In this homage to Agatha Christie's And Then There Were None, Faith Fairchild is asked to cater a very small, very private college reunion on an isolated New England island—an event that could be her dream job. But when she discovers the true reason for the get-together, not even the spectacular ocean views can keep it from turning into a nightmare. Thirty years ago, bestselling suspense writer Barbara Bailey Bishop lost her twin sister in a tower fall deemed a suicide. But Barbara is convinced that Hélène did not die by her own hand, and she's trapped Hélène's former classmates—her prime suspects—at her home with no phone lines, no cell reception, and no means of escape.
One by one, the alumnae fall prey to a madwoman. A disturbed sister's revenge . . . or a former coed's coverup? Faith must quickly unlock the secrets of Hélène's last night if she wants to leave the island alive.
About the Author
Katherine Hall Page is the author of twenty-three previous Faith Fairchild mysteries, the first of which received the Agatha Award for best first mystery. The Body in the Snowdrift was honored with the Agatha Award for best novel of 2006. Page also won an Agatha for her short story “The Would-Be Widower.” The recipient of the Malice Domestic Award for Lifetime Achievement, she has been nominated for the Edgar, the Mary Higgins Clark, the Maine Literary, and the Macavity Awards. She lives in Massachusetts and Maine with her husband.
Read an Excerpt
Body in the Ivy, The
Faith Sibley Fairchild stared out the train window, the book she had brought to while away the trip resting unopened in her lap. The scenery wasn't particularly engrossing...yards backing up to the tracks, some with fences or hedges in an attempt to block the view and every so often a town center, a glimpse of a bandstand in the middle of a green or a white clapboard church with a spire, followed by a row of pines. A New England flip book. The churches reminded Faith of First Parish in Aleford, Massachusetts, where her husband, the Reverend Thomas Fairchild, tended the spiritual needs of the community while Faith quite literally catered to its physical well-being, continuing the business she had started in her native New York City in the late 1980s. Her clientele looked different...if a man was in a tux and a woman in a gown it was either the opening night of the Boston Symphony or a wedding...but the food was of the same quality. It wasn't a question of serving no boiled dinners before their time, but never serving them at all.
June had finally arrived and the flickering shades of green outside were deeply comforting after a winter of record snowfall that had stretched well into April. The cold had clung to May, and Faith found herself placing her palm on the window to feel the warmth of the day's bright sunshine. She was alone in the row of seats that stretched to both sides of the aisle. Later trains would be packed as Bostonians headed north for weekends by the shore.
Alone. This was such an unusual state of affairs that she wasn't quite sure what she was feeling. When she wasn't involved with Tom and their two children, eleven-year-old Ben and eight-year-old Amy, she was at work with her staff or active in other Aleford pursuits that mostly revolved around the church and the kids' school. Technology meant she was always within reach. She slipped her cell out of her purse. No service. She smiled. What she was feeling snapped into focus as fast as the TGV, the swift French train they had taken last summer from Paris to Lyon. Faith felt absolutely wonderful, suspended for a few brief hours with no responsibilities whatsoever. Wonderful. The book slipped unnoticed to the floor.
The train was making that clickety-clack train noise that never failed to excite her, bringing with it the notion of all those other trains...Trans Siberian, Orient Express, Canadian Pacific...and trips, some imagined; some real. She was back in Grand Central Station with her sister, Hope, one year younger, pulling away from their parents to spot Camp Merrydale's banner, darting toward it squealing excitedly with several dozen other girls, accompanied by counselors who already looked exhausted.
Another journey. One of her camp friends lived outside Philadelphia, and twice a year Faith would be placed on the train in Penn Station and be met at the 30th Street Station in Philly. She could still remember the names of the stops on the way and her disappointment when she discovered that Cherry Hill, New Jersey, bore little resemblance to what she had been envisioning...a town filled with acres of delicate blossoms ripening into sweet ruby-red fruit.
She'd missed the glory days of train travel, Faith thought regretfully. The Twentieth Century from New York to Chicago. Nick and Nora Charles traveling coast to coast in style with Vuitton steamer trunks and martinis in the club car. And her favorite, Hitchcock's North by Northwest; Cary Grant and Eva Marie Saint in a compartment larger than most NYC studio apartments. Faith thought wistfully of the meal they had consumed...brook trout...with a Gibson first for Grant. Fine linens, cutlery, china, and glassware...fresh flowers on the table. The only sustenance offered on this train consisted of prepackaged sandwiches with expiration dates so far in the future they were ready-made time capsules, and a machine that offered the ubiquitous snacks that Americans seemed unable to exist without, despite the absence of either nourishment or flavor. Faith had packed her own lunch...smoked turkey, watercress, and a dollop of mango chutney on buckwheat-walnut bread, one of her assistant Niki's delectable blondies, some muscat grapes, and a bottle of Voss water. She wasn't hungry yet, and besides, having the food was like having a few hefty deposits in the bank...or a number of dinners in the freezer. You were tempted to use them, but it felt equally good just to know they were there.
The train swayed slightly from side to side, the motion keeping time with the sound of the tracks. Another movie, Silver Streak. Gene Wilder is in the bar with Ned Beatty, supposedly a vitamins salesman, who is telling Wilder he's in "for the ride of your life." Pick a woman, any woman. "It's something about the movement of the train that does it." Faith did find herself thinking about Tom, heading by plane in the opposite direction for the weeklong annual meeting of the denomination in Virginia. Beatty strikes out with Jill Clayburgh, who responds to his obvious come-on by pouring her drink in his lap to "cool" him down. And it's Wilder who gets to eat dinner with her...another well-appointed table and menu: macédoine of fruit, beef oriental with rice and carrots, apple pie à la mode, a bottle of Mouton Cadet 1961, and several bottles of Korbel in an elegant champagne bucket back in another spacious compartment. Ah, for those days. Faith sighed to herself and resolved to watch all three movies upon her return. Plus Agatha Christie's Murder on the Orient Express.
Another train going in the opposite direction hurtled by and for a moment the sensation of motion was suspended as her car traveled parallel to the next. Then the passing train built up speed. Faith looked at the people in the cars. The train was as empty as the one she was traveling on. There were . . .Body in the Ivy, The. Copyright © by Katherine Page. Reprinted by permission of HarperCollins Publishers, Inc. All rights reserved. Available now wherever books are sold.