Pix has to deal with, her grown daughter Samantha has abruptly moved back home and changed jobs. And both Tom and Faith are involved in fighting a proposed development in Aleford.

Page juggles all these threads, somewhat successfully. I'd be caught up and involved in one thread and bam! Page would move onto the next one, pulling me out of the story. Then I'd get swept in again, and bam! she's changed threads again. Some of the story threads fit and flow together while others seem tacked on. If you haven't read any of the earlier novels, that won't be a problem as it stands on its own. There was was too much emphasis on characters other than Faith and the people involved in the main mystery. While I like that Faith's life is not just background to the story but woven into it and the people in her life are not just placeholders, they nevertheless occupied a disproportionately large part of the book. It's a fine line and this time Page missed it.

The mysteries, both Faith's and Ursula's, were interesting and Faith's in particular had me guessing for while before figuring out who did it although the motive was not immediately apparent. Faith is a good amateur sleuth; she asks smart questions, makes educated guesses, mostly doesn't take stupid risks, and knows when to ask for help.

"The Body in the Basket" was a little bit classic mystery, a little bit cozy mystery, a little bit family drama, and a little bit romance. All of the different parts didn't always mesh well together but it was an enjoyable story that I finished in one day. Page has kept the series fresh and engaging.

My reviews of earlier books:

#20, The Body in the Boudoir
#22, The Body in the Birches

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