Saturday, December 12, 2009

Review: The Body in the Sleigh

Summary: It's Christmastime, and the Fairchild family is spending the holidays on idyllic Sanpere Island in Maine while the Reverend Thomas Fairchild recuperates from surgery. His caterer wife, Faith, is rejoicing in the rare, holiday family-time together—watching ice boaters, snowshoeing, and doing plenty of reading in front of the fire.

But Faith's high spirits are dampened when she discovers the body of a young woman in an antique sleigh in front of the Sanpere Historical Society. The victim, Norah, was a teenage drug addict who apparently died by her own hand. Beloved by many, her untimely death rocks the isolated, tight-knit island community.

Meanwhile, Mary Bethany, a local spinster who raises goats, happens upon a newborn baby boy lying in the manger of her barn on Christmas Eve. The only clues to his identity are a note in the basket asking her to take care of him, as well as an alarming amount of cash. As Faith helps Mary locate the baby's mother, she soon finds that the truth behind the abandonment is connected to Norah's last days—and that, just as death and life are intertwined on Sanpere, so are evil and redemptive goodness. -- William Morrow

It's been a few days since I've posted a review for a Christmas book, but that doesn't mean that I've stopped reading them! I recently completed THE BODY IN THE SLEIGH by Katherine Hall Page, and I found it to be a terrific read for this time of year. Prior to THE BODY IN THE SLEIGH, I hadn't read any of Ms. Page's Faith Fairchild mysteries. However, I enjoyed this one so much that I might have to revisit some of her earlier novels.

THE BODY IN THE SLEIGH definitely can be read and enjoyed without having ever read any of the earlier books in the series, but I'm kind of a stickler and like to read books in order. I really liked Faith and her family, and I just would have liked to have known a little bit more about them. I have to give the author a great deal of credit for giving the reader enough background about the characters so there aren't any gaps or questions. I would think it might be a challenge to write a series in such a way that each book is its own entity.

I used to read a lot more mysteries than I do now, and what I realized as I read this novel is that I really enjoy a good mystery. I liked how Ms. Page had interesting characters, and I also thought Ms. Page laid out her mystery very well. I was definitely interested in learning what happened to the victim (along with the book's characters); and I thought the author did a wonderful job of humanizing the victim. It wasn't one of those books where I was on the edge of my seat guessing about the potential culprits, but it was one of those stories that just unfolded so well.

What I think I enjoyed most about this novel is how Ms. Page brought the story to life. Her descriptions of the Maine coast land were vivid, and it was apparent to me that Ms. Page is very familiar with this part of our country. In addition, I liked how she portrayed the small town and its people. I think it was the perfect setting for this mystery. Another thing I really appreciated was how she wove the theme of Christmas into the story. The character of Mary Bethany, a spinster, discovers a young baby boy who was mysteriously left in her goat barn on Christmas Eve. I think you'll see some of the parallels to the Christmas story. I especially liked the overall theme of hope in this novel!

Thanks to the publisher for sending me a copy of this book.

5 comments:

HODGEPODGESPV said...

this looks like a fun book i should add to my wish list.

lilly said...

I still haven't convinced myself to read any Christmas-themed books and it's probably too late for this season since I have way too much on my plate already but this Christmas mystery sounds really interesting and might just read it whenever instead of waiting for another Christmas.

bermudaonion said...

I really enjoyed this book too. It was my first from the Faith Fairchild series, but I would definitely read another.

Molly said...

I saw this in the store the other day when the title immediately caught my attention. I have not read this author before, although I love a good mystery. I will definitely have to check this series out over the holidays.

Mike Lindgren said...

Sounds like a good one! Mystery and Christmas -- two of my favorite things, combined!