Review Detail

Kids Fiction 289
Mysterious Circumstances in a Small Village
Overall rating 
 
4.0
Plot/Characters/Writing Style 
 
4.0
Illustrations/Photos (if applicable) 
 
N/A
In 1893, Myrtle is being raised by her father, a lawyer, and her governess, Miss Judson, after the death of her mother. Myrtle is very interested in the law, crime, and the art of detection, so she is especially interested when her older neighbor, Miss Wodehouse, is found dead in her bathtub. Miss Wodehouse raised and propagated Gilded Slipper lilies and was wealthy, and Myrtle feels that something is not right. Between the missing cat, the state of the garden, and details she uncovers (like the state of Miss Wodehouse's nightgown), Myrtle has plenty to keep her investigating. Add a niece and nephew who could inherit, and the plot thickens. Her father objects more for show than in order for real change to be made, and Miss Judson is ready to encourage her charge. The Victorian era was not a great time for a young lady to be interested in science, much less crime, but Myrtle manages to stay out of trouble most of the time, and even manages to make friends with Caroline, the daughter of Dr. Munjal. Will she be able not only to prove that Miss Wodehouse was murdered, but to solve the case?
Good Points
There were a lot of twists and turns that I didn't see coming, which I always appreciate in a mystery. Myrtle and Miss Judson rode bicycles, believed that girls were as good as boys, and dealt with the strictures of society during this time period in a realistic, if enthusiastic, manner. The way Myrtle was treated by her peers ran true to era.

In addition to the details of what it was like to live during this time, there were a lot of fun additons, like the reporter's involvement. The lilies added an interesting touch, as did the gardener.

Myrtle wasn't that nice; she was privileged and spoiled and did not take other's feelings into account. Comparisons to Bradley's Flavia de Luce are apt, but younger readers often enjoy characters who aren't necessarily great examples of behavior, like Junie B. Jones, so this is just a personal preference.

Readers who like Robin Stevens' Wells and Wong mysteries or Jocelyn's The Body Under the Piano (Aggie Morton, Mystery Queen, #1), or who aspire to read the great women mystery writers of the 1920s like Christie, Sayers and Wentworth, will love Myrtle's adventures and look forward to her second outing in How to Get Away with Myrtle, being released in October 2020.
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