Kathy: The Body in the Casket is said to evoke both the board game Clue and the film Murder by Death. Those are two of my favorites! Do you like Clue? Do you ever play the board game?
KHP: I come from a board playing family and Clue is our all-time favorite. Somehow I managed to marry someone whose only fault is a disinclination to have anything to do with these games, even Scrabble! Happily during the summer and at the holidays I always have fellow enthusiasts. I have several editions of Clue, including one from the 1950s. The game, Cluedo, was invented in England in 1949. The name was changed to Clue in the US by Parker Brothers, as well as other things—Dr. Black, the victim, became Mr. Boddy—but the basic game is the same.
Kathy: Murder by Death is my favorite mystery movie and ranks as one of my top 5 films of all time. Is it one of yours as well? Do you have a favorite scene? Or character?
KHP: It is absolutely one of my all time favorites and picking a scene is like asking to pick a favorite child! I do love Alec Guinness as the blind butler and the Charlestons (think Nick and Nora)—David Niven and Maggie Smith are perfection. You got me thinking about other mystery movies, aside from those starring Michael Caine, which I mention in my Author’s Note: Deathtrap and Sleuth. I know it was panned, but I’ve always liked the 1985 movie, Clue, especially Madeline Kahn and Christopher Lloyd’s performances. One of my other all time favorites is the British movie, The Wrong Box (also Michael Caine, a very young one). And then of course The Maltese Falcon and the original Murder on the Orient Express. I could go on…And am curious about your five favorites overall. North By Northwest tops my list! P.S. Charles Adams did the fabulous poster for Murder by Death.
Kathy: In The Body in the Casket Faith Fairchild is invited to a birthday party for a Broadway legend. Have you attended a performance of Broadway? Do you prefer musicals or plays?
KHP: I grew up in northern New Jersey not far from New York City and going to the theater was a major, and favorite, part of my life. You could go from box office to box office before a Saturday matinee and get inexpensive tickets for plays or musicals. I was lucky to see musicals like The King and I, as well as dramas—Richard Burton in Hamlet was the highpoint. Again in the Author’s Note, I write about all this. It is terrible that Broadway ticket prices have made theater almost inaccessible. Fortunately we have great local and regional productions. As for preferring plays or musicals, it all depends on the show!
Kathy: Faith is invited to Rowan House is a secluded sprawling Arts and Crafts mansion. Is this mansion based on a real property? Is Arts and Crafts a favorite architectural style for you?
KHP: First, yes the Arts and Crafts style is my favorite, both in its architectural and decorative forms in the US as well as the UK. And Rowan House is most definitely based on a real property in almost every way—Stonehurst, the Robert Treat Paine estate in Waltham, Massachusetts. It was designed by Henry Hobson Richardson with landscape design by Frederick Law Olmsted and I think it’s the only one of their collaborations that is open to the public. Stonehurst was completed in 1886 and sits on 109 acres. We live only a few miles away, but I had never heard of it (like Faith and Rowan House) until we went there for a friend’s wedding. Since then I have returned to both the house and walking trails often. Stonehurst is a gem!
Kathy: Was there a specific inspiration for this story?
KHP: As you have already figured out—the game of Clue! I’ve always wanted to write a traditional country house mystery, inspired by and an homage to Agatha Christie. Hercule Poirot was introduced in The Mysterious Affair at Styles. My love of theater supplied the rest. The producer, Max Dane, is throwing himself a 70th birthday weekend long party with Faith as caterer (and undercover sleuth). All the guests were involved in his only failed production 20 years earlier—Heaven or Hell The Musical. Faith comes up with dishes for the birthday dinner that reference both—Pasta Fra Diavolo, Fallen Angel cocktails and others. It was fun researching dishes that related to above or below!
Kathy: Are you able to share any future plans for Faith?
KHP: I have started on the 25th book in the series, The Body in the Wake, which takes place on Sanpere, the island I created in Penobscot Bay in Maine. I am bringing back Sophie Maxwell who appeared in The Body in the Birches and The Body in the Wardrobe. I like the interactions she and Faith have had as they worked together to unmask the killers in the books. Sophie, a young bride, and Faith with teenaged kids, are at different points in their lives, but total kindred spirits.
Kathy: When it comes to writing I understand there are 2 general camps-plotters, who diligently plot their stories, and pansters, who fly by the seat of their pants. Are you a plotter, a panster, or do you fall somewhere in between?
KHP: Like most writers the plot and characters (other than Faith, her family and friends), percolate for a while before writing a single word. When I do put finger to key, I know whodunit and to whom it was done. As I write things may change, particularly with subplots, but I always know where I am going.
Kathy: Will you share any other upcoming books?
KHP: I have written for younger readers—the Christie & Company series—also a series cookbook, Have Faith in Your Kitchen, a number of short stories, and a YA, Club Meds. I have an idea for a novella in the first person, Faith’s closest friend and neighbor Pix Miller in which she describes one of Faith’s cases much like Watson. I also have an idea for a romantic suspense novel that I hope to write one of these days. Mary Stewart is a favorite of mine.
The Body in the Casket
by Katherine Hall Page
on Tour December 4, 2017 - January 12, 2018
The inimitable Faith Fairchild returns in a chilling New England whodunit, inspired by the best Agatha Christie mysteries and with hints of the timeless board game Clue.
Producer/director of a string of hit musicals, Max Dane—a Broadway legend—is throwing a lavish party to celebrate his seventieth birthday. At the house as they discuss the event, Faith’s client makes a startling confession. "I didn’t hire you for your cooking skills, fine as they may be, but for your sleuthing ability. You see, one of the guests wants to kill me."
Faith’s only clue is an ominous birthday gift the man received the week before—an empty casket sent anonymously containing a twenty-year-old Playbill from Max’s last, and only failed, production—Heaven or Hell. Consequently, Max has drawn his guest list for the party from the cast and crew. As the guests begin to arrive one by one, and an ice storm brews overhead, Faith must keep one eye on the menu and the other on her host to prevent his birthday bash from becoming his final curtain call.
Full of delectable recipes, brooding atmosphere, and Faith’s signature biting wit, The Body in the Casket is a delightful thriller that echoes the beloved mysteries of Agatha Christie and classic films such as Murder by Death and Deathtrap.
Book Details:Genre: Mystery
Published by: William Morrow
Publication Date: December 5th 2017
Number of Pages: 238
ISBN: 0062439561 (ISBN13: 9780062439567)
Series: Faith Fairchild, 24
Purchase Links: Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Goodreads