Faith Fairchild, heroine of Katherine Hall Page's The Body in the Belfry returns to amateur sleuthing in The Body in the Kelp. This time around, Faith and her husband, Tom Fairchild, the handsome young minister, have left the little village of Aleford, Massachusetts for a summer on Sanpere Island, off the coast of Maine. But Tom is called away to a three-week religious retreat in New Hampshire, leaving Faith to amuse herself and care for baby Benjamin, now safely into his "terrible twos." The summer begins innocently enough, with Faith involved in a seemingly harmless mystery, a hunt for treasure, the clues to which are cryptically embedded in a patchwork quilt. Then she and young Benjamin almost stumble over the body of another summer resident along the beach, and Faith is forced into more serious — and dangerous — "detection."
In Page's unengaging second novel ( The Body in the Belfry ) Faith Fairchild spends an August vacation on Sanpere Island, Maine, with her two-year-old son while her minister husband goes on a religious retreat. At an auction, Faith buys a quilt made by recently deceased Matilda Prescott, who bequeathed her Victorian mansion to two off-islanders, much to the distress of locals who believe rumors that a treasure of gold is hidden there. Walking on the beach, Faith finds the body of one of the house's new owners; another murder follows and Faith's house is ransacked. She then guesses that the killer is looking for the quilt whose pattern of boxes and squares may form a map to the gold. No active sleuth, Faith lets circumstances involve her. She is not a believable heroine, and although we are told that she and Tom, who joins her before the resolution, are a loving couple, their interaction is frequently contentious. Nor do the lengthy descriptions of the island capture our attention.