Goodbye, Ms. Chips (Ellie Haskell Series #12)

Goodbye, Ms. Chips (Ellie Haskell Series #12)

by Dorothy Cannell
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Overview

Goodbye, Ms. Chips (Ellie Haskell Series #12) by Dorothy Cannell

Ellie Haskell goes back to school in the “thoroughly entertaining series” (Cosmopolitan) that began with The Thin Woman. From Agatha Award nominee Dorothy Cannell, this delightful mystery is an education . . . in murder.
 
“Ellie, the headmistress wants to see you.” Words to strike terror in the heart of any inmate of St. Roberta’s boarding school. Fortunately for Ellie Haskell, she is no longer a pudgy, wayward pupil but a happily married mother and interior designer with a beautiful home by the sea. Rather, Ellie has been summoned thanks to her reputation as an amateur sleuth.
 
The headmistress, Mrs. Battle, has requested Ellie’s help in the investigation into the disappearance of a coveted lacrosse trophy. Unless the prize is found, someone will succeed in dealing the school a great deal of embarrassment. So, despite her less-than-rosy memories of her alma mater, Ellie begins snooping around St. Roberta’s—only to have her homecoming spoiled by the suspicious death of the recently retired games mistress, Ms. Chips. Now, with a killer possibly stalking the halls, Ellie must act fast to have a sporting chance at justice.
 
Praise for Goodbye, Ms. Chips
 
“Engaging Ellie provides a peak at boarding-school charms and horrors while solving one of her more intriguing cases.”Kirkus Reviews
 
“This humorous cozy is filled with sympathetic characters and an inside look at an English boarding school.”Booklist
 
Praise for Dorothy Cannell and the Ellie Haskell series
 
“It is the absurd predicaments of her central characters that readers find themselves recalling, and Cannell is cunning at devising outlandish situations for them.”Chicago Sun-Times
 
“Cannell is a master of subtle wit and humorous asides that lift her cozies to great heights. Before the influx of writers trying to out-humor Janet Evanovich, there was Dorothy Cannell. Long may she write!”Library Journal

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780425284032
Publisher: Random House Publishing Group
Publication date: 06/07/2016
Series: Ellie Haskell Series , #12
Sold by: Random House
Format: NOOK Book
Pages: 306
Sales rank: 27,172
File size: 1 MB

About the Author

Dorothy Cannell was born in London, England, and now lives in Belfast, Maine. She writes mysteries featuring 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.

Read an Excerpt

Chapter 1

“Ellie, the headmistress wants to see you.”

Words to strike terror in the heart of any inmate of St. Roberta’s boarding school for girls who has failed to turn in her Latin prep, left out London when drawing a map of England, or—worse yet—prowled the ruins of the medieval convent at dead of night. Naturally I shuddered, even though I was now a grown woman and the speaker was my dear friend Dorcas Critchley, who had arrived unexpectedly a half hour before.

The school I had attended as a pupil was now her place of employment. Upon the retirement of Ms. Chips at the end of the previous school year, Dorcas had assumed the post of games mistress and now had the dubious pleasure of chivying a bunch of girls in bottle-green shorts and mustard-yellow shirts to victory on the playing field. My being a St. Roberta’s old girl was a coincidence, and Dorcas had very sensibly not asked me for a personal reference. Ms. Chips, who undoubtedly still had the headmistress’s ear, could not be expected to remember me with enthusiasm, given that the only ball I had ever managed to lob in lacrosse had whacked her squarely on the nose—breaking it, so Matron had informed me icily, in at least three places.

Haunted by this memory and its outcome, I now sought solace from my surroundings. It was a sunny Saturday afternoon early in June, and Dorcas and I sat in white wicker chairs on the back lawn of my home, Merlin’s Court. Its fantastical castle turrets poked cheerfully into the pure blue sky, daring a dark cloud to show a malignant face. The miniature moat collected only sanguine shadows. The garden’s gently sloping lawns were shaded by beech trees and interspersed with flower beds bursting with riotous color. The air was perfumed with roses. Indoors were my wonderful husband, Ben, and our three adorable children. Given this heaping helping of life’s bounty, only an ingrate would not respond to Dorcas’s astonishing announcement with an interested smile.

