THE WIDOWS CLUB by Dorothy Cannell


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Scissoring her book into three parts--the files and minutes of The Widows Club; Ellie's wedding/honeymoon/new-business flashback; live action (well, it encompasses a corpse or two, but never mind)--author Cannell bravely sallies forth in all directions, and just manages to pull it off, though the flashback sequence is so rich, so hilarious, sooff-the-wall wacky that the other segments barely hold their own. The basic premise here--anyone whose husband asks for a divorce in order to marry a new sweetie has another option: let the Widows Club dispatch the ingrate so that it looks natural (a suicide) or possible (an accident); plus enjoy their garden outings, house tours, counselling services (to overcome guilt, remorse, loneliness). Meanwhile, out to foil this group--who all wear the same pin (featuring a murder of crows)--are Ellie Haskell (The Thin Woman); Flowers Detective Agency founders, the sisters Primrose and Hyacinth (Down the Garden Path); and the plain but sensual love of most of the husbands in Chitterdon Fells, who shall go nameless here. The scheme is to have Ellie pose as a dissatisfied wife, set hubby Bentley up for the kill, then waylay the real bad guys/gals. At the same time, they have to deal with the Raincoat Man, an agony columnist, the woman in the broom closet in the Peerless Nursing Home, mystery writer Digby, young/old Jenny Spender, Roxie the char, Sidney Fowler in drag, several fine sets of armor, a dungeon, Ellie's in-laws (whose squabbles redefine the word ""sidesplitting""), dead bodies galore, and a butler named Butler, who picks locks, pockets, teeth, whatever. Calls to mind Alice Tilton at her nuttiest, with tinges of Susan Isaacs' early brashness. Rollicking, ebullient, and--for that lengthy flashback portion--outright good fun.

Pub Date: May 1st, 1988
Publisher: Bantam