Illinois State Library

Illinois Center for the Book

Individual Author Record

General Information

Name:  Dorothy Cannell  

Pen Name: None

Genre: Mystery

Audience: Adult;

Born: 1943 in Nottingham, England

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Illinois Connection

Dorothy married Julian Cannell in 1964 and they lived in Peoria, Illinois for many years.

Biographical and Professional Information

Dorothy Cannell moved to the United States in 1963 to work as a secretary in Chicago. After living getting married, she moved to Peoria, Illinois with her husband. They lived there until he retired and they now live in Belfast, Maine. Cannell's mysteries are set in her native England. They feature Ellie Haskell, interior decorator and Ben Haskell, writer and chef, and Hyacinth and Primrose Tramwell, a pair of dotty sisters and owners of the Flowers Detection Agency. She has been a member of Mystery Writers of America, American Crime Writers, Sisters in Crime, Novelists, Inc.

Published Works Expand for more information

Titles At Your Library

The Thin Woman
ISBN: 1585470082

Center Point Pub. 2000

Reluctant to show up at her family reunion carrying so many extra pounds, unmarried, overweight Ellie Simons hires Bentley T. Haskell to pose as her fiance, thus beginning a weekend of romance, jealousy, and murder. Reprint. PW. K.

Down the Garden Path
ISBN: 1585472182

Center Point Pub. 2002

Scheming her way into the ancestral home of two endearing elderly ladies, Tessa Fields, an orphan in search of her origins, senses that something is rotten in a proper English town.

The Widows Club (Ellie Haskell)
ISBN: 0553277944

Bantam. 1989

Stylish, amusing, and deliciously wicked—a superb murder mystery from the acclaimed author of The Thin Woman

Divorce can end a marriage. Murder can do it better.

Meet Ellie Haskell, née Simons, thin woman, newlywed, potential murderess. Her life in charming Chitterton Fells promises nothing but endless bliss—until she meets two of the most cunning and unlikely private eyes ever to track down a diabolical killer. Misses Hyacinth and Primrose Tramwell of Flowers Detection Agency have been called in by a major insurance company to investigate the deplorably high incidence of sudden death among the married men of this picturesque municipality. The spinster sleuths soon discover that all the husbands had been unfaithful and their deaths neatly arranged by an enterprising social organization called The Widows Club.

But to find the mastermind behind this insidious ring, the Tramwells need an unhappy and betrayed wife. Enter Ellie, who will endanger life and husband to join The Widows Club and arrange to have her dearly beloved . . . dead.

Mum's the Word (Beeler Large Print Mystery Series)
ISBN: 1574903527

Thomas t Beeler. 2001

Book by Cannell, Dorothy

Femmes Fatal (Ellie Haskell)
ISBN: 0553296841

Crimeline. 1994

Once Ellie Haskell's life was a fairy tale: the one about the overweight, underpaid interior designer who falls rapturously in love with a gorgeous prince and lives happily ever after. But now, four months after the birth of her twins, her worst nightmare has come true: the princess has turned into a frog and the bliss has gone out of the bedroom.

Can a course in the sensual arts, featuring naughty nighties and Peach Melba Love Rub, rekindle the romance she and her adored Bentley once shared? It's a question that leads Ellie straight to an organization called Fully Female.

But before she can say "Marriage Makeover," one fellow vamp becomes a sex-crazed zombie and another meets her end in a fatally frothy bubble bath. Then a third victim of amour turns up dead, and Ellie realizes it's more than ill luck. Can Ellie catch a crazed killer before love gets a bad name.

How to Murder Your Mother-In-Law
ISBN: 1423354478

Brilliance Audio. 2008

The Thin Woman - Ellie Haskell - is back, in the most mischievous, marvelous mystery to hit the marital pike yet. Ellie's mum-in-law Magdalene has moved in permanently and poor Ellie finds herself up to her formerly fat neck in crocheted doilies and cheap statues of Catholic saints. As Magdalene runs her finger over every surface in Merlin's Court (checking, undoubtedly, for dust), Eillie discovers that she isn't the only woman in Chitterdon Fells with the ultimate mother-in-law problem - three others are experiencing the same living hell. One tipsy evening, four imaginary plots to bump off the resident in-laws are hatched and those plots start coming lethally true in real life. Ellie once again plunges into a desperate chase to outwit a killer.