“Why on earth would Mrs. Battle want to see me?” I endeavored to sound cheerfully intrigued. “Surely it can’t be to find out why I never joined the Old Girls’ Association.”

“Nothing to fear in that regard, Ellie,” Dorcas reassured me.

“Oh, goodie!”

“Am here as her emissary. Something nasty occurred at old Roberta’s. Shocking business! Threatens blight on our outstanding reputation. Ghastly for Mrs. Battle! Blasted all to pieces, as you might expect! Hands trembled the other day when mounting the dais to take assembly.”

“To everything there is a season.” The words hopped out of my mouth. Dorcas raised an inquiring eyebrow, and I looked at the table between our chairs, but no pot of tea and plate of biscuits had magically appeared to put me in a better frame of mind. “Sorry,” I said. “I was remembering how I quivered and quaked when the Battle-ax caught me wearing my uniform cardigan back to front, for a change.”

“Frightfully sorry to put you in a spot. Should have remembered your saying you don’t have fond memories of school.” Dorcas’s gaze faltered. Some people might consider her plain, with her thin face, sharp features, and short ginger hair clipped back from her brow. But I wouldn’t have changed a thing about her, from the serviceable tweed jacket and slacks to the argyle socks. My mind went back ten years to our first meeting, shortly after Ben and I had inherited Merlin’s Court from an elderly relative of mine. Our good fortune had not gone down well with members of the family who had hoped to find themselves on easy street when the old man finally pegged it. Sadly, we were forced to the lamentable conclusion that one of them wanted us out of the house—and into the graveyard. But Dorcas had been there for us every step of the way until the villain was unmasked and the danger removed. Over the course of the following years she had been a frequent much-loved visitor, always spending Christmas and Easter with us. Knowing a warm welcome awaited her, she also enjoyed making impromptu visits such as this one. I was horrified at the thought of hurting her feelings.

“I’m the one who should be sorry. I’ve been behaving like an insensitive wretch.” I leaned toward her. “This business, whatever it is, has you seriously upset. I thought you weren’t your usual chirpy self when you arrived, and now I can see shadows under your eyes. You haven’t been sleeping properly.”

“Perfectly fit, never better. Can still skim the high bar and land upright.”

“Forget the brave front.” I wagged a finger at her. “What evil stalks the hallowed halls of St. Roberta’s?”

“Don’t know how to break it to you.” My friend reached into her trouser pocket for a handkerchief the size of a small tablecloth.

“Just say it, Dorcas, dear.”

“A sports cup has been stolen from the trophy case in the assembly hall.”

“Is that all? I was afraid a bunch of first formers, fed up with shepherd’s pie, had murdered the cook.”

“Ellie, it was the Loverly Cup!”

I thought she was stammering. “The lovely . . . ?”

“Loverly. Awarded annually by Lady Loverly of the Hall at Upper Swan-Upping to the winner of the area schools’ lacrosse championship match. For the past nine years, St. Roberta’s has won it handily. Sadly, not in the cards this time. Disappointing season.” Dorcas sucked in a breath and blew tremulously into the handkerchief. “Blame myself. Failed to rouse the old fighting school spirit. Offered to resign.”

Preferable, I thought fondly, to donning a kimono and falling on her lacrosse stick. What she needed at this moment was a strong cup of tea, but alas, the wrought-iron table remained bare. I decided against nipping into the house and brewing a pot in favor of offering immediate comfort.

“Dorcas, it sounds like a schoolgirl prank to me.”

“That’s what Mrs. Battle is hoping. But worried stiff the matter could turn out to be more serious.”

“Such as?”

“Evil plot to ruin St. Roberta’s stainless reputation.”

Masterminded, I supposed, by a shadowy figure with an eye patch and a hollow cough who would prove to be the recently dismissed French mistress. “When was the cup taken?”

“This past Monday.”

A vital question loomed. “How long before it must be handed over to the new lacrosse champions?”

“End of the month. Last week of term.”

“I gather the Battle-ax is against involving the authorities?”

