Tag Archive: Sherlock Holmes


As we mentioned earlier this month, 2021 Edgar Award-winning author and borg contributor Elizabeth C. Bunce was nominated for her second Edgar Award, for the second year in a row.  This weekend she added another accolade for her novel Cold-Blooded Myrtle, as she was nominated for the Agatha Award, Elizabeth’s second year nominated for the award, which commemorates traditional mystery works typified by the novels of mystery author Agatha Christie (pictured above, left).  Past nominees have included John Grisham, Anne Perry, Max Allan Collins, Sue Grafton, Mary Higgins Clark, Charlaine Harris, Janet Evanovich, Ann Cleeves, Rhys Bowen, Charlotte MacLeod–and Elizabeth.  Nominees are announced early each year and winners awarded at the mystery convention Malice Domestic.

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Congratulations to Elizabeth for her nomination for Cold-Blooded Myrtle

From Elizabeth’s publisher:

Cold-Blooded Myrtle opens moments before the grand reveal of the annual Christmas shop display at Leighton’s Mercantile.  As Myrtle and the townsfolk of Swinburne gather for the yearly tradition, it becomes clear something isn’t right.  The proprietor of Leighton’s Mercantile is found dead and the display tampered with.  But who would want to kill the local dry-goods merchant?  Perhaps someone who remembers the mysterious scandal that destroyed his career as a professor and archaeologist involving the disappearance of a local college student.  When the killer strikes again, each time manipulating the figures in the Christmas display to foretell the crime, Myrtle, Miss Judson, and Peony the cat set out to unravel a twisted tale of secret societies, cryptic messages, long-buried secrets, and a killer bent on revenge.  The case becomes even more personal when clues connect Myrtle’s own deceased mother to the sinister happenings.

“A holiday mystery is a crime fiction tradition, and many of our modern holiday customs have their origins in the Victorian era,” explains Elizabeth.  “I knew from the start one of the books would have to take place during an Exceptionally Victorian Christmas.”  Elizabeth goes on to say, “I hope that young readers see Myrtle’s determination and curiosity as an invitation to be bold and curious in their own lives.  Myrtle is a heroine who doggedly pursues her own path, despite outside pressures trying to define her.  I want kids to see that it’s ok to embrace their own passions and interests too, whatever they might be.”

The perfect holiday book for young readers and grown-up mystery fans alike, this fantastic third installment of the award-winning Myrtle Hardcastle Mystery Series promises scandal and drama, Victorian rule-breaking, early forensics, code cracking, and a packed cast of delightful and eccentric friends and foes.

In addition to the 2022 Edgar Award and Agatha Award nominations, Cold-Blooded Myrtle has been named a Kirkus 2021 Top 10 Best Book of the Year and a Wall Street Journal holiday guide recommendation.  It’s available in hardcover, ebook, and audiobook here at Amazon.

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Review by C.J. Bunce

One of the greatest living writers is back with something different.  Although his horror prowess shines through, Kim Newman (interviewed here) has penned a story that would make anyone think he has spent his career writing noir stories.  His new novel Something More Than Night takes its title from a line from a Raymond Chandler novel (Trouble is My Business).  It’s a story that takes real-life commonalities of the 1930s lives of Chandler and monster movie actor Boris Karloff and weaves them into a moody mystery far better than anything Chandler ever wrote.  Newman, master of horror as evidenced in his Anno Dracula books and stories, delivers a worthy sequel of sorts to Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein, featuring dazzling, powerful writing that is not only the best of its genre, its as masterfully penned a novel as in any genre.  Newman’s literary works have been studied in colleges since the 1990s, and this mash-up illustrates why–it’s a showcase of his knowledge of history, Hollywood, and writing styles that will leave you wanting even more.

