Algonquin Young Readers | October 6, 2020
ISBN 9781616209193 | 352 pp | Grades 5-13
Before the train has left the station, England’s most accomplished new detective already is on a suspect’s trail, and readers will be delighted to travel along.
Myrtle Hardcastle has no desire to go on a relaxing travel excursion with her aunt Helena when there are More Important things to be done at home, like keeping close tabs on criminals and murder trials. Unfortunately, she has no say in the matter. So off Myrtle goes—with her governess, Miss Judson, and cat, Peony, in tow—on a fabulous private railway coach headed for the English seaside.
Myrtle is thrilled to make the acquaintance of Mrs. Bloom, a professional insurance investigator aboard to protect the priceless Northern Lights tiara. But before the train reaches its destination, both the tiara and Mrs. Bloom vanish. When Myrtle arrives, she and Peony discover a dead body in the baggage car. Someone has been murdered—with Aunt Helena’s sewing shears.
The trip is derailed, the local police are inept, and Scotland Yard is in no rush to arrive. What’s a smart, bored Young Lady of Quality stranded in a washed-up carnival town to do but follow the evidence to find out which of her fellow travelers is a thief and a murderer?
BOOKLIST: “It hasn’t been long since Myrtle Hardcastle solved her first murder (Premeditated Myrtle, 2020), when another auspiciously falls in her lap. It’s just the thing she needs to spice up an otherwise dull and wholesome seaside holiday with Aunt Helena and Miss Judson, governess and partner in crime solving. The dastardly act occurs on the train to Fairhaven, shortly after the theft of a bejeweled tiara. That the murder victim was the insurance agent protecting this tiara seems too convenient to be coincidence. Myrtle immediately springs into action, securing the scene until the local constabulary can take over matters. Unfortunately (or is it fortunately?), the locals are ill prepared for dealing with such serious crimes, allowing Myrtle to easily insinuate herself into the investigation. Bunce fully utilizes the story’s classic mystery settings (the train, a grand hotel full of unusual guests, and a small town of memorable characters) as she spiritedly chucks red herrings at readers and Myrtle alike. Humor and wit make the narrative sparkle, and, happily, Myrtle is as irrepressible as ever.”
SCHOOL LIBRARY JOURNAL: “Twelve-year-old criminologist Myrtle Hardcastle deeply resents being “banished” by her father to an English seaside town instead of being allowed to attend a forensics conference with him in Paris. The year is 1893 and young girls may be expected to become “Young Ladies of Quality,” but Myrtle plans to pursue investigating. She is beyond delighted when a female investigator befriends her on the train, just in time for a priceless tiara to be stolen! When someone turns up dead and Myrtle’s aunt is charged with the murder, Myrtle has no choice but to solve the case. Can Myrtle find [the real killer] before Aunt Helena is shipped off to trial? Readers who enjoyed Premeditated Myrtle will rejoice in this second installment featuring the plucky protagonist, her beautiful and multitalented governess Miss Judson, Peony the cat, and a whole new cast of strong female characters. References to Scotland Yard and investigative techniques will delight young Sherlock Holmes aficionados. The advanced vocabulary will send even the most sesquipedalian readers scurrying to the dictionary. The descriptions of murder may be a touch heavy for some. VERDICT This deeply plotted sequel is an additional purchase for collections serving the most precocious readers who long for a fast-paced mystery where women shine.”
KIRKUS: “Morbid Myrtle, plucky aspiring investigator, must solve a dastardly railroad murder in late Victorian England.
Poor Myrtle. Father thinks she should have a holiday, because a 12-year-old girl needs some time away from solving murders. Horrors! He’s sending her off for “Family Amusements” at the seaside with Aunt Helena. Myrtle’s governess, Miss Judson, usually supportive of Myrtle’s unconventional interests, is a willing collaborator in the effort to keep Myrtle away from crime. When their train to the seaside is robbed, Myrtle is thrilled by the mentoring of a wonderful lady investigator. …In the forbidding, unwelcoming coastal town, Myrtle uncovers myriad disquieting mysteries. Each new revelation builds upon the prior discovery until the tense, wonderfully eerie climax on a ramshackle amusement pier. The sleuthing is heartwarming and funny, featuring strong women and girls, packed with characters who genuinely care about each other.”