“Can’t say I blame her. Police cars screeching down the drive, sirens wailing?” Dorcas paled visibly. “No keeping that hullabaloo from the Board of Governors and the parents. Could be the end of good old Roberta’s.”

Although this seemed to me to be going overboard, I made soothing noises in the manner of a brook attempting to calm the troubled sea. Had she been a different sort, Dorcas would have whacked me or at least told me to stuff the platitudes.

“Hard enough these days to keep any school going without a scandal. Mrs. Battle brightened when I reported your great success as a private investigator.”

An unpleasant apprehension seized me. “You said she wanted to meet with me, but this sounds as though more than a nip in and out of her office will be entailed. To unmask the Cup Culprit, I’d have to stay at or near school for days on end—possibly weeks!” My mind shut down at the horror of it.

“Asking a lot of you, I know.”

I reminded myself sternly that I was supposedly a grown-up—wife, mother, part-time interior designer. I remembered my parents had sold their souls to their bank manager, unhappily named Mr. Shark, in return for an overdraft the size of the national debt in order to pay my school fees. My courage still failed me. “Dorcas, I don’t think I’m up to this.”

She misunderstood me. “Know you think yourself an amateur. Modest, always have been; one of the things I admire most. But if anyone can solve the mystery, it’s you.”

Ignobly I sought an out. “Thank you, Dorcas, but I don’t handle cases on my own. I usually work in tandem with Mrs. Malloy.”

Even as I spoke these words, a woman with jet-black hair highlighted by two inches of white roots crossed the courtyard at last, carrying a tea tray. Here was my trusty household helper and partner in the sleuthing business. It must be added that she made an imposing figure. Her generous contours were presently displayed to full advantage in a forest-green taffeta dress. Glittering brooches planted here and there suggested she was descended from the czars of Russia. Hopefully she’d never be forced to flee a revolution, her high heels being unsuited to successful escape down a dark alley. I worried about the tea tray; one misstep and there would go a perfectly good teapot and assorted crockery, to say nothing of the cucumber sandwiches and jam tarts.
Dorcas likewise perceived the possibility of imminent disaster. Leaping to her feet as if in response to a starting pistol, she had the tray on a table before I could blink.

“Well, that was good of you, Miss Critchley!” Mrs. Malloy landed in a chair. Her rouged face cracked as she produced a purple-lipsticked smile. “For a minute I thought I was back to me old rugby days, about to be tackled to the ground by sixteen stone of solid muscle.”

Bless the woman! Being a romantic she is given to these flights of fancy, and doubtless the scene continued to play out in her mind. The team captain would announce between gasping breaths that he was in actual fact the deposed king of Ruritania; if she didn’t think him too bold, he would sweep her off to his flat after the match and deflower her at his leisure.

Dorcas took the cup of tea I passed her and apologized to Mrs. Malloy for startling her. “Sorry! Not thinking clearly. Lot on my mind, I’m afraid.” My heart ached, she looked so despondent. She gave much and asked little in return. Would it really kill me to help her out in her hour of need? Biting into a sandwich, I attempted to garner strength.

“It’s me that is sorry, Miss C,” protested Mrs. Malloy magnanimously. “I could see the moment you arrived this afternoon as you was down in the dumps. It worried me sufficient that I couldn’t concentrate on me dusting or work up the enthusiasm to sort out the toy cupboard. ‘What that good woman needs,’ I said to Mr. Haskell, ‘is a decent cup of tea.’ And with himself playing Monopoly with the children like he does most Saturday afternoons, I got the kettle going and nipped to it.”

“Good of you, Mrs. Malloy. Can’t say how much I appreciate . . .” Out came the handkerchief, with noisy results.
I wasn’t equally impressed with Mrs. M’s slavish devotion to duty. When last I’d seen her, she’d been on the drawing-room sofa with her feet up, reading The Lamentable Affair at Latchings while the dust and toy cupboard went unlamented. This, however, was not the moment to play the heavy-handed employer. Much good it would have done me anyway. From the start of our relationship, it has been unclear whether Mrs. Malloy or I rule the roost in domestic matters. Not that it matters. She is above all things a staunch ally when the chips are down.

