The formerly rotund lead in The Thin Woman , Ellie Haskell, fears that her friends have taken their homicidal fantasies too seriously when their step-mothers end up in some dangerous situations.
A plague of mothers-in-law descends upon the small English village of Chitterton Fells with toxic, and hilarious, results. Ellie Haskell, seen last in Femmes Fatal , plans the perfect dinner party to celebrate the 38th anniversary of her in-laws, Magdalene and Elijah. But an evening full of domestic mishaps is capped with the elder Haskells's announcement that they had never officially been wed. After an escalating quarrel, Elijah retires to a hotel, leaving the glacial, pampered and extremely hostile Mag in residence with Ellie and her nonplussed husband Ben. On a visit to a local pub to retrieve Elijah, Ellie meets three other women with raging mother-in-law problems; the foursome, under the influence of gin and tonic, devise wickedly clever ways to murder each live-in meddler. But after a spate of accidents, one of them fatal, befalls the unfortunate older women, Ellie and friends must marshall their resources to find the murderer and a blackmailer. This droll story lurches haphazardly from one crisis to the next, sometimes revealing a lunatic edge. But Chitterton Fells, its full quota of likable, loquacious eccentrics and Cannell's frazzled, overweight heroine are rendered with zest and affection.