Withering Heights: An Ellie Haskell Mystery
by Dorothy Cannell
Crack out the teapot and cuddle up with the candelabra, Ellie Haskell is back for her 13th mystery, Withering Heights, by former Peorian Dorothy Cannell.
Dorothy Cannell has entertained mystery lovers for years with her witty British-flavored novels. Most of them were written right here in Peoria, where the author was raising a family and penning herself into mystery author fame. Her first Ellie Haskell novel, The Thin Woman, was selected by the Independent Mystery Booksellers Association as one of the 100 Favorite Mysteries of the Twentieth Century. A few years ago, after her children were successfully launched, Dorothy and her husband, Julian, moved to Maine to be near the ocean. It seems the waves of the Illinois River did little to quell the transplanted Englishwoman’s longing for the deep blue sea.
For the past five years, Ellie Haskell fans have had a longing for the next novel starring the formerly plump character who found the perfect husband, and readers won’t be disappointed. This time Ellie lets her fascination with Gothic romances pull her into the troubles of her husband Ben’s young cousin, Ariel, who has been dragged away to the mysterious Yorkshire moors by her parents. Ellie introduced Ariel to the Gothic romance art form and the two are sure that the dire happenings at Cragstone House, purchased with lottery winnings, can be solved by Ellie’s sleuthing before something even worse happens.
Mrs. Roxie Malloy, housekeeper extraordinaire and Ellie’s crime-solving partner, just happens to have a long-lost sister in the same area, so off they go to the Yorkshire moors with Ellie’s husband Ben in tow. In Dorothy’s delightful style, Withering Heights is peppered with ominous characters and happenings. A fortune teller makes dire predictions and falling plaster reveals more than anyone ever wanted to know, yet Ellie and her team of sleuths persevere.
About the time the reader decides there really isn’t a mystery to solve and the overactive imaginations of Ellie and young Ariel are to blame, the author plunges you deep into a story of crime that sudden wealth seems to attract.
Dorothy’s writing is as wry as ever and her character Ellie Haskell is just as charming as in her previous novels. The multiple twists and turns are varied, but the crimes, while illegal, are not as horrible as the unusual mystery. How could any mystery lover not be entranced by a book that starts off describing a storm as, “fit only for human beasts of prey and the shadowy vigils of unholy spirits denied respite beneath a sanctified churchyard earth.” Those who enjoy a good puzzle will have difficulty discerning “who dun it” until right up to the very last page of this enchanting story. a&s