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The Body in the Ivy by Katherine Hall Page

The Body in the Ivy (2007)

by Katherine Hall Page

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Synopsis: Faith has taken a week long catering gig for a famous author. Although in an idyllic setting, she begins to get misgivings when the other guests arrive. Murder soon follows, as do accusations among the guest regarding just who the killer might be.
Review: This is an homage to Agatha Christie’s ‘Ten Little Indians’. There is some suspense and the killer is the logical suspect; however, Dame Christie’s tale is much creepier. ( )
  DrLed | Nov 24, 2013 |
This is the 16th entry in a series featuring Faith Fairchild, caterer and amateur sleuth. The author modeled it on Agatha Christie's And Then There Were None, aka Ten Little Indidans.

The story begins in the summer of 1970, the day before graduation day for Pelham College, a very elite and traditional New England women's college. The body of a graduating senior, is found in the ivy below the tower of her dorm. The dead woman is Helena Prince, known as Prin, and her death has been ruled a suicide. Her survivors include her twin sister Elaine, also a Pelham senior and resident of Prin's dorm.

Forty years later, seven women women from Prin's class receive a mysterious invitation to spend a week at the secluded island home of a reclusive, best selling novelist who is known to be a graduate of Pelham, but whose identity is unknown. She writes under a pen name, refuses interviews and public appearances, and the author photo on her book is shadowy.

The women are not told they are to be part of a Pelham reunion of sorts, but most believe they are attending a gathering of the author's friends to provide a service for a fee. The women include a renowed classical guitarist who believes she is to provide entertainment, a gardening columnist and financial expert who believe they are to present seminars, and a masseuse. The current president of Pelham College is also a 1970 graduate of the school, and believes she is meeting with the wealthy author to discuss a major donation and to plan a new writing program for the school. One believes she is to be part of a focus group of readers.

Most of the women want to leave immediately when they realize they're brought together under false pretenses, but they learn they have to spend at least one night because the boat that brought them there won't be returning and the island has no phone service or any other means of communication, except for flying a flag to alert local fishermen of an emergency.

Only Faith, who is not a Pelham grad, knows the true reason she is going to the author's home for a week -- that she is to cook for a reunion of Pelham women. Of course being an amateur sleuth, Faith finds a body on the first morning she's there, but she can't find the handyman anywhere. A fierce storm makes it impossible to signal for help as the women realize they're in the midst of a murderer and any of them may be the next victim.

Through their discussions and flashbacks, the story emerges of each woman's years at Pelham and why each one had a motive for wanting Prin dead. The picture that emerges of Prin is of a young woman who is uncommonly beautiful, but who uses her beauty to lure people into an evil web of subtle manipulation that alters and destroys lives.

I haven't read any other books in this series, but that wasn't a problem. This could easily be a stand alone novel. I enjoyed the writing style and the character of Faith Fairchild, so I'll probably go back to the beginning and read the rest of the series. There is so much talk of food throughout the book that reading it made me hungry, so it's fortunate that recipes are included. ( )
  MHarney | Nov 16, 2009 |
Reviewed by K. Osborn Sullivan for TeensReadToo.com

Nearly forty years ago, Pelham College senior Helene Prince plummeted to her death from the school's tower. A wealthy, popular, beautiful woman, Prin, as she was known, seemed to have everything going for her. Which made her suicide that much more tragic. But Prin's group of friends at Pelham, as well as her twin sister, suspected there was more to the story.

After graduation, the young women all went their separate ways, until decades later when all are summoned to a mysterious island by a famous suspense writer. The former friends would never have agreed to go if they had known the others would be there, and they certainly would not have gone if they had known that the nightmare of Prin's death was about to come back to haunt them. When the island's reluctant guests start getting killed off, it is up to the caterer, Faith Fairchild, to catch the murderer and stop the carnage. This isn't Faith's first experience with homicide, either. It seems that she is often buried in dead bodies while she is trying to serve delicious delicacies to her catering clients.