“Dorcas is here on her headmistress’s behalf,” I explained. “The Battle-ax wants to see me.”

“Forget to finish the fourth form, Mrs. H?”

I smiled dutifully at this quip. “Mrs. Battle was indeed at the helm when I was at St. Roberta’s, though I doubt she would remember me without some nudging. No, a sports cup has been stolen. The hope is that I . . . we,” I added quickly, “can recover it before its loss has to be made public.” I went on to explain that it was soon to be handed on to another school. Meanwhile, Dorcas sat in sad contemplation of her argyle socks.

“Is it very valuable, this cup?” The thrilled expression on Mrs. Malloy’s face suggested she was indulging her imagination again. Did she picture a goblet studded with jewels sufficient to ransom Richard the Lionhearted from the bunch of miffed Turks or whoever had locked him up in a moldering stronghold? A just fate, I had always thought, for a man who had gone jaunting off to the Crusades, leaving his brother John to tick off the barons and make life difficult for Robin Hood. “Gold?” breathed Mrs. Malloy.

“Silver cup,” replied Dorcas, “but bound to be valuable. Work of Hester Bateman.”

“Who?”

“The queen of eighteenth-century silversmiths. A friend of mine paid a hundred pounds for one teaspoon with her hallmark.” Having demolished more than my share of sandwiches in a desperate attempt at building up my defenses, I was feeling a smidge more cheerful. “Lady Loverly doesn’t stint with her trophy giving.”

“Lady who?” Mrs. Malloy held out her teacup for a refill.

“Loverly. A woman, if I remember correctly, who wore horrific hats and seemed to have twice the usual number of teeth. Middle-aged, which would make her elderly now, after nearly twenty years. Goodness! It’s amazing to think it’s been that long. I left St. Roberta’s when I was fifteen. None of its girls could have been happier to go home and burn that hideous uniform than I!”

“What then, Mrs. H? Parents get you a governess?”

“Art school.”

Dorcas continued to study her argyle socks. I could tell from her hunched posture that, sympathetic as she generally was to my feelings, she was shocked by my lack of loyalty to St. Roberta’s. It came to me then, with an anguished pang, that I could not bring myself to tell her why I was so averse to returning there. A woman of her unfaltering integrity could not but condemn my failure to have spoken out and saved a fellow schoolgirl from unjust disciplinary action when I knew her to be innocent of the charge against her.

What People are Saying About This

From the Publisher

“Engaging Ellie provides a peek at boarding-school charms and horrors while solving one of her more intriguing cases.”—Kirkus Reviews

