First sentence: “‘Correct me if I’m wrong.’ My governess, Miss Judson, strolled into the schoolroom, her sharp bootheels clicking like a telegraph.”
Move over Sherlock Holmes, there’s a new detective in town! Twelve-year-old Myrtle Hardcastle is making a run for his money, and she will not let any stones be unturned until she gets to the truth behind the murder! And the the murder she’s investigating? Well, it’s her wealthy elderly neighbor—Miss Wodehouse—who supposedly died in the bath. Did she though, or was there a sinister reason for her death?
For a curious girl like Myrtle, manners and propriety be damned! You won’t find her conforming to the what a young lady of her age and status should act—all prim and proper is not Myrtle. Myrtle is a girl who loves criminal science, and it’s no wonder since her dad is a well-respected prosecutor. She’s super intelligent and so curious. She wants to get to the bottom of the mysterious death of her neighbor, and she’ll do it by observing and sleuthing around her neighbor’s house for clues. I love how unafraid she was of asking questions, even if the questions are inappropriate for a twelve year old to be asking an adult.
Readers usually get characters who try to stifle the curiosity and spirit out of girls like Myrtle because it’s improper, but not Myrtle’s governess, Miss Judson. No matter how much Myrtle doesn’t act like a proper girl, Miss Judson lets Myrtle embrace who she is, and encourages it to an extent. That doesn’t mean Miss Judson doesn’t admonish Myrtle when she’s being insensitive. It’s just great to see an adult figure let Myrtle embrace her curiosity and actually take her seriously.
I love that Myrtle makes mistakes, and the book shows the consequences of her said actions. She’s so passionate that she doesn’t realize how her actions have an effect on the people around her. And when she makes those mistakes, readers get to see Myrtle learn from it and continue to sleuth knowing what she needs to do in the future.
Now, the “who-dun it” was quite predictable, but it was the journey that lead the characters to this moment that was a joy to read. Readers get to see how different clues lead Myrtle to her different suspects and how the relationships between all the characters involve help Myrtle gather more clues.
I enjoyed the way it was written like Myrtle’s recounting in her journal—that she knows somebody will read—about the murder of Miss Wodehouse. Sometimes, she’d address the reader, and I found it clever and amusing when she did so.
Should you read Premeditated Myrtle? Yes, this middle grade Victorian mystery is a charming read that shows you that Myrtle Hardcastle, who subverts all expectation of what a proper young lady should act, is the next great detectives you’ll ever read.