The Body in the Birches
Review: A century-old estate becomes the center of a family feud in The Body in the Birches, the 23rd mystery in this series by Katherine Hall Page.
Faith and Tom Fairchild are renovating their home on Sanpere Island in Maine. Nearby, their children plan on spending most of the summer at The Pines, the home of Faith's friend Ursula. Next door to The Pines is The Birches, an early 20th century "cottage" that has been owned by the Proctor family since it was built. Priscilla (nee Proctor) and her husband Paul McAllister had owned the estate since Priscilla's parents died. When Priscilla died childless, she instructed in her will that Paul leave the property to a member of the Proctor family. The three relatives in line to inherit were her nephew Simon, his sister Babs, and their cousin Sylvia. Paul has invited the three and their immediate families to The Birches for the month of July so he can observe them and make a decision as to who would be best suited to inherit the estate. Babs, on an extended cruise and unable to be there, sends her daughter Sophie Maxwell in her place, and she is the first to arrive. Sophie adores her Uncle Paul and is familiar with The Birches having spent several summers of her youth there. But when the others arrive, the strain of pending inheritance causes an air of greed, envy, jealousy, deceit, into which murder eventually intrudes.
Although Faith has her own issues, what with renovating her home and coming to grips with her children growing up and becoming independent, she can't help but be drawn into the drama at The Birches. The first death is of the housekeeper, who is thought to have died of a heart attack. But a second death of a neighbor, purportedly from suicide, makes Faith suspicious. Neither were directly involved with the family inheritance, so if someone was out to make sure they "win", why kill these two innocent people?
Sophie Maxwell shares the spotlight as much as Faith Fairchild in this generally entertaining mystery, which alternates between the settings of the story and which spends a lot of time on the dynamics of the families involved, Faith's included. The plot is fairly intricate and well executed, with plenty of side trips that make the journey more interesting overall. The Body in the Birches is a solid entry in this series, but probably better suited for fans who have read one or more of the previous books and are familiar with the Fairchild clan than for those who are meeting them for the first time.
Special thanks to guest reviewer Betty of The Betz Review for contributing her review of The Body in the Birches.
Acknowledgment: HarperCollins provided a copy of The Body in the Birches for this review.
Review Copyright © 2015 — Hidden Staircase Mystery Books — All Rights Reserved
Selected reviews of other mysteries by this author …
William Morrow (Hardcover), May 2014
ISBN-13: 9780062310798; ISBN-10: 0062310798
The Body in the Wardrobe
William Morrow (Hardcover), April 2016
ISBN-13: 9780062439505; ISBN-10: 0062439502
Location(s) referenced in The Body in the Birches: Maine
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The Body in the Birches by Katherine Hall Page — A Faith Fairchild Mystery
Publisher: William Morrow
Publication Date: May 2015
List Price: $24.99
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Page Author: Lance Wright
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