Tag Archive: Elizabeth C. Bunce


A Curse Dark as Gold cover Elizabeth C Bunce

Halloween is less than two weeks away and if you’re still looking for a ghost story to get you into the mood of the season, check out Edgar Award winner and borg writer Elizabeth C. Bunce’s novel A Curse Dark as Gold, available in hardcover, paperback, and E-book editions from Amazon and other booksellers, first reviewed here back in 2011.  The audio book as read by British actress Charlotte Parry, known for her roles in Tony Award winning Broadway plays and TV work, is a great way to immerse yourself in this ghost story.  A Curse Dark as Gold is set in the Gold Valley in that far away land where fairy tales reside.  Charlotte Miller is a girl in her late teens whose father dies and leaves her the town of Shearing’s woolen mill, which serves as workplace for most of her community, along with the care of Charlotte’s younger sister Rosie.  Unwanted responsibilities fall into the lap of this young woman from page one.  At its foundation A Curse Dark as Gold at first is a spin on Rumpelstiltskin-type “helper” tales of the past, but this story takes on a life of its own.  Shearing is at once lovely and pastoral, yet dark and creepy doings begin to emanate from every corner.  A mysterious uncle arrives and begins to interject himself into the girls’ lives, pecking away at their sanity.  As if sick itself, the mill begins to respond to the death of Charlotte’s father, with boards crashing down, textile machines failing, and the very fabric of the town seeming to unravel.

A Curse Dark as Gold audio Elizabeth C Bunce told by Charlotte Parry

The story is set at the dawn of an Industrial Revolution in a world not unlike our own.  Water wheels are about to be replaced with steam power and the smoke-filled cities that come along with that new technology.  Charlotte has inherited her father’s acumen as a savvy businessperson, yet pressures including competition from big city wool firms and unfair attempts to squeeze Shearing’s mill out of the marketplace cause the mill to lose its workers.  The economic issues are only the beginning of Charlotte’s problems.  A strange neighbor lady is a follower of Old World ways, superstitions and magic, and she tries to help.  Charlotte is steadfast and stubborn, relying only upon her own intuition as she turns away from everyone near her, including sister Rosie and her new husband.

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A brand-new Victorian mystery will have you singing “Deck the Halls” in October, while you hunt for clues alongside twelve-year-old Myrtle Hardcastle, her unflappable governess Miss Judson, and their opinionated cat, Peony.  My wife, borg contributor, and Edgar Award-winning author Elizabeth C. Bunce has been writing her Myrtle Hardcastle Mystery Series for a few years now.  Prompted by a quick mis-utterance of “premeditated murder” and a chatty cat that showed up one night in the rain, a character and an idea took hold and before we knew it she had created and sold the first four books in a new series of mystery novels.  The first book, Premeditated Myrtle, an Indie Next Pick named to Amazon’s Top 20 Children’s Books of 2020, arrived in bookstores last year along with the second installment, How to Get Away with Myrtle, a #1 Amazon New Release.  Not only did Premeditated Myrtle win this year’s Edgar Award (the Mystery Writers of America award recognizing the mystery, crime, suspense, and intrigue genres, in its 75th year), it was named an Honor Book by the 106 years and counting Society for Midland Authors, it was named to the Library of Congress’s annual Great Reads from Great Places list, and it was nominated for the Agatha Award and Anthony Award. Tomorrow readers can follow Myrtle’s next sleuthing adventure in Cold-Blooded Myrtle, available in bookstores everywhere and here at Amazon.

Premeditated Myrtle introduced readers to Myrtle Hardcastle, an aspiring sleuth who can’t read enough about the new science of criminology, and hopes to one day work for Scotland Yard.  Her first case was the death of her neighbor, an expert on breeding rare flowers who dies under mysterious circumstances.  Premeditated Myrtle is a blend of To Kill a Mockingbird and A Secret Garden, as Myrtle tries to enlist the aid of her father, the town prosecutor, to help solve the case after she points to the wrong man.  In the second novel, How to Get Away with Myrtle, Myrtle, her curious cat Peony, and her intrepid governess Miss Judson embark on a seaside vacation on an excursion train.  But the vacation is cut short when a rare tiara is stolen and someone is murdered before the train arrives at the station.  It’s an Agatha Christie style mystery that finds Myrtle on the case as she’s stuck in a vacation town that is nothing like it was advertised, and everyone, including her aunt, is a suspect.

