The Body in the Sleigh
Review: Katherine Hall Page incorporates a traditional Christmas story within a murder mystery in The Body in the Sleigh, the 18th entry in this series featuring caterer and amateur sleuth Faith Fairchild.
The body in the sleigh is of a young woman, carefully placed between two other lifeless figures — mannequins — that are part of a holiday display in the center of Sanpere Island. As Faith notes upon discovering the body, this was not an example of Christmas cheer, but the polar opposite. But Faith's attention is quickly diverted by another unexpected visitor to the island — a baby found in the barn of Mary Bethany, a local resident who lived alone on a goat farm. If the baby is a surprise, so is what accompanied him: $50,000 in one-hundred dollar bills. Though there is nothing to link the dead woman with the baby boy, Faith surmises that there must be a connection and sets out to discover what it is.
The Body in the Sleigh is a pleasant enough mystery, though by no means a demanding one. The final paragraph of the second chapter pretty much summarizes what is to follow: "But the something-wrong-with-this-picture was the mound of cash on the kitchen table. Cash that Faith had a strong feeling didn't lawfully belong to [the baby's] mother. And the real owner wasn't going to waste any time looking for it. Looking for it all over the great state of Maine." The identity of the dead woman is a little more uncertain, but an extended backstory threaded through the main story fills in those details.
The yuletide message, as it were, though, is somewhat heavy-handed. A baby named Christopher, found in the barn of a virgin named Mary, on a clear Christmas Eve night with a bright star overhead, is a little overly contrived, even for a spiritual novel, which this isn't … exactly. Fans of this series will likely be content with the story and how it plays out here, but it all seems a bit too strained and overdone, formulaic even.
Acknowledgment: HarperCollins provided an ARC of The Body in the Sleigh for this review.
Review Copyright © 2010 — Hidden Staircase Mystery Books — All Rights Reserved
Location(s) referenced in The Body in the Sleigh: Maine
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The Body in the Sleigh by Katherine Hall Page — A Faith Fairchild Mystery
Publisher: William Morrow
Publication Date: October 2009
List Price: $24.99