The Body in the Wardrobe
by Katherine Hall Page
Minster’s wife, caterer, and part-time sleuth Faith Fairchild pairs up with Sophie Maxwell, last seen in Body in the Birches and now a newlywed living in historic Savannah, Georgia, where Sophie crosses paths with murder.
Attorney Sophie Maxwell has come 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 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, surprising Savannah customs and, of course, fabulous low country food, Faith and Sophie will pair up to unmask a killer!
Book Details:Genre: Cozy Mystery
Published by: William Morrow
Publication Date: April 26th 2016
Number of Pages: 256
ISBN: 0062439502 (ISBN13: 9780062439505)
Series: Faith Fairchild Mystery
Photograph by Jean Fogelberg
Excerpt:Her limbs were frozen in place as she stared down at the man, a dark shape against the rich colors of the Oriental carpet on the floor. It was impossible to believe. A body in the wardrobe?
She opened her mouth, took a deep breath, but couldn’t make a sound. And then as if a starter’s gun had gone off, she tore down the stairs and found herself in the kitchen, staring at a door she knew was locked. Just as all the doors were.
Her phone! She looked down at her bare legs. The phone was in the bedroom. She’d taken it out of her skirt. The skirt she was about to hang in the wardrobe. The wardrobe where the dead man had been. Waiting for her to open the door.
Think, Sophie, think! She snatched the landline receiver from the counter, punching in 9-1-1, turned the lock, and wrenched the door open, stumbling into the cool night air. Relief started to flood over her until she realized the killer could be hiding behind the stacks of lumber and bags of cement that filled that garden at the back of the house. Quickly she darted to the path surrounding the house and the gate beyond. She pushed down on the handle; it opened easily.
There was no front yard, only a small patch of ivy with a cast iron planter at the foot of the stairs leading to the front door. Gloria had filled the urn with red cyclamen, evergreens, and pinecones. Sophie moved across to the square and stood under a streetlight. No cars were passing and no one was on the sidewalks, although lights were on in most of the houses.
Her call was picked up. Listening to the voice on the other end saying “this call is being recorded,” Sophie struggled to clear her throat, finally gasping out, “There’s a dead man in my bedroom. He’s been stabbed.”
The remarkably calm-sounding woman on the line responded by asking Sophie’s name, the address, and if she was still inside the house. Sophie answered, her voice getting stronger. Her heart began to slow and her mind began to clear.
“Can you confirm the identity of the dead man?”
“No, I don’t know.” Her thoughts swirled again. Who was he? One of the crew working on the house? She was almost positive she had never seen him before, yet it had all happened so fast she hadn’t gotten more than a glimpse of his face.
“There is a squad car in your area and will be with you immediately,” the dispatcher said. “Are you alone?”
“Yes,” Sophie answered. “I’m alone.” Very alone.
But not for long.
Two police cars, lights flashing, pulled up. Officers wasted no time rushing into the house—through the back when Sophie told them she thought the front was locked. A female officer took Sophie into one of the cars and put a blanket around her. Sophie hadn’t realized she was shivering until she felt the warmth. She was able to answer questions—her name again and a description of the deceased—“At least six feet tall. Heavyset. Long dark hair. Greasy. Dark clothing. Maybe jeans.” She closed her eyes, trying to see it again. Not wanting to see it again.
“Can you describe the weapon?” The officer was busy taking notes.
“A knife with a long, thick black handle. I couldn’t see the blade. It was . . .” Sophie felt her throat close and stopped.
“That’s fine. You’re doing just fine, honey. Is there someone we can call? Family?”
Sophie almost laughed. An hysterical sort of laugh. Her accent had betrayed her. The question mark after “family” could have been drawn in the air with neon it was so vivid. She wasn’t from here.
“My husband is in Atlanta working. This is my mother-in-law’s house.”
Neighbors had gathered a safe distance away from the action. Sophie could see them in small knots speculating on what piece of Savannah news was unfolding. She was overwhelmed with fatigue. The fatigue that had haunted her since the night of the party. She wanted Will. Will, her husband, her beloved. And she wanted him now. Tears gathered in the corners of her eye and blurred the surreal scene outside the squad car window.
The door opened and the officer who had been the first to take off for the house slid next to Sophie.
Sophie wiped her eyes with her hand and sat up straight, clutching the blanket around her. “Yes?”
“You did say that the man fell out of the wardrobe in the bedroom at the top of the stairs in the front of the house?”
“Yes, I was putting my clothes away and he . . .” Her voice gave out again for a moment, but she regained it. “He came tumbling right out and I could see he was dead.”
The officer’s voice softened. “There’s no one in the house, dead or alive, darlin’.”