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In Cold-Blooded Myrtle, winter arrives and as Myrtle prepares for a hopefully uneventful traditional Dickensian Christmas, notable locals are found dead in ways that seem to mimic the murders of historical figures.  Soon Myrtle discovers her late mother was close to the victims, and Myrtle hopes secrets from her past and a famous archaeologist may lead to the truth.  A local newspaper reporter is digging into the case of a secret society and a missing student at nearby Schofield College, but is she getting too close, and why does she know so much?  And why is the reporter so chummy with family friend and legal clerk Mr. Blakeney?  What is the secret behind the long-closed bell tower?  Cold-Blooded Myrtle brings together The Watcher in the Woods, Phantom of the Opera, and The Goonies, as Myrtle, Judson, and Peony investigate an early Cold Case File. Industry reviewer Kirkus provided the novel a starred review, saying,

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Review by Elizabeth C. Bunce

You don’t need to be familiar with the Bad Boys franchise to love L.A.′s Finest, the two-season 2019-2020 series that missed most of its audience by streaming first exclusively on Spectrum’s cable platform.  Sure, it’s technically a spinoff of the raunchy buddy cop flicks starring Will Smith and Martin Lawrence.  Yes, Gabrielle Union reprises her role as Syd Burnett (sister of Lawrence’s character), a former DEA agent turned L.A. detective.  But this sharply-written action comedy cop show, with a leading duo that parallels both the drama and the antics of Smith and Lawrence, has much more going for it than its big brother movie series.  Starring Union (Bad Boys II, The Lion Guard) and Jessica Alba (Dark Angel, Fantastic Four) as ex-U.S. Navy intelligence expert, now detective Nancy McKenna, wisecracking partners in the Bad Boys mold, the series moves from its Miami roots to Los Angeles, and digs into local culture, politics, and above all, crime.  That’s really all you need to know about the show, whose 26 episodes at last made it to Netflix this summer.

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Review by Elizabeth C. Bunce

Make no mistake, despite the title, this BBC adaptation really is not Agatha Christie’s Ordeal by Innocence.  It is without doubt writer Sarah Phelps’s Ordeal by Innocence, and it stands out as the best of her recent adaptations of Christie’s works.  In many ways, the 2018 television series is better than its source material.  Phelps is known for adding prurient subtext and graphic imagery to her film versions, efforts that typically seem uncomfortably gratuitous (such as the gore and sado-masochism in The ABC Murders, reviewed here at borg).  But in the case of Ordeal by Innocence, the delivery is more even-handed and her departures make the story better.  I came into the three-part miniseries immediately after reading Christie’s novel.  Published in 1958, Ordeal by Innocence centers around the classic mystery trope of the missing alibi witness, but with a tragic twist.

One lonesome night, scientist Arthur Calgary (played by Attack the Block’s Luke Treadaway) picks up a hitchhiker, and then is unavoidably detained, unaware that his testimony could make or break a murder trial.  Jack Argyll (Jacko in the novel, played here by Derry Girls’ Anthony Boyle) has been convicted of the murder of his adopted mother, philanthropist Rachel Argyll, matriarch of a clan of adopted children and assorted other household members.  Jack, with his contentious relationship with Rachel and a history of petty crime, seems the ideal suspect for the crime.  When Dr. Calgary appears long after the fact to clear Jack’s name, his mission of mercy and justice is met with strange reactions from all involved.  It’s almost as if they want brother and son Jack to be guilty.

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After a year-and-a-half delay from the COVID pandemic, the pop culture convention Planet Comicon Kansas City slipped in what may be a final convention circuit event for 2021 this weekend, as COVID cases return to the worst of last year’s numbers.  The Kansas City community came together, complying with the city’s mask mandate, tens of thousands of attendees in the five-football-field-sized space of the Kansas City Convention Center over three days.  And masks and acrylic sneeze guards didn’t seem to detract at all from the fun of attendees, cosplayers, creators, and other guests, with only a few detractors not complying (we estimate 1% or less didn’t follow the rules, including, unfortunately, a few exhibitors).  The event hosted a pantheon of celebrities, this year focusing on actors from the long-running series Supernatural, plus nationally recognized writers and artists, all for its eighth year in its downtown Kansas City, Missouri, venue.  Unless other conventions follow the new trend of requiring vaccination cards as happening in New York City, San Francisco, and at NFL games, plus more national businesses and restaurants joining in (or the rest of the outliers just get the shot), this could be the last of the big indoor Midwest events this year.  The show ran Friday, August 20 through Sunday, August 22.  Check out several photos below, which should give you a feel for the attendance, and some of the guests and fans.

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PCKC 2021 COMICS HEADLINERS

Friday the pop culture convention Planet Comicon Kansas City is back, this time to celebrate its 21st year.  The event hosts a pantheon of nationally recognized writers and artists for its eighth year in its downtown Kansas City, Missouri, venue at the Kansas City Convention Center.  The show runs Friday, August 20 through Sunday, August 22.  It’s a chance to step carefully back into normalcy for many pop culture fans–it may just be the biggest comic convention yet where everyone shows up in masks.  Some of the biggest names and most popular comics creators are in the line-up for the 2021 event, probably the best-known being Roy Thomas, the comic book writer and editor who was Stan Lee’s first successor as editor-in-chief of Marvel Comics.  Characters he created or co-created include Wolverine, Ghost Rider, Vision, Carol Danvers, Luke Cage, Iron Fist, Red Sonja, Ultron, Man-Thing, Red Guardian, and Valkyrie, the majority of which have become so famous they’ve made it to recent big or small screen adaptations.  Famous for his work on X-Men and Avengers, Thomas is also known for his work on classic titles All-Star Squadron and Justice Society of America.