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Review by C.J. Bunce

In the new mystery-horror mash-up, Sherlock Holmes & Count Dracula: The Classified Dossier, Volume 1, writer Christian Klaver jumps right in, serving up Arthur Conan Doyle’s detective and Bram Stoker’s Count not in a face-off, but as a team-up.  As more rights to Doyle’s works enter the public domain, publishers continue to release dozens of new Holmes books each year, each supplying more files for the seemingly endless drawer of his own “expanded universe” cases (come 2023 anyone will be free to write a Holmes story about anything).  This story, another told via the perspective of the reliable confidante Dr. John Watson, is made more fun, because “the more genres, the merrier.”
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Along with A Visit from St. Nicholas, there is no more famous Christmas story than Charles DickensA Christmas Carol Since it debuted in 1843 it’s been reprinted hundreds of times, made into more than 100 films, and its ghostly lesson trope has been incorporated into dozens of TV series.   For England, A Christmas Carol meant the revival of universal celebration of the holiday of Christmas that would spread across the planet, as well as cementing traditions that continue 178 Christmases later.  I want to share an idea for your own cold winter read in the tradition of a very Victorian Christmas in England:  borg writer Elizabeth C. Bunce’s latest novel, Cold-Blooded Myrtle, the third book in her Edgar Award-winning mystery series.  As reviewed in the Wall Street Journal this month, “Younger [Sherlock] Holmes fans (and older ones too) should be charmed by Bunce’s Cold-Blooded Myrtle, the latest entry in her series featuring 12-year-old amateur sleuth Myrtle Hardcastle.  In 1893, Myrtle receives a double Christmastime shock: the death, in The Final Problem, of her fictional idol Holmes, and the apparent murder of the proprietor of her town’s mercantile store.  Tidings of discomfort, indeed.”  It’s chock full of Myrtle’s notations on Christmas traditions, including some little-known oddities from Christmases past.

After a year that saw her helping the constabulary discover the murderer of her neighbor and surviving a botched vacation at seaside where she foiled more than one criminal’s efforts, young Myrtle hopes to have an ordinary Christmas.  Her current pursuit is simply finding an appropriate present for her unflappable governess–and frequent partner in solving crime–Miss Ada Judson.  But when does anything ever go as planned at Christmas?

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Review by Elizabeth C. Bunce

An “inverted mystery” is a story that follows a criminal through the planning and commission of a crime–usually murder–from initial conception through the culprit’s ultimate downfall and apprehension (think Law & Order: Criminal Intent).  The focus is on the criminal’s mindset and how his dark scheme unravels.  Tim Major’s The New Adventure of Sherlock Holmes novel The Back-to-Front Murder is a twist on this subgenre… sort of.  Beginning with the classic Sherlockian setup—a client with a curious conundrum—Major’s novel unravels the puzzling murder of a London widower whom it seems no one would have any reason to want dead, least of all Holmes’s new client.  The trouble is, the client did plan the murder, down to the very last detail.

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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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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

Beast of the Stapletons

Review by C.J. Bunce

Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s 1902 story The Hound of the Baskervilles finds a sequel 120 years later in the latest Sherlock Holmes spin-off novel from writer James Lovegrove.  Readers will find further adventures of not only that novella, but more connections to past works in Sherlock Holmes and The Beast of the Stapletons, a novel in the same series as the author’s Sherlock Holmes and the Christmas Demon, previously reviewed here at borg.   The question for readers of Lovegrove’s other works, including his Cthulhu Casebook novels and other stories from Titan Books, is: Will he or won’t he? That is, will the beast of the title be something out of the real world (as in Sherlock Holmes and the Christmas Demon) or, as in his Cthulhu tie-ins, something from the world of fantasy?  The best part of this story is the absence for the bulk of the tale of Sherlock’s right arm, Dr. John Watson, who tends toward the whiny and needy in past recent retellings.  A new, interesting foil steps in for this mystery, taking Holmes more in the direction of another famous British franchise.

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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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In the next of what has been literally thousands of adaptations over the past 134 years of Doyle stories of his famous detective Sherlock Holmes and companion Dr. John Watson, Holmes takes the backseat and Doyle’s street urchins called the Baker Street Irregulars take center stage.  Netflix’s The Irregulars is an eight-episode series set in Doyle’s traditional Victorian London, following the local troubled young adult/teenagers who now solve crimes at the behest (as in blackmail) of Watson, leaving an elusive, drug-addict Holmes to get all the credit for their successes.  The crimes aren’t garden-variety either, with dark supernatural twists promised for the series.  Henry Lloyd-Hughes (The Pale Horse) plays Holmes, Royce Pierreson (Death in Paradise) is Watson, and the ubiquitous Aidan McArdle (Ella Enchanted, Humans, Mr. Selfridge) is Inspector Lestrade, but they aren’t the leads.  Those are played by young Thaddea Graham (The Letter for the King), Darci Shaw (Judy), Jojo Macari (Cursed), McKell David (The Gentlemen), and Harrison Osterfield (Chaos Walking).  It feels like Sherlock Holmes with a Doctor Who spin.

Take a look at the trailer for Netflix’s The Irregulars:

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