When the pandemic hit, readers wondered how that would be incorporated into their favorite long-running contemporary crime fiction series. And while it may seem slightly odd, some extremely devoted fans even found themselves wondering how their favorite characters themselves navigated the stresses of the pandemic, as though they were “real world” friends down the street. One of the series that attracts such a loyal fan base is Katherine Hall Page’s Faith Fairchild Mystery series—The Body in the Web is the twenty-sixth book in that series and the effects of the pandemic play a vital role in both Faith’s life and in the type of mystery she finds herself intwined in.
In a nod to just how realistic the Faith Fairchild series is, Katherine Hall Page instantly transports readers back to those moments in mid-March 2020 when the World changed forever. Faith and her family are isolated at their home in Aleford, Massachusetts. Like many families with school-aged children, the change in routine was seismic, but required her children—one in high school, the other in college—to adapt to the sudden change to online education. Even the local town hall meetings transferred to the Zoom platform, which is where the mystery begins. During one of these community “gatherings,” a Zoom bomber—an uninvited guest broadcasting unwanted content—interrupts the proceedings and throws Faith’s friend Claudia into the line of fire. When Claudia ends up dead soon afterward, Faith is on the case.
Many readers may still be reluctant to dive into a plot dealing with the still unfolding pandemic, but rest assured that Katherine Hall Page approached this with care and compassion, reminding us of what we all faced on the day-to-day level without venturing into the political side of things. Because fans of the series have followed Faith, her family, and her friends for years, there was no way to avoid discussing how the societal shifts brought about by the Covid pandemic affected this community. In many ways, this book does a service for future generations by documenting the conditions and methods by which ordinary people confronted such an extraordinary danger.
The quarantining requirements could easily have made the sleuthing clunky and boring, but Page does a good job of showing how Faith and her friends transitioned to digital sleuthing—with a deep dive into the dark web and the nefarious goings-on there. The availability of Covid vaccines also weave their way into the plot allowing for more—and necessary—personal interaction for the characters in the later stages of the investigation.
The Body in the Web is a streamlined novel—clocking in at just 272 pages. Katherine Hall Page unfurls the story in shifting timelines, using universal touchstones to show society’s evolution at various stages of the pandemic which helps to help orient the reader. Katherine Hall Page allows readers to get to know all the important characters so that when the culprit is revealed it’s ultimately a satisfying ending. All the hallmarks that signify a Katherine Hall Page Faith Fairchild Mystery are here, but it is really the depiction of everyday life during our recent pandemic that will resonate the longest with readers.
Disclaimer: An print copy of this title was provided to BOLO Books by the publisher. No promotion was promised and the above is an unbiased review of the novel.