Tag Archive: Murder She Wrote


Edgar banner

Just a quick follow-up to news of the nominations 90 days ago–The Mystery Writers of America held its annual awards ceremony this afternoon for the Edgar Allan Poe or “Edgar” Awards, recognizing the mystery, crime, suspense, and intrigue genres in 12 categories.  The annual list memorializes the anniversary of the birth of Edgar Allan Poe, and this year’s nominees for the 2021 Edgar Allan Poe Awards honor the best in mystery fiction, non-fiction, and television published or produced in 2020.  Past winners include Raymond Chandler, John le Carré, Donald E. Westlake, Michael Crichton, Phyllis A. Whitney, Joan Lowery Nixon, Tony Hillerman, Ken Follett, Willo Davis Roberts, Gore Vidal, Nancy Springer, Gregory Mcdonald, Lawrence Block, James Patterson, Donald P. Bellisario, Glen A. Larson, Matt Nix, Rick Riordan, Reginald Rose, Quentin Tarantino, Elmore Leonard, Stuart Woods, and Stephen King.  It is the 75th Annual Edgar Awards and our own borg contributor Elizabeth C. Bunce won for her 2020 novel Premeditated Myrtle

Boo appearance Steph acceptance speech Congratulations, Elizabeth!
  Find out more about the Edgar Awards and Elizabeth here. Find the slate of 2021 Edgar Award recipients here. Congratulations to all the nominees and 2021 honorees! C.J. Bunce / Editor / borg

Agatha Award 1

Here’s some news that got us off to a great start this week–The Agatha Award nominees for 2021 were announced this weekend.  For more than three decades the annual honor has recognized nominees like familiar names John Grisham, Anne Perry, Max Allan Collins, Sue Grafton, Mary Higgins Clark, Charlaine Harris, Janet Evanovich, Ann Cleeves, Rhys Bowen, Charlotte MacLeod, and many more, as well as celebrated those significantly contributing to the mystery genre, like Angela Lansbury and David Suchet.  Nominees are announced early each year and winners awarded at the summer mystery convention Malice Domestic.  The annual list commemorates traditional mystery works typified by the novels of mystery author Agatha Christie (pictured above).  And who was nominated for the 2021 Agatha Award?  Our own borg contributor Elizabeth C. Bunce, for her novel Premeditated Myrtle

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Here’s some news that got us off to a great start this week–The Mystery Writers of America just announced its annual recognition of the mystery, crime, suspense, and intrigue genres. The annual list memorializes the anniversary of the birth of Edgar Allan Poe, and this year’s nominees for the 2021 Edgar Allan Poe Awards honor the best in mystery fiction, non-fiction, and television published or produced in 2020. The 75th Annual Edgar Awards will be celebrated on April 29, 2021.  And who is on the 2021 nominations shortlist? Our own borg contributor Elizabeth C. Bunce, for her 2020 novel Premeditated Myrtle

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Everyone needs some good news, right? In advance of Black Friday, this week Amazon announced its annual list of the Best Books of 2020. The list includes the Top 100 adult titles and the Top 120 children’s titles broken down by target audience (20 titles named for each of baby to age 2, ages 3-5, ages 6-8, ages 9-12, young adult, and a separate category for non-fiction). Amazon went on to select the Top 20 Children’s Books from this group. We’re happy to report that frequent borg contributor Elizabeth C. Bunce‘s mystery Premeditated Myrtle was named to Amazon’s Top 20 Children’s Book of 2020!

Premeditated Myrtle was previously named an Amazon Best of the Month Editor’s Pick and #1 Amazon New Release, and last month the second book in the series, How to Get Away with Myrtle, was a #1 Amazon New Release.   Online webzines Netflix Life and Fansided included the Myrtle Hardcastle Mystery Series on its list of “7 Books to Read if You Like Enola Holmes on Netflix.”  

Elizabeth’s first novel, A Curse Dark as Gold, won the American Library Association’s inaugural William C. Morris Award for a young adult debut novel and was named a Smithsonian Notable Book.  Her high fantasy Thief Errant series includes the novels StarCrossed, A Chicago Public Library Best of the Best Book for 2010, and Liar’s Moon, one of Kirkus Blog’s Favorite YA Novels of 2011.  StarCrossed and A Curse Dark as Gold have appeared on Oprah’s Kid’s Reading List.  Her novels have been named to the ALA’s Best Fiction for Young Adults list, and she is a three-time Kansas Notable Book winner.  Elizabeth completed her eighth novel and third novel in the Myrtle Hardcastle Mystery Series, Cold-Blooded Myrtle last month–it is slated for release next year. Learn more about the series and major industry reviews of Elizabeth’s books here.