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Goodbye, Ms. Chips 3.8 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 15 reviews.
choppergirl More than 1 year ago
The whole Ellie Haskell series is as wonderful a read as you could ever imagine. I have enjoyed every single one of them and this one is no different. Ms Cannell has a sense of humor and the mysteries are engaging. Wonderful characters and superb writing.
Anonymous 10 months ago
StudentofParables More than 1 year ago
There is a lot going on in this title. Many different characters, already established relationships from previous books in the series, several different settings to navigate. It would be easy for the story to waver under the weight of everything it is carrying – but there was no faltering to be found! As to the different settings – there are many literary takes on a boarding school backdrop, but this one stands alone for me in comparison to the others. No rosy glasses-d romanticism, nor ‘underdog against the odds’ conflict – the school space and the students and teachers who inhabit it come alive in a very real, natural way. The author’s language style and vocabulary choices are what make her book come alive. The characters are brought out in dazzling detail, with each nuance and personality quirk deftly defined. By the middle chapters, you know how a certain character is going to react, and you await expectantly for events to unfold. This was not a predictable work, far from it, but it felt natural, as if the next twist was the most logical thing to occur. Rather than the sharp turns, and edge of your seat danger of other mysteries, this one makes you pay attention, think, and with Ellie, try to outwit the culprit. Are you up to the challenge? I received a review copy of this work from the publisher through NetGalley
Jarina More than 1 year ago
Goodbye, Ms. Chips is the 12th book in the Ellie Haskell mystery series by Dorothy Cannell. Ellie has been summoned by the headmistress of St. Roberta's, Mrs. Battle, better known when Ellie was a student there as the Battle-axe. The Loverly Cup for Lacrosse championship has been stolen and the school must relinquish the trophy to the new champions after a nine year straight reign. The embarrassment to the school, and to their retired coach and benefactress Ms. Chips is unthinkable and Ellie has been called upon to help find the cup. Even though Ellie dreads returning, she does so at the request of her friend Dorcas Critchley. As Ellie gets caught up in the cast of many characters, and clues slide right under the surface, she utilizes the help of cousin Arielle from her husband's family to help understand the students and their motives, and her housekeeper and crime solving partner Mrs. Malloy to help get to the campus gossip. Before it is all over with, not only has the cup gone missing but also Ms. Chips has met her demise in the abbey ruins on the school's grounds. It seems to be Ellie's engaging personality that brings locals to confide in her and helps to put the puzzle pieces together to first solve the mystery of the missing cup, and then the death of Ms. Chips. Although this was the first Ellie Haskell mystery I have read I found it easy to come into the series at this point without being lost. Enough information was given on continuing characters to understand the relationship without being overly detailed so that the new reader was not lost. In all, the story was well woven and the characters served the purposes of not only spinning the mystery but also looking into the psyches and lives of the characters within the story. I enjoyed this book and do recommend it for those who are followers of either this genre or Ms. Cannell
dibbylodd More than 1 year ago
The British school system is a ripe area to mine for stories, it would seem. The legacy of a private school education seems to have left quite an impression on the main character who is asked to come and discretely look into a problem there. There are more challenges then just the missing cup and they are quite interesting.
Bev_Ash More than 1 year ago
I haven't read any of the other Ellie Haskell mysteries, but I think the book was good as a stand alone. I didn't feel lost. The Loverly Cup, a lacrosse trophie, was stolen and Ellie, a previous student, is asked to come to the school and find it. This is suppose to be the main story, but there are a lot of little stories running at the same time. To me, the book was more about people and how life changes us than a mystery. The mystery was just kind of thrown in as extra. The characters, even minor ones, were well developed. I enjoyed the book and am glad I received it free from NetGalley for an honest review.
carol223CS More than 1 year ago
Dorothy Cannell's Goodbye, Ms Chips Ellie Haskell returns to her prior boarding school at the request of her friend, Dorcas who is now head of games there. Ellie is an interior designer plus amateur detective. The Loverly Cup given for the top team in lacrosse each year has gone missing Dorcas wants Ellie to return to find the cup without anyone knowing what she is doing. The descriptions were solid scenes enabling the reader to see the school and know the teachers as the story progresses. It even went so far as to what Ellie packed in her suitcase Thief, deceit, bullying, false friends, murder, zany characters, the Gray Nun, humor and a touch of romance make this an intriguing read. This is book #12 in the Ellie Haskell Mystery series. It can be read as a stand alone Thank you to Net Gallery and Alibi for this eBook. My opinion is my own.
LindaRomer More than 1 year ago
