Reading good mystery books challenges kids to think because kids use deductive reasoning, observation, and inference to figure out the solution before the end of the book’s story. Or, at the very least, readers will think about the clues they missed and how they fit together to solve the puzzle.
Why should kids read mystery books?
Fans of the mystery genre love how a good mystery makes them think. It requires readers to pay attention to clues, make and revise predictions using those clues, and attempt to solve the mystery before the main character does.
In the mystery books below, you’ll find stories with puzzles or crimes where amateur or professional detectives must overcome obstacles, notice clues, follow leads, ignore red herrings, and solve the crime or mystery.
If your children or students haven’t yet read the mystery genre, these are fun reads because they’re so immersive and engaging.What makes a good mystery book?
Some good mystery books are about amateur sleuths, some are about secrets, others are historical mysteries, but no matter what crimes are waiting to be solved, all of these stories will grab and keep your attention.
Many of these book choices are ongoing series, while others are stand-alone novels. I love the series to hook readers on one a highly recommended mystery books because it keeps readers reading.
Do you have mystery book recommendations for all ages?
Whether your child is in elementary school, middle school, or high school, in this list, you’ll find many good mystery stories for kids ages 5 to 18 to read.
The list of mystery books starts with beginning chapter books for children ages 6, 7, and 8, then continues to middle grade books for readers ages 9, 10, 11, and 12, and finishes with YA books for teen readers ages 13 and up.
If you have younger readers, find good mystery picture books for them here.
Ready to dive into a who-done-it, edge-of-your-seat mystery book?
Good Mystery Books
Table of Contents
The Magic Tree House by Mary Pope Osborne
A MUST-READ mystery and historical fiction series for all kids! This series combines mystery, history, magic, and adventure as siblings Jack and Annie adventure through time.
King and Kayla and the Case of the Unhappy Neighbor by Dori Hillestad Butler, illustrated by Nancy Meyers
Kayla’s dog King narrates this mystery story about a problem with Mr. Gary’s messed-up trash cans. Mr. Gary thinks it’s a puppy named Thor, but Kaya and her friend Jillian aren’t so sure. Together they collect evidence and make deductions and a play. The final clue leads them to the real culprit — a raccoon. Easy to read with a relatable mystery.
Super Detectives Simon and Chester by Cale Atkinson
A new, funny beginning graphic novel! Nic and his ghost friend Simon are bored, so they dress up and pretend to be detectives. The friends advertise, but no one shows up — except a mysterious pug who doesn’t belong to them. Who is the pug? The detectives ask around and follow clues — and it’s hilarious!
Dying to Meet You 43 Cemetary Road by Kate Klise, illustrated by M. Sarah Klise
The 43 Old Cemetery Road early chapter book series is a funny and punny mystery adventure with a kid, a cat, a grumpy ghost with a cool format comprised of letters, emails, newspaper clippings, jokes, and more. These books are addictive!
Big Bad Detective Agency by Bruce Hale
The Big Bad Wolf named Wolfgang is the only suspect in the destruction of the Little Pigs’ house. And he doesn’t have an alibi. But he didn’t do it so he partners with the cheerful 4th Little Pig, Ferkel to find the real culprit. Don’t miss this humorous fairy-tale mystery mash-up with more adventures in the series.
Secret Spy Society The Case of the Missing Cheetah by Veronica Mang
Three friends find out that their teacher is a spy…and then meet her spy friends. The spy group is female and all historically famous from different time periods, who ask the kids to help them spy on a neighbor. They think that he kidnapped Josephine Baker’s pet cheetah. Not only do the girls spy on him, but they sneak into his house, find the cheetah, and get caught!! Luckily, the Lady Spies come to the rescue!
Bark Park by Brandi Dougherty, illustrated by Paige Pooler
Scout’s life is filled with mystery and adventure as she helps her dog friends. Charming characters and gentle storylines.
P.I. Butterfly Gone Guppy Case #1 by Karen Kilpatrick, illustrated by German Blanco
P.I Butterfly loves butterflies and mysteries. When she discovers the family guppy is missing from the fish bowl, she’s determined to discover what happened. But who did it? She searches for clues and interviews suspects. She puts together the evidence, follows the trail of clues, and tries to get a confession–and, with hard work and persistence, solves the case! Not only is this a delightful story, but it’s filled with problem-solving, critical thinking, and deductive reasoning.
