Cold-Blooded Myrtle

Myrtle Hardcastle Mysteries Book 3

Algonquin Young Readers | October 5, 2021
ISBN 978-16162092096 | 360 pp | Grades 5-13

Kirkus Best Book of 2021 ♦ Edgar Award Finalist ♦ Agatha Award Finalist ♦ Anthony Award Finalist ♦ Silver Falchion Award Finalist ♦ Indie Next Pick

The latest volume in the Edgar Award-Winning Series!


Myrtle Hardcastle—twelve-year-old Young Lady of Quality and Victorian amateur detective—is back on the case, solving a string of bizarre murders in her hometown of Swinburne…

When the proprietor of Leighton’s Mercantile is found dead the morning his annual Christmas shop display is to be unveiled, it’s clear a killer has revenge in mind. But who would want to murder the local dry-goods merchant? Perhaps someone who remembers the mysterious scandal that destroyed his career as a professor of archaeology. When the killer strikes again, ­­­each time manipulating the figures in the display to foretell the crime, Myrtle finds herself racing to uncover the long-buried facts of a cold case—and the motivations of a modern murderer.

★ KIRKUS, starred review:

Morbid Myrtle to the rescue once more, solving murders in her Victorian English village. It’s convenient that the Swinburne Village’s murderers are every bit as over-the-top and elaborate as Myrtle is dedicated to Investigating. This time around, the murderer signs the elaborate executions by rearranging The Display: each death scene meticulously created in the scale model of the village set up each year for Christmas. Of course, Myrtle would be determined to solve the crimes under any circumstances, but these serial killings seem to have some connection to her dead Mum. Myrtle, a White 12-year-old, has excellent detecting assistants: her French Guianese governess, Miss Judson, who is almost more dedicated to Investigating than Myrtle; White Mr. Blakeney, who still calls Myrtle by the nickname “Stephen”; and Indian British Caroline, whose father was Myrtle’s Mum’s college friend and who is also connected to the killings. Can they unravel the killer’s motives while Swinburne’s worthies are all implicated? What if Caroline’s and Myrtle’s parents are guilty? And why won’t Miss Judson and Myrtle’s father just kiss, already? Classical allusions and a secret society accentuate the Victorian feel, but Myrtle explains the history as much as she explains 19th-century engineering, so readers should only be puzzled by the mystery itself. Comical footnotes pepper the text, adding wit to prose which is already dryly funny. Clues abound, giving astute readers the chance to solve the mystery along with Myrtle.

Another excellent whodunit with a charming, snarky sleuth. (historical note) (Historical mystery. 9-12)

The Buffalo News:

12-year-old sleuth Myrtle Hardcastle returns for her third outing – and her first cold case investigation – in what might be the most entertaining whodunit yet in this terrific series set in Victorian England. Myrtle and her governess, Miss Judson, are among the Swinburne residents gathered outside Leighton’s Mercantile awaiting the unveiling of the store’s celebrated Christmas-theme miniature village when the proprietor is found dead in his armchair.


Along with an intricate mystery, Cold-Blooded Myrtle features memorable characters, unhinged villains, clues written in Greek, threats written in Latin, a museum party celebrating a Saturnalia Chalice unearthed by Leighton and students in Cornwall, a series of steam tunnels under the village and murders staged in miniature ahead of time in a store Christmas display.


Narrated in Myrtle’s smart, irreverent voice and peppered with amusing footnotes, the novel builds suspense as the body count rises right up to the dramatic finale.

The Wall Street Journal:

Younger Holmes fans (and older ones too) should be charmed by Elizabeth C. Bunce’s Cold-Blooded Myrtle, the latest entry in her series featuring 12-year-old amateur sleuth Myrtle Hardcastle. In 1893, Myrtle receives a double Christmastime shock: the death, in “The Final Problem,” of her fictional idol Holmes, and the apparent murder of the proprietor of her town’s mercantile store. Tidings of discomfort, indeed.


Elizabeth C. Bunce