In Premeditated Myrtle, readers will meet the quick-witted and fearless Myrtle Hardcastle, a twelve-year-old girl with an unseemly obsession with forensic science and criminology. When Myrtle’s wealthy neighbor dies under Mysterious Circumstances, Myrtle is the first to notice anything amiss. With the help of her unflappable governess and opinionated cat Peony, Myrtle takes it upon herself to follow the clues investigators overlooked. As more evidence emerges, she begins to believe that the town prosecutor, her own father, is pursuing the wrong man. Myrtle pores over toxicology textbooks, interrogates suspects, and does the one thing no Young Lady of Quality is ever supposed to do: she Goes Outside Alone After Dark. Myrtle Hardcastle may be just a twelve-year-old girl, but she is not the type to sit by while grown men botch a murder investigation. 

It’s no surprise that Myrtle can’t stay out of trouble for long, even when her father sends her off to the English seaside for some relaxation. In Book Two, How to Get Away with Myrtle, Myrtle, her governess, her insufferable Aunt Helena, and, of course, Peony the cat are loaded onto a private railway coach where Myrtle makes the acquaintance of Mrs. Bloom, a professional insurance investigator aboard to protect the priceless Northern Lights tiara. But before the train reaches its destination, the tiara vanishes and Myrtle discovers a body in the baggage car. The trip is derailed, the local police are inept, and Scotland Yard is in no rush to help. What’s a bored aspiring detective stranded in a washed-up carnival town to do but follow the evidence to discover which of her fellow travelers is a thief and a murderer?

Other titles selected by Amazon for its Top 20 Children’s Books of 2020 are Amy Timberlake and Jon Klassen’s Skunk and Badger, Katherine Applegate’s The One and Only Bob, Rita Lorraine Hubbard and Oge Mora’s The Oldest Student, Jewell Parker Rhodes’ Black Brother, Black Brother, Tami Charles and Bryan Collier’s All Because You Matter, Tehlor Kay Mejia’s Paolo Santiago and the River of Tears, Derrick Barnes and Gordon James’ I Am Every Good Thing, Jacqueline Woodson’s Before the Ever After, Jonathan Auxier and Olga Demidova’s The Fabled Stables, Jerome and Jarrett Pumphrey’s The Old Truck, Terry Fan’s The Barnabus Project, Lev Grossman’s The Silver Arrow, Victoria Jamieson and Omar Mohammed’s When Stars are Scattered, J. Kenji Lopez-Alt’s Every Night is Pizza Night, Peter H. Reynolds’ Be You, Chris Naylor-Ballesteros’ The Suitcase, Frances Stickley and Anuska Allepuz’s What Will You Dream of Tonight?, Ibram Kendi and Ashley Lukashevsky’s Antiracist Baby.

Elizabeth C. Bunce’s Myrtle Hardcastle Mystery Series is published by Algonquin Young Readers, a division of Workman Publishing Company.  Cover artwork for the series is created by Brett Helquist (A Series of Unfortunate Events) and Laura Williams. 

Congratulations, Elizabeth!

C.J. Bunce / Editor / borg

It’s not every day you get to be part of a project that is exciting and fun.  My wife, borg contributor, and author Elizabeth C. Bunce has been writing her Myrtle Hardcastle Mystery Series for a few years now.  Prompted by a quick utterance of “premeditated murder” and a 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.  But as Tom Petty said, “the waiting is the hardest part.”  Tomorrow, after the obligatory pandemic delay, not only does the first book, Premeditated Myrtle, arrive in bookstores, but the second installment, How to Get Away with Myrtle, too (available in hardcover, eBook, and audiobook).  How often do you begin a new series and can hardly wait that next year for the second installment?  Solved! 

It’s been exciting to watch Elizabeth build the story from the ground up, featuring 12-year-old Myrtle Hardcastle, an irrepressible and tenacious heroine living in England in 1893 as the sciences of criminology and forensics are taking off.  Her father is a local prosecutor, and with her governess Miss Judson she forms a sort of dynamic duo, solving crimes as she faces the pressures of Victorian society and growing up with other kids whose interests are less… morbid.  And the team is only complete with Peony, a truly opinionated neighbor cat, who joins her on her sleuthing.

“Bunce crafts a truly captivating murder mystery, throwing in a delicious mix of twists, red herrings, and relatives excluded from the family fortune…the book will make readers yearn for more of Myrtle’s (mis)adventures.”  —Bulletin of the Center for Children’s Books 

Premeditated Myrtle is currently an Amazon Best of the Month Editor’s Pick and #1 Amazon New Release, and last month How to Get Away with Myrtle was a #1 Amazon New Release (and is currently a #3 New Release).  Last week Netflix Life and Fansided included the Myrtle Hardcastle Mystery Series on its list of “7 Books to Read if You Like Enola Holmes on Netflix.”  