THE BODY IN THE IVY is an entertaining mystery that kept me guessing. I don't read many mysteries, and I found myself wondering why that is as I turned the pages of this book. It's fun to wonder "Who dunnit?" and to watch the clues and suspects as they are revealed. In this particular book, the setting - an isolated private island - added greatly to the mystery and atmosphere. The prime suspects were eight former college friends who had gladly shaken the dust of their all-women's college off their feet decades earlier. They were all successful in their own ways, and it was fun to see how they each had evolved since college, and how they handled the stress of being trapped on an island with a murderer.

About half of this book takes place in present day, largely on the private island where all the women have been gathered. The other half of the book is made up of flashbacks to the women's lives and relationships when they were in college. These flashbacks focus on each woman in turn, and show key turning points in their relationships with each other and, especially, with the dead woman, Prin. The flashbacks in the story where the women are in college will undoubtedly be of most interest to teen readers. Those readers will likely identify with college students in their late teens and early twenties. Although I believe that readers of any age will enjoy meeting the women that those college students became and seeing how their past experiences shaped their lives.

I recommend this book for readers who enjoy a nice, juicy mystery. The story is unique, too, because the sleuth is a caterer. That gives the author an opportunity to offer some recipes for dishes that are served during the story. That was a neat touch. I discovered that THE BODY IN THE IVY is the most recent in a series of more than a dozen mysteries by Katherine Hall Page. All the titles begin with "The Body in the...," so it's clear that Page's catering heroine, Faith Fairchild, has plenty of experience in solving murders. This was good news for me because now I have a long list of intriguing mysteries to add to my "to be read" pile. ( )
1 vote GeniusJen | Oct 9, 2009 |
I read this book in late 2006 or early 2007 in hardcover. Faith caters a small reunion on a small island. The reunion has a hidden agenda in that the organizer believes one of those she invited murdered her sister. We have a take on Agatha Christie's "And Then There Were None." This was not one of my favorites in the series. ( )
  thornton37814 | Jul 5, 2009 |
Take one remote island, add a reclusive author/owner, a group of estranged college friends, a caretaker and a cook, and throw in a powerful storm cutting off communication with the mainland. If this "recipe" sounds a lot like Agatha Christie's And Then There Were None, it should. This cozy is Katherine Hall Page's take on an often-used mystery plot. The cook for the reunion is caterer Faith Fairchild, who, as the only one in the house who wasn't part of their Pelham College class, becomes the only person the others will trust when the guests begin to die one by one.

Even though the plot is common, it's one I always enjoy if the characters are interesting. Katherine Hall Page did an excellent job of portraying the characters in their college relationship of 40 years earlier, as well as the women they have become. Since I also love mysteries in academic settings, I relished the several chapters about the group's college years that set up the motive for the current murders.

It isn't necessary to have read other books in the series to enjoy this one. The nature of the plot makes it work well as a stand-alone. ( )
1 vote cbl_tn | Apr 10, 2009 |
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Faith Sibley Fairchild stared out the train window, the book she had brought to while away the trip resting unopened in her lap.
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0060763663, Mass Market Paperback)

In this homage to Agatha Christie's And Then There Were None, Faith Fairchild is asked to cater a very small, very private college reunion on an isolated New England island—an event that could be her dream job. But when she discovers the true reason for the get-together, not even the spectacular ocean views can keep it from turning into a nightmare. Thirty years ago, bestselling suspense writer Barbara Bailey Bishop lost her twin sister in a tower fall deemed a suicide. But Barbara is convinced that Hélène did not die by her own hand, and she's trapped Hélène's former classmates—her prime suspects—at her home with no phone lines, no cell reception, and no means of escape.

One by one, the alumnae fall prey to a madwoman. A disturbed sister's revenge . . . or a former coed's coverup? Faith must quickly unlock the secrets of Hélène's last night if she wants to leave the island alive.

(retrieved from Amazon Mon, 30 Sep 2013 13:39:47 -0400)

(see all 2 descriptions)

Faith Fairchild finds herself catering a nightmare get-together arranged by suspense writer Barbara Bailey Bishop, who is convinced her sister Helene did not commit suicide thirty years ago, but was murdered. Regarding her sister's former classmates as the prime suspects, Barbara has isolated them on a remote New England island with no means of communication or escape.… (more)

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