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    Review of THE IMPORTANCE OF BEING ERNESTINE by Dorothy Cannell


    Viking, 2002

    Ellie Haskell and her housekeeper, Mrs. Malloy are visiting in the detective's office Malloy cleans when a late client drops in. An elderly aristocrat claims that her family is suffering from a curse left behind by a falsely accused maid. The woman, believing that Ellie and Malloy are detectives, asks them to investigate. A gunman attempts to persuade them to drop the case, but only makes them more anxious to find the truth.

    Egged on by her friend, Ellie agrees and the two women set off on a proper English play of manners. There are no end of suspects: a nephew who may have killed his parents with an exploding train set; the nephew's wife who is interested in blackmail; actresses turned maid; the elderly lady herself; and the mysteriously missing Ernestine. It takes continued efforts for Ellie and Malloy to get to the truth--and still make it home in time for Ellie to take care of her family.

    Author Dorothy Cannell writes a funny, fast-paced novel. The character dialogue kept me chuckling, as did the rather mad-cap action. The mystery itself won't pose much of a challenge for hard-core cozy readers, but in the case of THE IMPORTANCE OF BEING ERNESTINE, getting there is where the fun is. And there is plenty of fun in this charming novel.

    Four Stars

    Reviewed 8/11/02

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