THE IMPORTANCE OF BEING ERNESTINE: An Ellie Haskell Mystery
In her dozenth delight, Agatha nominee Cannell dishes up a dizzy spoof of American hard-boiled private-eye fiction (after 2001's Bridesmaids Revisited). Ellie Haskell attempts a surprise for her husband, Ben, by redecorating his study, but when her gift seemingly bombs, she seeks comfort and wisdom from her worldly daily, Mrs. Roxy Malloy. Mrs. Malloy has been moonlighting as Girl Friday to a local PI, "Milk" Jugg, and Ellie's nocturnal visit to Jugg's office coincides with the appearance of a new client, Lady Krumley. Mrs. Malloy graciously allows Ellie to act as her assistant in Jugg's absence, and they plunge fearlessly and fecklessly into Lady Krumley's case. Many years widowed, Lady Krumley once sacked a parlor maid, Flossie, whom she suspected of having stolen a valuable brooch. Flossie also managed to get herself in the family way while at Moultty Towers, and later expired from tuberculosis while trying to care for herself and her daughter, Ernestine. With her dying breath, Flossie cursed the Krumley family, and various Krumleys have recently shuffled off the mortal coil in amusingly eccentric ways. Lady Krumley wants to find the missing Ernestine and right ancient wrongs, hoping to avert any further mysterious accidents. Using Ellie's cover as an interior designer, the two gumshoes besiege the denizens of Moultty Towers, and the game is afoot. Cannell orchestrates plenty of laughs along with a clever plot, merrily winking at readers as she pokes fun at numerous genre conventions. (June 10)
Forecast:It's no coincidence that the artwork resembles that of Penguin's redesigned P.G. Wodehouse series. Handselling to Jeeves and Wooster fans not already Cannell converts could provide a boost.
Release date: 06/01/2002