“In the tradition of heroines like Flavia de Luce and Harriet the Spy, Myrtle is a fine example of the Victorian scientific female—smart, inquisitive and fearless,” says Rhys Bowen, the New York Times bestselling author of the Her Royal Spyness series. “Written with a terrific mixture of humor and suspense, Premeditated Myrtle is a perfect read for any budding detective.”

Elizabeth’s first novel, A Curse Dark as Gold, won the American Library Association’s inaugural William C. Morris Award for a young adult debut novel and was named a Smithsonian Notable Book. Her high fantasy Thief Errant series includes the novels StarCrossed, A Chicago Public Library Best of the Best book for 2010, and Liar’s Moon, one of Kirkus Blog’s Favorite YA Novels of 2011. StarCrossed and A Curse Dark as Gold have appeared on Oprah’s Kid’s Reading List. Her novels have been named to the ALA’s Best Fiction for Young Adults list, and she is a three-time Kansas Notable Book winner. 

Here is more industry praise for Premeditated Myrtle and How to Get Away with Myrtle, coming to online and brick and mortar bookstores next week in the Myrtle Hardcastle Mystery Series:

PUBLISHER’S WEEKLY

Channeling classic Victorian whodunits, Bunce’s detective series opener features a quirky, winning narrator and a lively secondary cast… A generous, well-wrought relationship between governess and charge complements tightly plotted twists… Myrtle is as clever as she is determined, and her expertise—seen in evidence collection and courtroom antics—is certain to delight genre stalwarts and mystery novices alike. 

BOOKLIST STARRED REVIEW

There is something afoot at Redgraves… Myrtle’s above-average intellect, passions for justice and science (an endearing blend of her parents’ professions), fondness for detective stories, and predilection for asking questions make her the perfect person to investigate what is obviously a crime most foul. Written very much in the style of Alan Bradley’s Flavia de Luce mysteries, Myrtle’s spirited investigation—aided by her governess, who champions the Socratic method of learning—is a joyful thing to behold. Well-crafted red herrings throw Myrtle and readers alike for a loop or two…Set in Victorian England, this mystery gleefully overturns sexist norms and celebrates independent women of intellect, with Myrtle Hardcastle leading the charge.

BOOKPAGE STARRED REVIEW

Premeditated Myrtle is a book young readers will love and adults may well sneak out of backpacks and off of nightstands for their own enjoyment… Myrtle has an investigator’s tool kit and access to her prosecutor father’s law library; she is curious to a fault, brave and persistent. Bunce keeps secondary characters grounded in reality as well—even a cat has an interesting character arc—and the quest to determine who killed Miss Wodehouse is as keenly plotted as the best adult cozy. Here’s hoping for more adventures with this delightful, heroic protagonist. 

BULLETIN OF THE CENTER FOR CHILDREN’S BOOKS

Bunce crafts a truly captivating murder mystery, throwing in a delicious mix of twists, red herrings, and relatives excluded from the family fortune. Miss Judson and Myrtle work as a power duo, with Myrtle offering up big ideas and Judson giving those ideas practical applications. Myrtle is an entertaining protagonist, not afraid to get her hands dirty, sneak into mansions after dark to find a clue, or call out sexism of men toward her scientific interests or the racism toward her governess… the book will make readers yearn for more of Myrtle’s (mis)adventures. 

HORN BOOK MAGAZINE 

This clever and lively Victorian English village murder mystery starring precocious twelve-year-old fledgling detective Myrtle Hardcastle has all the trappings: households with cooks and governesses and groundskeepers; church luncheons and afternoon teas; mysterious newcomers; missing wills. Also, poisoned elderly ladies… Bunce does an excellent job of making Myrtle the lead actor but gives her a strong set of (mostly female) supporters… Myrtle’s narration is Arch with a capital A (“Dear Reader, kindly permit me to pause to properly introduce one of the Key Players in this narrative”), but it suits the novel’s setting and subgenre to a T.

KIRKUS REVIEWS 

A saucy, likable heroine shines in a mystery marked by clever, unexpected twists. 

BOOKLIST

Bunce fully utilizes the story’s classic mystery settings (the train, a grand hotel full of unusual guests, and a small town of memorable characters) as she spiritedly chucks red herrings at readers and Myrtle alike. Humor and wit make the narrative sparkle, and, happily, Myrtle is as irrepressible as ever.

SCHOOL LIBRARY JOURNAL

Readers who enjoyed Premeditated Myrtle will rejoice in this second installment featuring the plucky protagonist, her beautiful and multitalented governess Miss Judson, Peony the cat, and a whole new cast of strong female characters. References to Scotland Yard and investigative techniques will delight young Sherlock Holmes aficionados. The advanced vocabulary will send even the most sesquipedalian readers scurrying to the dictionary… VERDICT This deeply plotted sequel is an additional purchase for collections serving the most precocious readers who long for a fast-paced mystery where women shine.

