Dorothy was born in Nottingham, England and came to the U.S. in 1963. She married Julian Cannell and they lived in Peoria, Illinois, from 1965 to 2004. They then moved to Maine where they now reside with their two dogs, Teddy and Watson.
Dorothy became an aspiring writer after taking English 110 at Illinois Central College and being encouraged to write for publication by the class teacher. Seven years later she sold her first short story.
Her first novel, The Thin Woman published in 1984 has been selected as one of the 100 favorite mysteries of the Twentieth Century by the Mystery Book Sellers of America. In 2014, Dorothy received a Lifetime Achievement Award from Malice Domestic. Dorothy has published eighteen novels and a collection of short stories.