“The same thing happened to me,” Faith Fairchild said. She was on the phone with her friend, Sophie Maxwell, who had called from Savannah, Georgia, her new home, in distress.
“What!” exclaimed Sophie. “You found a dead body, it disappeared pretty much immediately and nobody even your own husband believed what you’d seen?”
Even though they weren’t on FaceTime, Faith nodded, “We were living in France at the time and I’d come across a very dead man in the front hall of the apartment building. He was shoved behind the trashcans near a small closet where I kept Ben’s stroller. I rushed upstairs—no elevator and many, many stairs—called the gendarmes and it wasn’t long before they were at my door saying there was no corpse. One made a gesture as if tipping a bottle of wine into one’s mouth behind my back, but I saw him in the mirror.” The image still made Faith’s blood boil. “Long story short. There had been a dead man. It all got solved, but I feel your pain. I was newly pregnant with Amy at the time and Tom thought it was hormones.”
“Well, I’m not pregnant and you know as well as I do it’s never hormones. That’s just a convenient fiction created by, well a different hormonal group. But Faith, it sounds as if there was more time to move your stiff than mine. I opened the big wardrobe, I suppose more precisely an armoire, to hang up my clothes and out he tumbled! Complete with a knife in his back! You know that Will is working in Atlanta on a case and we’re living in an historic house his stepmother is restoring, so I was alone. It only took a few seconds to run out the back door, around the side and to the front of the house. I could see everything and there nobody living or dead emerging.”
This was not the typical sort of quandary a new bride faced, Faith thought. Sophie was a dear friend, especially after the events in Maine last summer when the two of them had paired up to both solve and prevent a murder. She wished she lived closer. There was no way she could pop down from Aleford, Massachusetts, tempting as it was to both help Sophie and partake of some delicious Lowcountry specialties. It was the Reverend Thomas Fairchild’s busiest time of year, the lead up to Christmas. Faith was just as busy with holiday parties to cater and lend Tom her help. The happiest time of year was often the saddest for many.
“The main thing is that you know what you saw. Plus I believe you.” As Faith said the last words she wished she didn’t believe the young woman. Whatever was going on meant Sophie could be in danger. The advice she wanted to offer was for Sophie to watch her back—literally, but said instead, “Treat it as something like a joke for now. We don’t want whoever is responsible to think you’re any kind of threat.”
Sophie laughed. “Don’t worry. It’s Savannah. Think of its reputation. No one believes I saw a body in the wardrobe, but they’re all positive—and a little jealous —that what I saw was a ghost!”
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A word from the author: “Sometimes a character comes to life and takes a very firm hold of a writer’s imagination. Sophie Maxwell was one of these, just as Faith Fairchild had been twenty-two books ago. I wasn’t ready to let Sophie go—and never Faith!—so here they are for a second outing together. Sophie may appear again in passing, but The Body in the Wardrobe, like The Body in the Birches, is just for them. And for you, dear readers.
After Faith hangs up the phone, and yes eventually she does go to Savannah, she decides to make one of her southern favorites, Pimento Cheese. Give the following recipe a try. It’s great on crackers, most kinds of bread, stuffed into celery or cherry tomatoes, and most of all in the Fairchild’s favorite preparation, and mine— toasted cheese sandwiches.
1 cup (8 ounces) grated white cheddar cheese
1 cup (8 ounces) grated sharp yellow cheddar cheese
1 jar sliced pimentos (4 ounces), drained
1 cup mayonnaise (Duke’s if you live where it’s sold, otherwise Hellman’s)
1 tablespoon chopped chives
Salt and pepper to taste
Pinch (or more) cayenne
This is a very easy, highly addictive dish. Simply mix all the ingredients together and it will keep in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to a week. One of the cheeses has to be orange in order for it to be the real deal.
The Body in the Wardrobe is the 23rd book in the Faith Fairchild mystery series, published by HarperCollins Publishers, April 2016.
Minster’s wife, caterer, and part-time sleuth Faith Fairchild pairs up with Sophie Maxwell, last seen in Body in the Birches and now a newlywed living in historic Savannah, Georgia, where Sophie crosses paths with murder. Another delightful entry in the beloved mystery series, complete with delectable recipes.
Attorney Sophie Maxwell has come to Savannah to be with her new husband, Will. But nothing throws cold water on a hot relationship faster than a dead body. Worse for Sophie, no one believes the body she knows she saw is real. Will is spending an awful lot of time in Atlanta on a case he claims is urgent, and she’s been tasked with house hunting for them with his former sweetheart, who Sophie can’t help but suspect wishes Sophie would return to her Yankee roots!
Fortunately, Sophie has a good friend in Faith Fairchild. With teenage Amy being bullied by mean girls and husband Tom contemplating a major life change that will affect all the Fairchilds, Faith is eager for distraction in the form of some sleuthing. In between discussions of newlywed agita, surprising Savannah customs and, of course, fabulous low country food, Faith and Sophie will pair up to unmask a killer!
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About the author
Katherine Hall Page has been awarded Agathas for Best First, Best Novel, and Best SS and also was nominated for additional Agathas, an Edgar, Macavity, Mary Higgins Clark and the Maine Writers & Publishers Alliance Literary Award for Crime Fiction. Her series features amateur sleuth/caterer, Faith Fairchild. She has also written for young adults and published a series cookbook, Have Faith in Your Kitchen (Orchises Press). Katherine is receiving Malice Domestic’s Lifetime Achievement Award this year at Malice 27. She lives in Maine and Massachusetts. Photography courtesy of Jean Fogelberg.
Giveaway: Leave comment below for your chance to win a print copy of The Body in the Wardrobe. US entries only, please. The giveaway will end April 29, 2016 at 12 AM EST. Good luck everyone!
All comments are welcomed.