on 4 November 2007
Ellie Haskell is irritated by her mother-in-law, as are various friends of hers. One day they all get together in the pub and have a conversation in which they discuss various methods of bumping off their irritating mothers-in-law. They are disconcerted when one of the mothers-in-law is subsequently murdered, and two others have attempts made on their lives. Evidently someone took their conversation seriously.
Having read enthusiastic reviews of this book, I had high hopes of it, but I thought it was feeble. For a start, the murder doesn't even take place until three-quarters of the way through the book, it's almost an afterthought. And the characters are so silly and exaggerated (apart from the rather bland heroine and her equally bland husband), it's impossible to get up any interest in them. I mean, a woman who organises a pie-baking contest to choose a husband for her son? Who could possibly believe in that, or in a woman willing to marry a wet lettuce who let himself be pushed around by his mother like that? I know you don't read murder mysteries for the gritty realism, but honestly there are limits.
A silly book with feeble characters and the mystery crammed into the last 50 pages or so. Not my idea of a good murder mystery.
on 4 May 1997
A smart and funny cross between a comedy of manners and a murder mystery, Dorothy Cannell's How To Murder Your Mother-in-Law is a true delight.
The heroine Ellie Haskell has a sensual and handsome husband, adorable two-year-old twins, a fashion disaster for a housekeeper who is well-meaning albeit always slightly tipsy, and a cousin who enters through the windows -- never the doors -- of their English mansion quaintly named "Merlin's Castle."
Into this charming mix arrives her straight-laced mother-in-law and mostly deaf father-in-law who have their own surprises in store for Ellie and her husband.
After one extremely frazzled dinner party that goes awry, Ellie marches down to the pub where she comes upon the local rector, the daughter-in-law of the local patroness of the arts, and another friend who are all having mother-in-law problems.
Their fantasies of "doing the old girl in" begin to be realized much to these ladies' horror. Ellie must move swiftly to unravel the mysteries of these deaths to save her own mother-in-law.
on 30 July 1998
I've only recently discovered Cannell's Ellie Haskell series and am quite thrilled with the find. I've just finished this one (How to Murder Your Mother In Law) and was again wildly entertained. At times while reading, especially during the coversations between Ellie and Mrs. M (a character introduced in earlier books), I laughed out loud (much to the amusement of my son). And the interactions between various women in the town and their mothers-in-law will strike a cord with many a reader. I can't wait to dive into the next adventure of Ellie (and her wonderful husband, adorable twins, and faithful cat).
on 12 January 2003
The story is good and will apeal to all but especially those who have a troublesome mother-in-law. There are enough suspects, although if you are an ardent mystery fan you will no doubt guess the murderer and motive by the half way point although the author will try and make you change your mind, but getting there is fun.
The only niggle with the book is that you don't serve blood pudding (black pudding) with a spoon.