How to Murder the Man of Your Dreams (Ellie Haskell)
ISBN: 0553573608

Bantam. 1996

Life has been hectic in the Haskell household, but a lull in household affairs should allow Ellie time enough to slim down, pick up the threads of her interior design career, and kick the romance-reading habit that keeps her from her marital boudoir. But murder rears its ugly head when the body of the Chitterdon Fells librarian found sprawled among the library stacks.

The only positive side of the untimely demise is the arrival of male romance cover model, Karisma, come to town to strut his tawny mane and sun-bronzed muscles for a fund-raiser in the late lamented librarian's name. But when hunky Karisma's entourage is poisoned, and the spouse of a Library League newlywed dies mysteriously, fantasy life careens toward a collision course with reality. Ellie must find a clever killer before she meets a sinister and decidedly unromantic fate! Fizzing with deadly wit and outrageous secrets, How To Murder The Man Of Your Dreams is a mystery to swoon for.

God Save the Queen!
ISBN: 055357468X

Crimeline. 1998

At gloomy Gossinger Hall, where the chill of centuries calls for three sweaters, Sir Henry Gossinger has just dropped a bombshell. After hours of unexplained penance on his knees in the chapel, he has announced to his unwitting relatives that he has announced to his unwitting relatives that he has written a new will...bequeathing everything to his devoted butler, Hutchins. Not since the days of George III, when roguish Sir Rowland Gossinger was accused of stealing the queen's silver tea strainer, has such a scandal threatened the family honor. But worse is yet to come.

For Hutchins is missing, and it soon becomes apparent that the only thing the distinguished butler will inherit is a place in the cemetery. Found head down in the principle fixture of the twelfth-century privy, he may have been the victim of foul play. And what could Hutchins have meant by his dying words, "God save the Queen"?

To Flora, the deceased's sweet young granddaughter, Hutchins' death is a tragic loss. Raised by him in Gossinger Hall, she remembers her grandfather's dedication to the noble Gossingers--including Sir Henry's social climbing wife--and all the stately legends he told her over the silver polish. Only a new life in London, and the kindness of Vivian Gossinger, nephew and former heir to Sir Henry, can ease her pain.

Yet soon Gossinger Hall's history of treachery and intrigue--topped by the ongoing rift with the Royal Family regarding the long-lost tea strainer--casts its shadow over Flora. And suddenly she finds herself caught in a murderously tangled web, where even a familiar face could hide the heart of a cold-blooded killer.

The Spring Cleaning Murders (Ellie Haskell Mysteries, No. 8)
ISBN: 0140276157

Penguin Books. 1999

The award-winning author of The Thin Woman sends her heroine, Ellie Haskell, fresh from the diet wars, on a rollicking hunt for the killer of a fellow member of the Chitterton Fells Charwomen's Association. Reprint. Tour.

The Spring Cleaning Murders
ISBN: 0641589026

Viking. 1998

The Spring Cleaning Murders (Ellie Haskell Mysteries, No. 8)
ISBN: 0140276157

Penguin Books. 1999

The award-winning author of The Thin Woman sends her heroine, Ellie Haskell, fresh from the diet wars, on a rollicking hunt for the killer of a fellow member of the Chitterton Fells Charwomen's Association. Reprint. Tour.

The Trouble with Harriet (Ellie Haskell Mysteries, No. 9)
ISBN: 0670886297

Viking Adult. 1999

Ellie Haskell returns for another hilarious mystery that begins when Ellie's long-vanished father reappears in her life, carrying the ashes of his lost love and drawing Ellie into a murderous puzzle. 17,500 first printing. Tour.