PCKC 2021 HEADLINERS

Several other comic book creators scheduled to attend include Ande Parks, Ant Lucia, Megan Levens, Seth Peck, Rob DavisJason Arnett, Bryan Fyffe, Bryan Timmins, Darryl Woods, Afua Richardson, Joe Corroney, and Darren Neely.  In addition to comics creators, novelists scheduled for the show include borg.com writer and author Elizabeth C. Bunce, noted Star Trek authors Kevin Dilmore and Dayton Ward, and Star Wars authors Kevin J. Anderson, John Jackson Miller, and Timothy Zahn–and many more.

Back again, the Elite Comics flight crew is planning its “Party on the Pillar” hoping for attendees to pick up some great deals on what the Con is all about–comics.

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Darth Vader, Flash Gordon, The Incredible Hulk, Ariel from The Little Mermaid, characters from Supernatural, the CW Arrowverse, Stranger Things, Star Trek, Laverne & Shirley, The Brady Bunch, The Karate Kid, RWBY, My Hero Academia, your favorite writers and artists, and more are heading to Kansas City this week

For twenty-one years Planet Comicon Kansas City has been one of the Midwest’s biggest comic book and pop culture conventions and that was no less so in 2014 when it became the largest attended event in the history of the Kansas City Convention Center.  And it’s only gotten bigger.  The last show featured guests including Henry Winkler, William Shatner, John Wesley Shipp, Cary Elwes, and Joonas Suotamo, and this year more memorable names from TV and movies from the past and present are scheduled to attend.  Leading things off is Misha Collins and a slate of actors from Supernatural (and one of the Winchester brothers’ cars from the series), the series making its biggest ever regional fan appearance at the annual event, which takes place at Kansas City’s convention center at Bartle Hall, August 20-22, 2021.

Making their second appearances at the event are Darth Vader actor (and Guardians of the Galaxy and Harry Potter universe actor) Spencer Wilding and Star Trek legends–Dr. Crusher herself Gates McFadden and Worf’s brother Nikolai Paul Sorvino (…and The Firm, Goodfellas, Law and Order, etc.).  They’ll be joined by Gaten Matarazzo and Gabriella Pizzolo from Stranger Things, The Doors and Entourage star Kevin Dillon, The Karate Kid and Cobra Kai stars Martin Kove and William Zabka, and a host of superhero performers from past and present, including CW Arrowverse actors Stephen Amell and Katie Cassidy plus original The Incredible Hulk actor Lou Ferrigno and Flash Gordon actor Sam Jones.

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There’s something for every TV and movie fanboy and fangirl at this year’s show.

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Glass magician cover

Review by Elizabeth C. Bunce

Caroline Stevermer’s acclaimed historical fantasy work now includes a tale of turn-of-the-twentieth century New York City and its magical elite.  In The Glass Magician a stage magician discovers there’s much more to her identity—and her talents—than she ever realized.

Thalia Cutler is a natural-born stage magician.  Trained in the craft by her late father and his lifelong friend, now her manager, Thalia and her tricks entertain crowds on the East Coast vaudeville circuit.  But this is not exactly the 1905 East Coast of our world; this is an alternate historical America where people with real magic live alongside the Solitaires, or mundane folk.  Well, not quite alongside: the wealthy Traders are the elite and powerful upper crust of society, barely deigning to acknowledge the Solitaires; and the solemn Silvestri keep to themselves, literally communing with nature.

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Boucher Myrtle

Do not adjust your screen–this is not a repeat post.  Regular borg readers know about novelist Elizabeth C. Bunce′s reviews, and this year she has had had great success with her mystery series, beginning with Premeditated Myrtle, which won this year’s Edgar Award (honoring mystery writing pioneer Edgar Allan Poe).  We previously announced that she is nominated for the Agatha Award (honoring Agatha Christie) to be named this summer, and we’re happy to report she has just been nominated for this year’s Anthony Award!  Her book becomes one of only seven middle grade novels to have been nominated in the history of the award.

The Anthony Award is an annual recognition for mystery authors, named to honor mystery writer and Mystery Writers of America co-founder Anthony Boucher (shown above, with cat friend).  Boucher was also known for his science fiction and critical works.  Past novelists recognized by the Anthony Awards include J.K. Rowling, Daphne Du Maurier, Agatha Christie, Stephen King, Rhys Bowen, Robert B. Parker, Max Allan Collins, Jill Thompson, Louise Penny, Lawrence Block, Sue Grafton, Jonathan Kellerman, Tony Hillerman, Charlaine Harris, Thomas Harris, Patricia Cornwell, Ann Rule, Alan Bradley, Sharyn McCrumb, Donald E. Westlake, Rick Riordan, and Lee Child.  This year the award will be announced at the annual World Mystery Convention (also called Bouchercon) in late summer, to be held virtually or in person from New Orleans.  It is the convention’s 52nd year.

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Find out more about Elizabeth and her novel Premeditated Myrtle here.  Check out Elizabeth’s reviews of books, TV, and movies at borg here.

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