The Body in the Birches: Katherine Hall Page
The smells from the kitchen are to tantalizing that the reader enticing the reader to find out who is making the muffins, boiling the lobsters, creating the cakes and preparing what just might be not only a great mystery to read but a delicious way to entice readers to learn more as you open the pages of The Body in the Birches and begin to wonder: Who is the victim? What link does the victim have to the amazing dishes being made if at all? Just how can I get the recipes and when will all be revealed?
The weather plays an important part in this story as it controls the tension, provides the heat and the anguish that many of the characters experience within this complex novel. As the July Fourth weekend descends upon those living on Sanpere Island and the hottest temperatures on record are recording and reported in the news a family will faceoff in a bitter contest to see who will be the final winner of a place so many love to visit and enjoy, The Birches. Faith Fairchild comes to join the festivities over the holidays with her two children Ben and Amy but not before learning that her mother-in-law has had a serious heart attack preventing her husband Tom from remaining with her for the holidays. A simple will or final request sets the stage for in fighting, trying to get into the good graces of the one man whose decision will decide it all as the weather fires up, the heat is on, the celebrations come and go as the families arrive and the first body shows up. As Tom, Faith’s husband has to focus on his mother’s care leaving her alone with their two children, she finds herself dealing with her teenage son, his new job that she would prefer he quit. The food is prepared, the relatives all stake their claims but when Faith needs time for herself little does she expect to find a body in the woods near the Birches along with Sophie, who came a placeholder for her mother Babs who is on a cruise with her latest husband.
A Fourth of July that they will never forget and the body of the housekeeper whose death seems to be attributed to a heart attack. But, anyone knows that if this is a Faith Fairchild mystery novel not only will you be privy to outstanding food along the way, recipes that are tantalizing but the reassurance that there will be a murder. The members of the Proctor Family, the family in question is quite colorful and dynamic. Within the many layers we meet members of several families each hoping to earn the right to the Birches. Trying to win over Paul’s favor and hoping to be the one he chooses to receive the deed to the property we hear the voices of the characters as they each try to pretend or care for Paul. Some will cook, clean and create dishes for picnics, for parties and other occasions but within this plot Faith Fairchild will uncover a death, a murder and even try to sort out why her daughter is concerned about her friend Daisy and why Daisy feels someone is out to kill her mother. Sylvia does not take things seriously and even though subtle threats have been made and something was left on her pillow to frighten her, she forges ahead with the elaborate plans for her birthday cruise inviting all the members of her family, extended family and even some surprises. But, when her son Rory is missing and turns up late with something special for her, you begin to wonder what else he is into as his behavior is often inappropriate and drinking quite a lot.
The family pretends to get along as Sophie takes the lead by helping with the plans, preparing the food, driving family members to the boat and taking the brunt of what others dish out. But, within her circle she hopes to enlist the help of Faith to guide her in her quest to possibly give up the law and work for her. Enjoying cooking and baking might seem less stressful but it is something she actually enjoys doing. Added in we have many members of the Proctor family each hoping to win the Birches and some going after the Pines.
Ben, Faith’s son is working for someone that does not appear to be honest and even though he works in the kitchen washing dishes and often helping the chef, he might find himself embroiled in something quite dangerous as the author reminds us often that Tom is not there to help with Amy and Ben. With her mother –in-law facing surgery and much more Faith might allow Pix to remain with the children in order to see Tom her his mother.
As the Proctor family takes center stage in order to find out who the lucky member is that will inherit Aunt Priscilla’s home, a will is read and her husband follows her instructions and many feel that it is unfair that he has such a burden. But, as you get to know each one of the relatives you might hope that he decides to give it all to charity. As each member begins their quest and Faith is vacationing on the island, Tom her husband is focused on his mother’s illness and things start to boil hotter than the weather. Living with their friend Ursula, straightforward and no holds barred, Faith finds herself in the center of more than just a family dispute.
While Ben is working on the island and finds an attraction to the girl he’s working with, Mandy, and then learns more about his bosses, will he fall prey to something bad? Added in Amy is concerned about Daisy are her fears real? Why does Sylvia decide to prepare her own food? Why does she think someone is out to kill her?
Things get complicated as Faith sees Mandy’s father sitting on a chair in the hot sun. Finding him and checking to see if he’s okay leads to the discovery that he might have been murdered. Who on the island wants to decrease the population? Why? What does Dwayne have to do with Proctors and who gets The Birches? But, things heat up even more as Mandy goes missing, Ben might know where she is and why and things spiral out of control as a killer becomes desperate and will stop at nothing to win the grand prize.
Within this plot we learn more about Sophie and her attraction to Will. Just who this mystery man is remains to be seen but what happens when cousin Felicity’s future husband shows up and brings Sophie’s ex along for the ride? An encounter you won’t believe and a teen named Ben that will surprise you as lives are at stake, someone is locked in the lighthouse, time is running out but will anyone be able to stop what someone is intent on finishing. People getting sick from the food or maybe something else? Faith Fairchild worried about Ben and trying to piece it all together. Just who is behind the attempted murders and two murders? What really happened to Bev? Who killed Dwayne and why? Greed, revenge, deceit, lies, backstabbing, bad mouthing and much more fill the pages of this novel but the best are the recipes and tantalizing foods that the family members enjoy keeping readers on the page wanting not only the food but to learn more about this diverse family.
The colors of a painter’s palette are very diverse and often can create scenes filled with dynamic scenes, faces and places. The many places vividly depicted and described by author Katherine Hall Page remind me of the many colors in a palette as you can picture the Birches, the many rooms, the places that are visited by the characters, the cruise and the tours they took, helps to make the story come alive. From the moment Faith Fairchild joins the group at the Pines the excitement begins and the remarkable think about her is she manages to stay calm, figure things out systematically and remain alert and astute in order to often catch a killer. With the help of her son Ben, Amy’s perceptiveness and Sophie she just might stop what someone started. So, who gets The Birches? This is a mystery and that will remain for you the reader to learn. You will definitely be surprised. Who is the killer and why? That’s another mystery but let’s just say greed is a powerful killer! The Body in the Birches: a great summer read and a great fun novel with amazing recipes added at the end.
Let’s give this book: FIVE GOLDEN BLUEBERRY MUFFINS
Fran Lewis: Just Reviews