I can’t believe I haven’t reviewed any of the Dorothy Cannell books yet.
The first book in this series is called “The Thin Woman” and is, in my opinion, a classic in the cozy mystery genre.
This is a later book.
These books are centered on Ellie Haskell, a young wife and mother. Her life is filled with absurdity. The books are clever and witty and charming.
In this book, she has the idea to invite her in-laws for a formal dinner. Her mother-in-law is a devout Catholic. Her father-in-law is a devout Jew, and so she thinks it would be nice to celebrate their anniversary. She cooks a reasonable good dinner (although I always wonder why she cooks at all, since her husband is a professional chef) except for the chocolate pudding, which she inadvertently made with chocolate flavored laxatives.
But the biggest issue is that she invited a local woman who had been a friend of her in-laws when they were young and that they haven’t spoken to in forty years. As it happens, they had stopped talking because the mother-in-law thought her friend Tricks was trying to seduce her husband.
There’s a terrible fight and the husband takes Tricks home, only to be returned by the cops because they decided to skinny dip in the ocean and lost their clothes. At that point, the Magdalene (the mother-in-law) kicks him out.
As it happens, there’s a rash of problematic mothers-in-law in town. Trick’s daughter-in-law suffers from her mom’s cavalier attitude towards life. The local member of the aristocracy, Lady Kitty, dominates and tortures her husband and daughter-in-law. The local vicar’s mother-in-law smokes in the house and is cheeky to the bishop.
They all complain and try to find a way to solve their problem, but when Lady Kitty is killed when the brake lines on her bike are cut, they start to suspect each other. And then Tricks is poisoned.
They have to find out who is bumping off the mothers-in-law before they are all killed and ideally also get the women out of their houses before they lose their minds.