Premeditated Myrtle

Myrtle Hardcastle Mysteries Book I

Algonquin Young Readers | May 5, 2020
ISBN 9781616209186 | 368 pp | Grades 5-13

Twelve-year-old Myrtle Hardcastle has a passion for justice and a Highly Unconventional obsession with criminal science. Armed with her father’s law books and her mum’s microscope, Myrtle studies toxicology, keeps abreast of the latest developments in crime scene analysis, and Observes her neighbors in the quiet Victorian village of Swinburne, England.

When her next-door neighbor, a wealthy spinster and eccentric breeder of rare flowers, dies under Mysterious Circumstances, Myrtle seizes her chance. With her unflappable governess, Miss Ada Judson, by her side, Myrtle takes it upon herself to prove Miss Wodehouse was murdered and solve the crime, even if nobody else believes her — not even her father, the town prosecutor.

“In the tradition of Flavia de Luce and Harriet the Spy, Myrtle is a fine example of the Victorian scientific female-smart, inquisitive and fearless.
Written with a terrific mixture of humor and suspense Premeditated Myrtle is a perfect read for any budding detective.”

-Rhys Bowen, New York Times bestselling author of the Royal Spyness and Molly Murphy mysteries 

Kirkus: “An aspiring sleuth in Victorian England is convinced her neighbor’s death was no accident. Twelve-year-old Myrtle, who might have just been spying—er, Observing!—the neighborhood with her telescope, is convinced that prickly Miss Wodehouse has been the victim of foul play. Though the police say the old lady had a heart attack, Myrtle disagrees. With her magnifying lens, her specimen jars, and her stubbornness, Myrtle will prove the old lady was killed—and find the murderer, to boot. Though unpopular Myrtle leans in to a self-image as “the precocious daughter who lurked about everywhere being impertinent and morbid,” she has allies. Her interest in detecting comes from her affection for her adoring prosecutor father and the memory of her medical-student mother. Myrtle, middle-class and white, is encouraged by her equally quirky and exceedingly clever governess, Miss Judson (the multilingual, biracial daughter of white British and black French Guianese parents), who is at best half-hearted in her attempts to keep Myrtle out of trouble. Meanwhile, Caroline, a British Indian girl who’s been mean before, disassociates herself from Myrtle’s bully and becomes a staunch and equally geeky friend. Witty prose… keeps the characters accessible and quite charming while Myrtle (surrounded by beloved and supportive adults) avoids many of the more tired tropes of the eccentric-detective genre. A saucy, likable heroine shines in a mystery marked by clever, unexpected twists. (Historical mystery. 10-12)