Caterer and small-town minister's wife Faith Fairchild might never have accepted the job teaching a course on Cooking for Idiots at Mansfield Academy had it not been for Daryl Martin. An African-American student at the prestigious prep school, Daryl has lately become the target of a series of vicious and anonymous racial attacks -- and Faith is determined to put an end to the injustice. But Mansfield, she finds, is a seething cauldron of secrets, academic in-fighting, and unspoken rules that complicate her task. When someone tampers with her classroom cooking ingredients -- and then the remains of her prime suspect are discovered smoldering in a campus bonfire -- she realizes that a monstrous evil is stalking both Daryl and the school. And suddenly Faith's own life is in serious jeopardy as well!
Despite three brutal murders and some ugly racial prejudice in this 12th mystery to feature amateur sleuth Faith Fairchild, Agatha Award-winner Page (The Body in the Belfry, etc.) keeps the tone light as her heroine reflects wittily on the quotidian challenges of being the wife (and daughter) of a clergyman, the mother of two young children and the head of her own catering business. At Mansfield Academy, a not-so-elite boys' boarding school in a small town outside Boston, someone is harassing black student Daryl Martin, a top athlete and scholar. Faith's friend Patsy Avery calls her in to find out who's responsible for the hate-filled e-mail, offensive newspaper clippings and finally a noose left on Daryl's pillow. Under the cover of teaching a cooking class during winter project term, Faith searches for clues. At the same time, students and maintenance crew build a gigantic pyre for the school's annual bonfire. Faith is sure she's identified the harasser, Sloane Buxton, the aristocratic and handsome leader of a campus clique. When Sloane's corpse turns up in the smoldering embers of the bonfire, suspicion falls on Daryl. The harried headmaster, meanwhile, who rescued Mansfield from bankruptcy years before by buying it, has a lot of explaining to do to concerned parents. With recipes of the dishes Faith prepares in her cooking class in an appendix, this whodunit provides fully satisfying fare for a cold winter's night around the fire. Agent, Faith Hamlin.
Copyright 2002 Cahners Business Information.
-- PUBLISHERS WEEKLY.
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January 31, 2003
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