cover image The Body in the Kelp

The Body in the Kelp

Katherine Hall Page. St. Martin's Press, $16.95 (212pp) ISBN 978-0-312-05392-5

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. (Jan.)