Young detective Myrtle Hardcastle is on the case once more in Elizabeth C. Bunce’s How to Get Away With Myrtle, the next book about the intrepid sleuth after Premeditated Myrtle, which BookPage called “a book young readers will love and adults may well sneak out of backpacks and off of nightstands for their own enjoyment” in a starred review.
How to Get Away With Myrtle finds Myrtle reluctantly joining her Aunt Helena on a trip to the English seaside, though Myrtle would much rather be at home, where she can keep tabs on More Important Things like local criminals and murder trials. But since she has no say in the matter, Myrtle finds herself shipped off on an admittedly fabulous private train coach, along with her faithful governess and her cat, Peony.
Once on board, Myrtle is excited to discover that one of her fellow passengers is Mrs. Bloom, an insurance investigator tasked with protecting a priceless tiara. But when both Mrs. Bloom and the tiara vanish, and Myrtle discovers a dead body in the baggage car, the trip is quickly derailed. Surrounded by the ineptitude of the local police force and stranded in a backwater carnival town, Myrtle has no choice but to follow the evidence to uncover which of her fellow passengers is a thief and a murderer.
How to Get Away With Myrtle will hit shelves at bookstores and libraries everywhere on Oct. 6, 2020—the same day as Premeditated Myrtle!—but you can see the gorgeous cover, illustrated by Bret Helquist, and read an exclusive excerpt right now. Just scroll down!
Chapter 1: Extradition
“Just as no scientific or military expedition would set off without adequate supplies, equipment, and reconnaissance, the same is no less important for leisure travel.”—Hardcastle’s Practical Travel Companion: A Compendium of Useful Advice & Select Destinations of Note for the Modern Tourist, Vol. I, 1893
“Think of it as an academic exercise.” Miss Judson, my governess, dropped another armload of chemisettes onto the bed. Peony let out a mew of protest and sought refuge in the trunk.
“In what discipline?” I surreptitiously withdrew two petticoats from my luggage, replacing them with the latest edition of English Law Reports and three volumes of my encyclopædia. Taking the whole set seemed excessive, but I could not be sure Fairhaven would have a bookshop or a lending library. The Brochure had not specified.
“Put that middy* back,” Miss Judson said. “Aunt Helena will expect to see you in it. And discipline is exactly right. You and I shall be practicing our Exceptional Forbearance.”
“I thought we were going to frolic on sunny beaches and partake of Family Amusements.” The Brochure had likewise not specified what, precisely, a “Family Amusement” entailed, but I suspected nothing good. “Besides, that dress is ridiculous! I’m not a naval recruit.”
I felt like one, though, press-ganged into a Seaside Holiday by ruthless schemers who were entirely unsympathetic to my objections.
Miss Judson retrieved the garment and folded it anew. “We have been over this. Your aunt wants to take you on holiday—”
“No, she doesn’t.”
“Myrtle. You have exhausted your appeals. Accept your sentence gracefully.” As soon as she said that, I could tell she wanted to take the words back.
“My sentence?” I cried. “I am being punished.” I threw down the heap of petticoats.
“Of course you’re not,” said Miss Judson. “Stop getting carried away.”
“What happened this summer wasn’t my fault! Father told me that himself.” Arms crossed, I willed Miss Judson to prove me wrong.
“He meant it. This holiday is to get away from all of that—”
“Father went all the way to Paris to get away from me.”
Miss Judson turned me to face her. “You may not believe this, but your father just wants you to have a good time—”
“I’d have a good time in Paris. With him.”
“—doing something that does not involve murder.”
I glowered at her. “An ordinary holiday. Like an ordinary girl.”
“Exactly. I’m sure you can manage that. Rumor has it you’re clever and resourceful.”
She plucked the Ballingall Excursions brochure from my hands and slipped it into my valise. “Finish packing. We’re going to miss the train. Be downstairs in fifteen minutes, and if that hat is not on your head when you appear, I shall make you sit next to Aunt Helena for the entire trip.”
She would, too. Peony offered a little warble of sympathy.
Defeated, I beheld the sea of garments before me. My great aunt Helena had been sending shipments of new clothes for weeks. My Holiday Wardrobe was now three times the size of my regular wardrobe, and included the aforementioned sailor suit (for yachting), a Promenade Ensemble (for walking), a Walking Dress (for . . . ?), and a perfectly horrifying bathing costume, of which no further mention shall be made, for the protection of the Reader’s delicate sensibilities.
“Exceptional Forbearance, indeed,” I said to Peony. “Assuming I don’t die of boredom.” I hadn’t yet seen a case that could reliably cite Tedium as a cause of death—but if I had to be the first case study, at least the holiday wouldn’t be a complete waste of time.
“Mrrow,” Peony agreed.
“It’s all very well for you,” I said. “You’ll be here with your sunbeams and your fish heads and Cook.” With a final wretched sigh, I picked up The Hat—the crowning humiliation, quite literally, of this ordeal. With its enormous puce† bow, tiny velvet pumpkins, and sprig of dried wheat, it looked like a rotting autumnal meadow. All it lacked was a couple of flesh-eating beetles.
Peony hissed and swatted at the ribbon.
I beheld Peony. I beheld the hat. I beheld my trunk crammed full of holiday clothes and not nearly enough books. Peony beheld them as well.
“No,” she said, firmly.
“If I have to do this, so do you.” I scooped her up and dropped her unceremoniously into the hatbox,‡ along with a nice flannel petticoat and a leftover biscuit. Before closing the trunk, I defiantly tossed in my magnifying lens, slingshot, and a sturdy pair of Wellies that may or may not still have been wet from earlier. The hat, like a martyr, I wore.
* a garment inexplicably fashioned after a midshipman’s uniform; id est, a sailor suit
† named for the French word for flea, the flattering hue of digested blood
‡Lest you fear for her safety, she had been sleeping in that hatbox for the better part of the week, and it was quite the latest in hatbox engineering, sturdy pasteboard and mesh, so there was perfectly adequate oxygen.
This excerpt is reprinted courtesy of Algonquin Young Readers.