Goodbye, Ms. Chips An Ellie Haskell Mystery by Dorothy Cannell I enjoyed Goodbye, Ms. Chips. This was my first Ellie Haskell Mystery. It was a fun read and interesting mystery. I loved Ellie Haskell's character, quite quirky, she has conversations with herself. Ellie is a private investigator in tandem with Mrs. Malloy, and also a part time Interior Designer. Ellie was summoned to her old school St. Roberta's boarding school for girls to solve the mystery of the missing Loverly Cup. I enjoyed reading about all the girls at the school, and Ellie's eccentric schoolmates. The ending was great! I give Goodbye, Ms. Chips 4 stars for its fun mystery and enjoyable characters. I would recommend this book to anyone who enjoys a fun cozy mystery. #RHMysteryPack #Sponsered I am a Chatterbox for House Party and received this product for free for my honest opinion.
psoccermom More than 1 year ago
This was my first book written by Dorothy Cannell. I enjoyed it. It was a light easy read full of just enough twists and turns to throw you off the scent of the real killer and thief. Goodbye, Ms. Chips has Ellie going back to her old boarding school to try and solve the case of the missing trophy. She really had a hard time at boarding school and was not looking forward to going back especially seeing Headmistress Mrs. Battle! I don't know about you but I know I wouldn't want to go back to school especially if I had to meet up with the girl who bullied me! YIKES poor Ellie. At least she is able to feel like she can find some retribution and find the thief and killer. This book is definitely at an easy pace so it's not hard to keep up. I would have liked to have read the earlier books to find out more history on the character Ellie. I recieved this book from NetGalley for an honest review.
weluvdopey More than 1 year ago
This is a great book with a wonderful story and well developed characters. This book will keep you reading long into the night. This was such a great read and full of surprises. I am looking forward to reading the next book by this great author. A Review copy was provided to me in exchange for a fair and honest review. The free book held no determination on my personal review.
LauraMHartman More than 1 year ago
Goodbye Ms. Chips, an Ellie Haskell mystery, begins with Ellie going back to school. Not grad school or a university, but the boarding school she attended as a girl. She has mixed emotions about returning. Her schooling was marred by witnessing something she should not have. The event weighs heavy on her mind even though she is an accomplished woman with a loving husband and children. The reason the headmistress called for Ellie is that there has been a robbery and she needs Ellie’s keen observation skills and her proven ability to solve mysteries to help. The object in question is a missing trophy, the Loverly Cup. The Cup is traditionally passed to the championship lacrosse team each year and has been held by St. Roberta’s Boarding School for ages. Unfortunately they did not win this year and must pass the missing trophy to the new winning school during the dedication of the new gymnasium. It must be found before the event. Ellie may have had misgivings about going back to a school she had mixed emotions about, but her dear friend Dorcas Critchley is now teaching there and Ellie feels compelled to help. Little did she know there is more afoot than the missing Loverly Cup. Deception abounds with double crossing students and arrogant acquaintances from Ellie’s past throwing monkey wrenches in her investigation at every turn. When an accident occurs, Ellie is suspicious of foul play, but can she prove it? This is the 12th book in the Ellie Haskell Mystery Series. Ellie is an interior designer who is married to a professional chef and cookbook author. Her partner in solving crime is her housekeeper, Mrs. Malloy who arrives late to this investigation due to family visiting. Cannell’s description of Mrs. Malloy is priceless and instantly gives the reader a mental picture that will pop up when she enters a scene. There is nothing better than a tightly written cozy mystery with engaging characters and a solid plot. There were so many characters with secrets, I did not figure out the culprit until the last pages. Cannell writes a perfect British cozy with delightful characters, twists, turns and a liberal sprinkling of humor. This is the first one I’ve read in this series and it reads perfectly as a stand-alone novel. Copyright © 2016 Laura Hartman DISCLOSURE OF MATERIAL CONNECTION: I have a material connection because I received a review copy for free from Random House Books that I can keep for consideration in preparing to write this content. I was not expected to return this item after my review.
ArizonaJo More than 1 year ago
Goodbye, Ms. Chips: An Ellie Haskell Mystery by Dorothy Cannel was the first book by this author that I have read. I have to admit that I was disappointed. I found the plot to be very slow and too much focus on past relationships while Ellie is visiting her old boarding school. The pace finally picks up about half-way through the book as the pieces of the missing Loverly cup puzzle begins to be revealed. And then (finally) there is a death which might or might not be murder. I prefer a tighter plot without so much description that doesn't seem to pertain to the actual mystery or the characters that should be the main focus of the story. I am open to try another book by this author but I won't be actively looking for one. I received an eARC from the publisher via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.
CozyMysteryLover1 More than 1 year ago
Very disappointed in this book. The plot was good but there were too many fluff pieces that took away from the story. There were so many characters to try and remember that it made it hard to follow. I have read earlier books in the series and enjoyed them. This one fell flat. I received an ARC of this book from NetGalley in exchange for my fair and honest review.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
AuntieSusan More than 1 year ago
I had a great time reading this book. It is the second of Dorothy Cannell's that I have been able to find. As soon as my local bookstore gets more of the series in, everyone should leave me alone. I have a new favorite mystery series to read!