This time out, smalltown caterer and minister's wife Faith Fairchild's neighbor, Pix Miller, takes center stage, heading off to Norway to investigate the sudden disappearance of a family friend. Determined to discover the truth, Pix is drawn into a suspenseful world of intrigue, stolen antiques, secret histories, and deadly echoes from Norway's past and the Nazi occupation. Surrounded by the country's breathtaking beauty, the ever-resourceful New Englander perseveres -- until at last she finds herself face-to-face with a remorseless killer...with no way out.
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November 01, 1998
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Excerpt from The Body in the Fjord by Katherine Hall Page
"Pix, dear, I have to leave for Norway tomorrow, and I think you'd better come, too. Something rather dreadful has happened and Marit needs us."
"Norway?" Pix Miller was still breathless from catching the phone, and the name of the country was all she could get out at the moment. Norway -- this was considerably farther afield than her mother's usual proposals: lunch at Boston's venerable Chilton Club, bird-watching at the Audubon Sanctuary in Lincoln. Then the rest of what her mother had said hit home and she caught her breath quickly.
"Marit! What's wrong! Is she ill?"
Marit Hansen was one of Ursula Rowe's oldest and dearest friends. They had been girls together, growing up in Aleford, Massachusetts, some eighty years ago. Marit's family had moved back to Norway when Marit was a teenager, but the two friends had always stayed in touch.
"No, Marit's fine, but it appears that Kari's boyfriend, Erik, has been killed in some sort of tragic accident."
"Oh my God! Poor Kari! How is she taking it? What a thing to have to cope with at her age. You met him last summer, didn't you?"
"Yes. He was a student at the university with Kari. They talked about getting married in a few years, when they had enough money to buy an apartment." Ursula Rowe paused as the picture of the happy, carefree couple came to mind. They had taken a picnic to one of the islands near the Hansen's house in Tonsberg, on Norway's east coast. The fjord was filled with boats and the beaches filled with people eagerly storing up the summer sunshine against the long, dark winter. Kari, Marit Hansen's granddaughter, and Erik were a beautiful couple -- tall, blue-eyed, blond, so alike as to be brother and sister, except Erik was trying to grow a beard. Kari had teased him about the patchy stubble. Ursula felt very tired. It seemed every time the phone rang, it brought bad news -- sickness or another acquaintance gone. She knew she would never get used to it, no matter how often friends reached for the supposedly comforting platitudes, saying that it went with her age or that, in some cases, it had been a "good" death, mercifully painless, quick.
But this death was different. There was nothing good about it. Erik Sorgard was young, barely out of his teens at twenty-one. He had hardly begun his life. All those hopes and dreams. She realized Pix was speaking.
"Mother, are you still there?" It was unusual for Ursula to tune out.
"Sorry, its all been quite upsetting and I have so much to do to get ready. And you -- you'd better call Sam right away. Samantha can keep an eye on Danny, and we shouldn't be gone too long, I hope."
Ursula had returned to matters at hand, but Pix was confused. Of course Marit would be upset about her granddaughter's fianc?'s death, and Ursula's particular brand of care -- a combination of stiff upper lip and subtle coddling -- was always effective, but to drop everything and rush off to Norway now?
"Can't you give yourself a few days to get ready? Why do you have to go tomorrow? I'm sure Marit would understand, and of course I feel terrible and would like to see Kari especially, but I can't just leave." Car pools, her part-time job at her friend and neighbor Faith Fairchild's catering company, plus all the meetings scheduled for this week -- the vestry, the food bank's steering committee, the PTA, the...
She heard a heavy sigh come over the wires. Ursula was not given to sighs, or vapors, or any other Victorian modes of self-expression.
"You wouldn't be able to see Kari. That's the whole point. She's missing. Now, wash, your hands and come over. We'll talk about it while I pack."
Pix peeled off one of her gardening gloves and regarded the dirt that always managed to seep through.
"How did you know I was in the garden?" She had to know. Her mother's clairvoyance could be startling.