Friday, August 2, 2013

Book Review: The Body in the Piazza by Katherine Hall Page

If you ever wanted to take a culinary tour of Italy, but somehow never gotten around to making enough money to afford it, reading this book will provide you with a nice basis to imagine how your tour could end up – without the murder of course. Faith Fairchild and her husband, the Reverend Tom Fairchild have given themselves a tour of Rome and Tuscany as an anniversary gift. Since Faith is working as caterer and solves only the occasional murder, the description of the Italian food devoured by the couple are extraordinarily detailed and will make your mouth water. In addition, Katherine Hall Page manages to provide descriptions of the places and people with so much detail that the reader can really imagine being in Italy right beside Faith and Tom. 

Faith and Tom arrive at the hotel in Rome and there they meet Freddy Ives, an Englishman, who knows Rome well and introduces them to the specialties that a local restaurant serves. After a night of good food and wine, the vacation is off to a good start for Faith and her husband. But the relaxation is only short-lived because the couple stumbles across Freddy dying. His last words do not make sense and without Faith or Tom having made any relevant observations to who may want to kill Freddie, the police are on their own in solving the murder. Or are they? Because as Faith and Tom travel to Tuscany to spend some time at the cooking school Cucina della Rossi, owned by Francesca Rossi. Francesca used to work for Faith, but has now found her true calling in cooking and Faith cannot wait to dive into the local cuisine. But strange things happen and the bad ghosts from Rome seem to have followed the couple. 

Can Faith solve the origin of the bad luck that follows them from Rome and unravel the cause of Freddie’s death? In between sampling Italian food, described in such detail by the author that you can easily picture the food on the place, Faith starts sleuthing. Katherine Hall Page has written an extraordinary book. While it is a mystery story at its core, the description of the locations, such as the many markets or wonderful food offerings in Rome, are so detailed that the book could almost be a travelogue. I really enjoyed learning some more about Italian cuisine. Because as a caterer, Faith will not settle for everyday Italian fare and so this book, besides being a wonderful and entertaining mystery story, has the benefit to introducing the reader to several interesting local dishes.

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