Cover image for The trouble with Harriet
The trouble with Harriet
Cannell, Dorothy.
Personal Author:
Publication Information:
New York : Viking, 1999.
Physical Description:
274 pages ; 22 cm
Geographic Term:
Format :


Call Number
Material Type
Home Location
Item Holds
X Adult Fiction Mystery/Suspense
FICTION Adult Fiction Central Closed Stacks
X Adult Fiction Mystery/Suspense
X Adult Fiction Mystery/Suspense

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After her hard domestic labor in The Spring Cleaning Murders (pronounced "wickedly witty" by the Chicago Sun-Times) all Ellie Haskell wants is a romantic getaway with her dashing husband, Bentley. Their bags are all packed for a trip to France...until the arrival of Ellie's long-lost father, Morley Simons, toting the ashes of his platinum blond lady love, Harriet--a femme fatale who has become a highway fatality. He has promised to return the ashes to her relatives. But when another accident makes Morley a murder suspect, Ellie must ask herself: is he a pawn in a deadly game? And how can she save him from arrest? Furthermore, how does an absent-minded vicar's obsession with eleventh-century St. Ethelwort--patron saint of virility--relate to the mystery and to the secrets of her own heart? Soon it's clear that love can be a very dangerous thing.

Author Notes

Dorothy Cannell was born in Nottingham, England and moved to the United States when she was twenty. Her first Ellie Haskell novel, The Thin Woman, was selected as one of the 100 Favorite Mysteries of the Twentieth Century by the Independent Mystery Booksellers Association. Besides the Ellie Haskell Mysteries series, her other novels include God Save the Queen!, Naked Came the Farmer, The Sunken Sailor, and Sea Glass Summer. She is also a contributor to the popular Sisters in Crime anthologies.

(Bowker Author Biography)

Reviews 3

Booklist Review

Cannell's sweet and daffy cozies have an interior logic all their own, much as Gracie Allen's monologues followed their own path through George Burns' straight lines. Ellie Haskell is about to depart for a vacation with her dashing spouse when who should appear on the doorstep of Merlin Court but her long-lost father, who took off after Ellie's mother died and has scarce been heard of since. He carries the ashes of his ladylove, Harriet, to return them to her family in England. Ellie despairs of her vacation and instead is soon caught up in the local legend of St. Ethelwort, patron saint of virility, and, in no particular order, the return of her aunt the kleptomaniac; a fantastically absentminded vicar and his sturdy wife; and a funereal urn that is not what it seems. A local theater production of a homegrown farce forms the thrilling denouement, but the fun is in the descriptions of Ellie's lovely home, the overwrought dialogue, and Ellie's distracted adoration of her perfect husband, the chef and cookbook writer. --GraceAnne A. DeCandido

Publisher's Weekly Review

At the beginning of this slapstick sequel to The Spring Cleaning Murders, Ellie Haskell and her husband, Ben, have left their three children with his parents and are about to depart Chitterton Falls, England, for a romantic vacation in France. But before they can get away, Ellie's gallivanting father, Morley, who abandoned her after her mother's death, returns with an urn containing the ashes of his most recent girlfriend, Harriet. Morley is supposed to pass the urn to the deceased's closest relatives, who live near Ellie's home, but he's too distraught to part with the remains. As Ellie hears the tale of her father's short tryst and his beloved's sudden death, she suspects that Harriet may have been involved in some shady business. Her concern mounts when she meets Harriet's brusque relatives. Meanwhile, Ellie's cousin Freddy and her redoubtable housecleaner, Mrs. Malloy, worry over their parts in the upcoming parish play. As Ellie, Ben, Freddie and Mrs. Malloy try to cheer up the inconsolable Morley and convince him to relinquish Harriet's ashes, more people turn up searching for the urn, and Ellie begins to wonder what's really in the shoddy vessel and whether her father was involved in Harriet's demise. A forgetful pastor and Freddy's kleptomaniac mother provide additional humor for this oddball story dominated by daffy characters and physical comedy. The suspense is so slow going, in fact, that die-hard cozy fans may wonder what happened to the mystery in this novel, enjoyable as it is. Mystery Guild selection; author tour. (May) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved

Library Journal Review

Delightful series heroine Ellie Haskell (The Spring Cleaning Murders, LJ 5/1/98) returns, this time to help her suddenly reappearing father escape an accusation of murder in Chitterton Fells. Wit, humor, and clear-as-a-bell prose. [Mystery Guild selection.] (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.