Review Detail

Unccovering a long-hidden truth
Overall rating
Writing Style
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What worked:
This plot is a straight-up mystery as Myrtle helps her father investigate a young girl named Sally’s claim that she may be the sole survivor of a shipwreck. The previous books have developed Myrtle’s reputation for uncovering clues and solving mysteries but this book can be read independently. Myrtle’s father is more sensitive about her help this time but Miss Judson, her governess, still helps her investigate clues. The whole scenario becomes more complicated when Father enters the hospital to have his tonsils removed. He’s unable to talk and may be feeling the influence of medications but he claims to have witnessed a murder! Myrtle begins to worry that her father may be in danger.
The narrative is presented by Myrtle’s character so readers are able to read her thoughts and feelings. The one thing that can be said about her is that she’s persistent. Her goals are to protect her father and help Sally and she won’t let anything stop her. Myrtle’s very observant and has a logical mind so readers are able to understand how she pieces clues together. Her character will occasionally take a moment to speak directly to readers and explain something that’s just happened. Myrtle also includes footnotes at the bottom of some pages to provide definitions for some words, further information about historical facts mentioned, or simply to emphasize her thoughts on situations.
This book fits into the historical fiction genre as it takes place in the late 1800's. Sally’s father sank a sailing ship ten years earlier which is the basis for the conflict. Myrtle and Ms. Judson travel about town in a horse-drawn carriage and indoor lighting comes from candles or gas lamps. A blurb at the start of each chapter shares a blurb from a fictional book called Foundations of Legal Medicine with information about detective work and the history of forensic medicine. Much of the story takes place in the hospital where Myrtle’s father takes a week to recover from tonsilitis. Father is given medication to keep him quiet and he’s tethered with leather restraints to keep him from leaving his bed. These methods would not be approved at a general hospital in today’s world.
What didn’t work as well:
In books like this, the young main character usually excludes adults and goes off recklessly investigating a mystery on her own. However, Myrtle researches clues with Miss Judson who encourages Myrtle to investigate the murder. Myrtle is the lone child character exploring a mystery/crime that involves the world of adults and she’s usually accompanied by Miss Judson. This scenario isn’t necessarily wrong or bad but it’s different from other young detectives in this genre.
The Final Verdict:
The presence of mostly adult characters is unusual for a middle-grade book but Myrtle’s investigations into Sally’s inheritance and a subsequent murder at the hospital is quite interesting. Myrtle’s normalcy makes her relatable to young readers and the author provides plenty of suspects for them to consider. I recommend you give this book a shot.
In Myrtle Peril (Myrtle Hardcastle Mystery 4)
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