Something was very wrong on Sanpere this summer . . .
To escape the misery of a sweltering August in Aleford, Massachusetts, caterer and minister's wife Faith Fairchild and her family head for their cottage on Maine's peaceful Sanpere Island in Penobscot Bay. But things have changed since their last visit. An aggressive developer is moving forward on plans that will destroy the unique ambience of the island, infuriating residents. Tensions are running dangerously high, and soon murder rears its hideous head. Faith discovers a corpse while exploring the grounds of Sanpere's historic lighthouse. With fear running rampant and volatile emotions approaching the detonation point, the intrepid sleuth must track down a killer for the sake of a friend and the island she loves.
Developers and environmentalists do battle over a deserted lighthouse in Page's 13th absorbing "body" book (after 2002's The Body in the Bonfire) to feature Faith Fairchild, caterer, sometime sleuth and mother of two small children. Faith and her minister husband, Tom, who live most of the year in Aleford, Mass., are fixing up their cottage on Maine's Sanpere Island, where "mansionization"-the construction of trophy houses by rich summer people-is making the locals resentful. One evening the falling tide reveals the body of developer Harold Hapswell "wedged between two granite ledges at the base of the old lighthouse... as if he'd been filed between the two large rocks." Suspecting Hapswell's death was no accident, Faith has her worst fears confirmed when she herself is attacked on a walk near the lighthouse. Beneath the tranquil and festive summer activities, including the island-wide Fish and Fritter Fry and an amateur production of Romeo and Juliet, lurk arson and murder. Along with thematically related recipes, the author appends a moving afterword about the impact of September 11 on the novel's composition. This is an ideal beach read for cozy fans heading for the shore this summer.
Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information. -- PUBLISHERS WEEKLY.
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March 30, 2004
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Excerpt from The Body in the Lighthouse by Katherine Hall Page
Sawdust and nails covered the floor. A piece of plywood had been set on two sawhorses as a makeshift counter. It bowed slightly under the weight of an ancient microwave, power tools, containers of coffee, and doughnut boxes. Mold was floating in the congealed cream on the cup Faith Sibley Fairchild had picked up, intending to heave it at her husband, Tom, who was smiling sheepishly at her from the doorway -- a doorway Faith had thought was supposed to be the site for a fireplace. She put the cup down, grabbed a desiccated doughnut from the hand of her seven-year-old son, Benjamin, snatched an iridescent beef jerky stick from the lips of her three-year-old daughter, Amy, and spoke in a carefully measured tone. A very carefully measured tone. Each word enunciated. Each word weighing several tons.
"Sweetheart, I thought you told me that the house was almost finished. It doesn't look almost finished to me."
She had been driving for five hours from the Fairchilds' home, the parsonage in Aleford, Massachusetts, to their summer cottage on Sanpere Island, off the coast of Maine. Five hours in a car with two children well below the age of reason or ability to retain liquids; children who required not only frequent pit stops but constant stimulation in the form of Raffi tapes. Ben, a curious soul, also needed to pepper his mother with questions, answerable and unanswerable: "Why is it called the Maine Turnpike --' cause it's in the state or 'cause it's main?" and "Why are they always working on it every time we drive to Sanpere?" Faith had often thought of offering her services as a consultant to the Massachusetts Department of Correction. Locking miscreants up in cells displayed a certain lack of imagination when it came to sentencing. Most parents could reel off dozens of alternatives, with no possibilities for recidivism.
"Honey," Tom said, "I know how it looks, but, believe me, it really is close to the end. We've got the punch list. Mostly, what you're seeing just means painting, a little cleanup, and a few trips to the dump." In contrast to his wife's words, Tom's rushed out in a torrent, and he tested the waters by moving a few steps closer to her. Clutching a child firmly at each side, she was standing as rigid as Niobe after the gods got to her.
She held up her hand, and Tom stopped in his tracks.
"There are no cabinets, as far as I can see," she said, starting to tick off items with one finger, "nor counters, except for that." Pointer went down as her gaze swept over the plywood, virtually igniting it. "I see you have apparently decided on a different location for the fireplace." Another finger joined the others. "And ..."
Before she made a fist, Tom strode over and put his arms around his family.
"Okay, okay. It's not as far along as we'd hoped, but I was sure you'd want to be here, want to be a part of it, make decisions -- and besides, I missed you guys."
Tom, the Reverend Thomas Fairchild of Aleford's First Parish Church, had been making the long commute to Maine whenever he could steal some time. The Fairchilds' cottage, a simple one-story square built before Amy was born and Ben reliably ambulatory, had been in desperate need of remodeling. From the beginning, the project had been dear to Tom's heart, and he'd spent the previous two weeks away from his family, nail gun in hand, having a ball. Caterer Faith had obligations and was, truth to be told, just as happy to avoid the mess. Yet she had missed Tom, too. She looked into his deep brown eyes. He had sawdust in his hair and was wearing a carpenter's apron from Barton's Lumberyard jauntily tied low on his waist, a badge of honor. She scrutinized his shirt to make sure it was well tucked into his jeans -- front and back. That other badge of honor, revealed when a workman bent to his task, and known locally as "The Sanpere Smile," was safely out of sight.