Before she met and married the Reverend Thomas Fairchild and moved to sleepy little Aleford, Massachusetts, Faith Sibley Fairchild had a catering business in the most colorful, frenetic, and exciting city in the world...
Young, ambitious and single in New York City in the late '809s, Faith Sibley is energized by the early success of her Have Faith catering enterprise. But she's cast into an unexpected new role when she runs into old high school friend Emma Stanstead at a swanky uptown party: sleuth! An anonymous blackmmailer is threatening to expose certain secrets of socialite Emma's less than glamorous past -- thereby destroying her reputation and her conservative husband's fast-rising political career -- and Faith fearlessly leaps into the fray. Though she lacks experience, Faith's keen instinct, insight, and determination to unmask and extortionist quickly carry her deep into the high and low life of the bustling Big Apple. And when a murder raises the stakes, Faith realizes that it's not just her old friend's good name that's in peril...it's Emma's life itself.
It's the most wonderful time of the year: Fifth Avenue windows decorated for the season, holiday parties, Christmas shopping--and some blackmail and murder thrown in to spice things up. This prequel to an Agatha Award-winning series (The Body in the Bookcase, etc.) features regular Faith Sibley Fairchild in her younger days as a young Manhattanite wrapped up in her new catering company. Working a swanky party on the Upper East Side, she unexpectedly runs into former schoolmate Emma Stanstead, who is married to nascent politician Michael. Oddly (as they haven't seen each other in years), Emma confides in Faith at the party, telling her of a threatening blackmail note she's received. Faith immediately immerses herself in Emma's troubles, learning details about Emma's life that aren't exactly desirable for a politician's wife. Faith assiduously investigates as Emma hops between fundraising events and holiday balls. All clues lead to Nathan Fox, an underground radical leader, who was recently murdered in his Lower East Side apartment. Faith's discussions with Fox's comrades, agent and family leave her with puzzle pieces that seemingly don't fit, and the knotty plot has her naming multiple suspects right up to Christmas Eve. New Yorkers and suburbanites alike should enjoy this fast-paced mystery; and gastronomes will relish the aptly apple-flavored recipes that complete this work.