The Body in the Casket by Katherine Hall Page is the 24th book in the “Faith Fairchild” mystery series. Publisher: William Morrow, coming December 5, 2017

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 and 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 twenty-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 call.

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.”

I’m intrigued by the premise of this book. The pacing and comfortable tone was on par with how this story was told. In a expertly defined whodunit, we ponder who is doing what to whom as multiple secondary characters are dead instead of the person who wants Faith to solve his upcoming murder. A very mystifying plot that keeps me looking deeper into what is going on. Then there is another subplot involving her best friend’s family, that had me watching every incident to see how it would play out and my suspicion was justified. The author has a way with the narrative that had me immersed in the play-by play activities as every action and reaction moved the story forward. I enjoyed all that I read and that surprising twist at the end, bravo as I did not see that one coming. Great job, Katherine. This is one of the best book in this endearing series and I look forward to more adventures with Faith and her friends.

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FTC Full Disclosure – I received an Advanced Reader Copy (ARC) from the publisher.

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