Tuesday, May 14, 2013

THE BODY IN THE PIAZZA by Katherine Hall Page

Fans of the Faith Fairchild mystery series are in for several treats with her 21st adventure.  First of all, many may call a travel agent to arrange a trip to Italy as that is where caterer Faith and pastor hubby Tom have gone sans offspring to celebrate their 25th anniversary.   Page makes Italy sound like the most inviting place on the planet with numerous details of scenes and places visited.  They begin in Rome before going to Tuscany for the opening of Faith’s former assistant Francesca’s cooking school - Cucina Rossi.

Once there many mouths will water while reading descriptions of daily comestibles.  But, never worry - recipes for Spaghetti alla Foriana, Pici with Tuscan Ragu, Fresh Spinach Sauteed with Garlic and Panna Cotta are included in the back of the book.

While in Rome Tom and Faith befriend an apparently learned Englishman, Freddy Ives, who treats them to a delicious meal, jots copiously in a notebook he carries, and thoroughly charms the Fairchilds while not saying very much about himself.  It’s not long before the couple are horror stricken to see Freddy stabbed to death in the Piazza Farnese.  Tom has caught just a glimpse pf the murderer and Freddy only managed to gasp a few words before his last breath.

Somewhat reluctantly the Fairchilds proceed to Tuscany to offer Francesca and her husband support in their new endeavor and hopefully enjoy themselves.  The enjoying part may be a tad difficult as other guests are really a mixed bag - an argumentative couple who seem to be on the brink of divorce, a young girl in Goth garb complete with facial piercings, a snooty, hard-to-please  British couple, some Southern ladies, an apparently very-much-in-love pair, and Francesca’s neighbor, Luke, who owns an eye-popping palazzo and attendant vineyards.

The biscotti is just being passed when the just purchased milk turns sour, Francesca’s assistant quits, and the guest’s bathtubs are home to decapitated snakes.  Helping Francesca would be a full-time job for anyone but dauntless Faith is also determined to solve Freddy’s murder.  Along the way she’s locked in an Etruscan tomb and Tom is kidnaped.

With some help from her sister in the States and the British Embassy all’s well in the end just as we knew it would be.  But, what an unforgettable journey it was!


- Gail Cooke

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