Bridesmaids Revisited: An Ellie Haskell Mystery
ISBN: 0141001860

Penguin Books. 2001

Ellie visits three elderly women, the bridesmaids from her late grandmother's wedding, who have informed her that her grandmother needs to communicate a message to her from beyond the grave. Reprint.

The Importance of Being Ernestine: An Ellie Haskell Mystery
ISBN: 0142002844

Penguin Books. 2003

Ellie Haskell becomes drawn into a mystery with her moonlighting housekeeper when a modish matriarch reports that the surviving daughter of a late ex-employee may be seeking revenge by killing off her mother's former employers and their descendants.

Goodbye, Ms. Chips (Ellie Haskell Mysteries, No. 13)
ISBN: 0312343388

Minotaur Books. 2008

“Ellie, the headmistress wants to see you.”
Words to strike terror in the heart of any inmate of St. Roberta’s boarding school who has failed to turn in her Latin prep, left out London on a map drawn of England, or prowled the ruins of the medieval abbey at dead of night. Ellie has been guilty of all these sins and more.
Fortunately, however, she is no longer a pudgy, insecure adolescent but a happily married interior designer with three lively children and a beautiful home by the sea. The only cloud in the sky on this lovely day in June is the message relayed by her friend Dorcas, who became games mistress at St. Roberta’s when the former coach, Ms. Chips, retired. Having heard of Ellie’s success as an amateur detective, the headmistress, Mrs. Battle, wants Ellie to come and find out who has stolen the Loverly sports trophy and is seeking to bring embarrassment to the school.
Her less than rosy memories of St. Roberta’s notwithstanding, Ellie cannot refuse Dorcas’s entreaties and finds herself in the thick of boarding school life, where an apparent schoolgirl prank soon gives way to murder.

Withering Heights (Ellie Haskell)
ISBN: 031294683X

St. Martin's Paperbacks. 2008

When her in-laws invite her to Yorkshire moors, Ellie Haskell can't resist. The name "Cragstone House" just sounds so much like the delightfully musty manors she reads about in books! And so she and her husband set off for Yorkshire, accompanied by their irrepressible housekeeper and co-conspirator in crime solving, Mrs. Roxie Malloy. But things at Cragstone turn out far less idyllic than Ellie expected. First the kindly cook, Mrs. Cake, suffers a mysterious fall down the stairs. Then a visiting vicar meets his death after drinking a cup of tea. Ellie has always thought it would be wonderful to be the heroine of a Gothic romance…but now she's beginning to wonder: Will she and Roxie be able to solve the mystery and get out of Brontë country alive? Or has Ellie reached the tragic dead end of her own fairy tale?

She Shoots to Conquer (Ellie Haskell Mysteries)
ISBN: 0312343396

Minotaur Books. 2009

On a dark and foggy night, charming amateur sleuth Ellie Haskell, her husband Ben, and her plucky sidekick Mrs. Malloy find themselves stranded at a grand estate on the Yorkshire moors. Lord Belfrey of Mucklesfeld Manor has decided to save his crumbling establishment by offering himself as the prize on a TV reality show titled “Here Comes the Bride.”Thrilled at the prospect of marrying a lord, Mrs. Malloy eagerly joins the competition. After one of the potential brides is shot during an archery contest, Ellie begins to explore the dark passageways and hidden nooks of the delightfully Gothic estate—but she may not be prepared for the secrets lurking behind closed doors.

Sea Glass Summer
ISBN: 0727881833

Severn House Publishers. 2012

During the course of a long, hot summer in the picturesque coastal village of Sea Glass, shattered lives are restored and new romance blossoms. - Recovering from a painful divorce, Sarah Draycott has moved to the picture-postcard village of Sea Glass on the Maine coast, and is soon caught up in the lives of its inhabitants. As she helps elegant but troubled widow Gwen cope with her desperately ill son, and assists nine-year-old orphan Oliver in uncovering the secrets surrounding the mysterious Cully Mansion, Sarah’s broken heart begins to heal. She isn’t looking for new romance – but love finds a way of seeking someone out just when they least expect it . . .


Cannell's 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.

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