Myrtle, Means, and Opportunity (Myrtle Hardcastle Mystery 5)

Myrtle, Means, and Opportunity (Myrtle Hardcastle Mystery 5)
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Release Date
October 24, 2023
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In the fifth book of the Edgar Award-winning series, Myrtle Hardcastle uncovers a string of murders during a treasure hunt on a haunted Scottish estate.
When her governess inherits an estate on a Scottish island, amateur detective Myrtle Hardcastle couldn't be more excited. Unfortunately, the ancestral castle is both run-down and haunted. Ghostly moans echo in the walls, and there are rumors of a cursed treasure lost on the island—an ancient silver brooch that may have cost the former lord his life. But who had the motive, means, and opportunity to kill him? And could this Scottish trip mean the end of Myrtle's plans to get her father and governess together?

Then Myrtle's investigation stirs a villain out of hiding. The estate’s boat is stolen, so there’s no escape from the island. Myrtle is forced to play a deadly game, hunting for the brooch with a thief breathing down her neck—someone who will stop at nothing to get the treasure, even if it means murder.

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Once on the islands, the islands of Scotland...
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Our intrepid investigator Myrtle Hardcastle is back, as her governess, Ada Judson gets a letter that she has inherited a Scottish estate from an Uncle, Angus McJudd. Her English father and mother, who is from New Guinea where the parents both live, want her to go to Scotland to investigate. Since Mytle's lawyer father is very close to proposing to Ada, he sends Myrtle with her to keep an eye on things under the guise of learning in a new environment. Because of her past investigations (Premeditated Myrtle, How to Get Away with Myrtle, Cold-Blooded Myrtle, and In Myrtle Peril), Mytle suspects foul play, especially when the advent of Miss Judson, Cook, and Myrtle causes some consternation among the staff at the estate. Jessie Craig, the Mistress of the Hounds, resents their presence, her grandmother, Mrs. Craig isn't wild about having to feed them, and the lawyer, Mr. Macewan, is surprised that they came. He thought they would sell Rockfford to Fyne Fisheries and be done with the place. The only ally they seem to have is Lt. Smoot, a policeman who personally helps them get to the island. The house is run down, there's no money for upkeep, and there's a lot of mystery surrounding the fishery, as well as a historic broach, the finding of which is supposed to help the McJudd estate. When Mr. Macewan is found murdered in a pond, Myrtle is not surprised. A neighbor, Kirkpatrick, is also trying to buy the estate, and when a pin with his clan symbol is found on Macewan's body, it doesn't look good, especially when it turns out that he's also been trying to pressure Jessie to marry him. The run down house has a lot of rooms in which to hide, and there are also rumors of ghosts. One of these "ghosts" turns out to be Gus, Jessie's brother, who is not supposed to be on the island. Will Myrtle be able to use all of her skills to unravel the mysteries and find a solution so that Miss Judson can come back to be in England with her and her father?

Good Points
There are some rhymed clues, a treasure map, and a lot of good sleuthing for readers who like to try to figure out the mystery for themselves, and the suspense holds until the very end of the book. While some of the plot elements are wrapped up nicely, there is plenty of room for a sequel when the group returns to England, having secured the future of Rockfford.

Fans of classic mysteries by Agatha Christie or Dorothy Sayers, or of modern books set during the past, like The Sweetness at the Bottom of the Pie (Flavia de Luce, #1) by Alan Bradley or Robin Stevens Wells and Wongs mysteries, will adore this deep dive into mysterious happenings, suspicious will changes, and moldering, remote estates. Bunce does modernize the characters by making Myrtle interested in science, and adding some diversity to the cast with Miss Judson's New Guinean background.

(The title of this review is a paraphrase of a song from the musical Brigadoon, once of my favorite movies!)
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