This past April, she was honored with a Lifetime Achievement Award from the nationally known mystery conference, Malice Domestic. However, her newest Faith Fairchild mystery, The Body in the Wardrobe, assures us Katherine still has a lot more achieving yet to do! Here's the summary:
Minster’s wife, caterer, and part-time sleuth Faith Fairchild pairs up with Sophie Maxwell, last seen in Body in the Birches . Sophie has moved to Savannah to be with her new husband, Will. But nothing throws cold water on a hot relationship faster than a dead body. Worse for Sophie, no one believes the body she knows she saw is real. Will, a private investigator, is spending an awful lot of time in Atlanta on a case he claims is urgent, and she’s been tasked with house hunting for them with his former sweetheart, who Sophie can’t help but suspect wishes Sophie would return to her Yankee roots!
Fortunately, Sophie has a good friend in Faith Fairchild. With teenage Amy being bullied by mean girls and husband Tom contemplating a major life change that will affect all the Fairchilds, Faith is eager for distraction in the form of some sleuthing. In between discussions of newlywed agita, rich Savannah customs and, of course, fabulous low country food, Faith and Sophie will pair up to unmask a killer!
Put another way: protagonist, location, or plot.
I’ve been thinking about these three a great deal lately in a somewhat philosophic way—receiving a lifetime achievement award, that incredible honor, seems to be making me more pensive than usual and I’m looking back at the books nounfully.
Is it my series character in the person of Faith Fairchild who dominates— is the most important element? Or is it where I chose to set the books? One of the ways I’ve hoped to keep the series fresh is to alternate the locale from the fictitious town of Aleford, west of Boston, with the “someplace else “ books—France, Norway, Italy, Vermont, Maine, Manhattan, and now Savannah Georgia. Very occasionally I’ll hear from a reader who wants all the books to take place in Aleford, like Miss Marple and St. Mary Mead. Should I have made that choice? I love to travel; did I get carried away?
Then there is plot. Many years ago I got up the nerve to ask my editor Ruth Cavin, who acquired The Body in the Belfry (1990) as the first mystery when she moved from Walker to St. Martin’s why she had picked my book. It wasn’t that Ruth wasn’t approachable, especially after we had had a martini or two together, but it seemed like a presumptuous question. She answered right away, “I can always fix plot”—this was very good news—“but, Katherine, I can never supply voice and yours was distinctive.” Does this mean, despite my relief, that plot wasn’t as essential as character?
I think it does, although I am open to hearing other views. Same with place. Wuthering Heights not on the Yorkshire moors—or “The Hound of the Baskervilles” in Kent, the garden of England? The Maltese Falcon in Paramus, NJ—I’m a Jersey girl, so can say this kind of thing? And so on.
Or are all three equally important to the mystery novel? I’m still going with Faith’s voice—or her equivalent in countless books that have been coming to mind. Person, place, or thing? Thoughts?
The Body in the Wardrobe is the 23rd in Katherine Hall Page’s Faith Fairchild series and her 30th book overall. She has published for middle grade and YA readers as well as a collection of short stories, Small Plates (2014), and a series cookbook, Have Faith inyour Kitchen (Orchises Press). She has been awarded Agathas for Best First, Best Novel, and Best SS and also was nominated for additional Agathas, an Edgar, Macavity, Mary Higgins Clark and the Maine Writers & Publishers Alliance Literary Award for Crime Fiction. She is the recipient of Malice Domestic 28th’s Lifetime Achievement Award. She lives in Maine and Massachusetts. You can find more info and recipes at her website, and friend her on Facebook.