Elizabeth will be appearing at several virtual events in the coming weeks beginning with a virtual book launch at Watermark Books, Tuesday, October 6, 2020.

Congratulations to Elizabeth on her book launch!

C.J. Bunce / Editor / borg

By Jason McClain (@JTorreyMcClain)

This week, Jerry Bruckheimer tweeted a picture of Johnny Depp and Armie Hammer starring as The Lone Ranger and Tonto.  Glancing at Wikipedia, The Lone Ranger started as a radio program, then becoming movies, a TV show, comic books, Saturday morning cartoons and eventually back to a TV show, comic book and a movie.  CJ Bunce reviewed the new comic back in February and it sounds pretty good.  From our discussion of Alan Moore there is a lot of stuff by good writers that are re-imagining of heroes, new takes or just new stories.  It feels weird to think and then write that maybe the remakes aren’t bad.  (Credit to CJ for making me lean in that direction from our discussion.)

I have to assume that The Lone Ranger is an iconic American hero because I didn’t really grow up watching the show in syndication like CJ.  Still, when you think of The Lone Ranger, you think of the TV show, as the serials have disappeared and no one really listens to old radio shows.  If you haven’t seen the TV show or read the comic books, you might not have a warm, fuzzy feeling about the characters.  But, if you have, then there will be a strong feeling of nostalgia gripping you as you hear stories about this movie’s approach to the multiplex.  If there’s one thing that I think I know, it’s that nostalgia sells.

So, I started to think about the cartoons, movies and TV programs of my youth (thanks to Ruby and Spears and the anticipation of that WonderCon panel sending me down memory lane) and how many have been made into movies or remade or re-imagined.  The list is quite extensive.  Here are a few along with the length of time to the remake.  I want to see if I can find an average of the length of time for the formula: profit = nostalgia times age.

Scooby Doo – started in 1969.  Film in 2002.  33 years.


The Brady Bunch – 1969.  Film in 1995.  26 years.


The Dukes of Hazzard – 1979.  Film in 2005.  26 years.


The Smurfs (American cartoon) – 1981.  Film in 2011.  30 years.


Psycho – 1960.  Remake – 1998.  38 years.


Footloose – 1984.  Remake – 2011.  27 years.


The Karate Kid – 1984.  Remake – 2010.  26 years.

I’m going to go ahead and call solution – 26 years is the age for the formula.  Let’s just say that given production times, the time to write a script and to get a cast, you need a couple of years of lead-time.  I’m going to say I need to start looking at movies and TV shows from 23 years ago.  So, if I was to predict the TV shows, cartoons and movies that will be remade, have a sequel made or made into movies in the next couple of years, here is your top ten of TV shows and movies that premiered in 1989:

10.  Major Dad (It’s a drama – will he or won’t he go to Iran?  It’s a comedy – will he or won’t he offend any natives?!  Oops, it’s really both (and probably a bit offensive)!)

9.  The Legend of Zelda (If they can make movies from Twilight shouldn’t this be a breeze?  Zelda plays a lot harder to get than Bella.)

8.  Doogie Howser M.D. (Starring Justin Bieber!  Neil Patrick Harris can do a funny cameo!)

7.  Coach (Make him the coach at Ohio State or… yeah, don’t go to the other big scandal school.  Penn State won’t be funny for a long, long, long, long time.  Kind of like Eddie Murphy.)

6.  The California Raisin Show (Don’t make an Elton John joke.  Don’t make an Elton John joke.  Don’t make an Elton John joke.)

5.  Saved By The Bell (If I had a dollar for every Saved By The Bell reference I’ve heard, well, I probably would have enough money to get me and several of my friends very hopped up on speed for a night.)

4.  Road House (Remember when bouncers used to be cool?  Now, it’s all “you can’t wear that to this club” or “you can’t come into this club” or “hahahahaha.”  Dalton would never laugh at me (I say as I sob into my iced tea.))

3.  Ghostbusters II/Lethal Weapon II (Dan Aykroyd and Mel Gibson will probably pull a Stallone and go back to the only well they have that’s still popular.  Aykroyd is almost there already.  Yes, I realize using sequels is cheating according to the Pismo Beach/Albuquerque Convention of 2007 governing Internet lists and right turns.)

2.  Murder, She Wrote (Yes, I know I am cheating again since this premiered in 1986.  Still, it was very popular in 1989.  Plus, can you think of a better ironic look at the 80s as a Betty White vehicle than this?  You can?  A Maggie Smith vehicle?  Ok, that works too.  Heck, Angela Lansbury is still available.  Too bad it wasn’t Murder, They Wrote.)

1.  Bill and Ted’s Excellent Adventure.  Hooray, they’ve already got the script.  I love this movie.  I can’t wait to see this.

You see I’ve already fallen for the nostalgia.  If any of these interest you, or you’ve thought of a few of your own, then you probably have as well.