Word Travelers and the Taj Mahal Mystery by Raj Haldar, illustrated by Nehra Rawat
When Eddie wonders where the word pajama came from, his mom tells him to look in his great-grandfather’s big book of word history (etymology). When they open the book, they’re magically transported to India. There, they help a boy solve the clues to find his family’s missing fortune before a bad guy gets it. As they solve the clues, they learn more words with Indian roots — many are from Hindi, like bangle and bungalow, and others are from Sanskrit, like the words jackal and jungle.
Pup Detectives by Felix Gumpaw
Someone keeps stealing all the lunches at Pawston Elementary, and it’s up to this group of mystery-solving dogs to investigate! Join Rider and her friends as they crack this lunchroom case once and for all.
The Lunchnapper: Pipsi Nature Animal Detective by Rick DeDonato, illustrated by Tracy Bishop
Pipsi is excited to go on a nature scavenger hunt, but it turns into a mystery when someone steals her lunch. While investigating, she and her turtle friend, Alfred, follow tracks and discover the items on the scavenger hunt. Great illustrations and an interesting story.
A to Z Mysteries by Rob Roy
This addictive mystery series will keep your kids reading for hours and days and months. My kids read them all more than once — we highly recommend this series about a group of crime-solving friends.
A to Z Animal Mysteries The Absent Alpacas by Kayla Whaley, illustrated by Chloe Burgett
This new mystery series with an animal focus is written by a different author than the original A to Z mysteries. It offers readers more representation with a girl in a chair and main characters of color. Also different is that the illustrations are in full color. I liked it, but didn’t love it. I wonder what your readers will think. Let me know! In this story, the friends investigate a group of missing alpacas belonging to their friend who is falsely accused of stealing them.
The Case of the Claymore Diamond Math Inspectors by Daniel Kenney and Emily Boever
Viva math! These friends love math and are proud of it — in fact, they’re sure they can use their math skills to solve crimes. This first mystery is about a jewelry store robbery. And they do solve it by finding clues that the police miss, freeing an innocent man. This is a delightful easy chapter book series. (Free for Kindle Unlimited subscribers.)
Crime Biters: My Dog Is Better Than Your Dog by Tommy Greenwald
This is a funny beginning chapter book about a boy who is convinced (rightly so?!) that his rescue dog is a crime-solving, vampire genius!
Real Pigeons Fight Crime by Ben Wood
In the first of three silly stories, Rock Pigeon is a crime-fighting pigeon who helps Grandpouter and the other park pigeons solve the problem of the vanishing breadcrumbs. With hilarious disguises, charming illustrations, quirky characters, and funny mysteries, this is an entertaining romp that is sure to entice even the most reluctant of readers.
The Philly Fake Ballpark Mysteries by David A. Kelly, illustrated by Mark Meyers
Not only is this a well-written mystery, but I also loved how the author included so much history within the story. Plus, the mystery hooked me immediately. This is one of my top picks for early chapter books!
West Meadow Detectives: The Case of the Snack Snatcher by Liam O’Donnell, illustrated by Aurelie Grand
Myron’s new school isn’t too bad because there’s a mystery — who is stealing the snacks every morning? He and his new friend, Hajrah, both in a special class for half the day, decide to get to the bottom of this mystery. I liked the diversity of students and thought the story was well-paced and interesting.
Basil of Baker Street by Eve Titus, illustrated by Paul Galdone
Living with the famous Sherlock Holmes is how Basil learns to be a skilled detective. He must race against the clock to find the kidnapped mouse twins before it’s too late. Kids will love these suspenseful beginning reader mysteries narrated by Basil’s friend, Dr. Dawson.
Emma Is On the Air Party Drama! by Ida Siegal (series)
Emma and her friends are excited about the upcoming costume contest — but when Sophia’s costume disappears mysteriously, the group must investigate clues and interviews witnesses to discover what happened. Kids will enjoy this new easy chapter book series with friends who find news and share it in video news reports.
Secrets of the Manor: Claire’s Story, 1910 by Adele Whitby
I loved this mystery book — it’s a captivating mystery featuring an orphan girl who moves to France to live with friends of her family. She befriends a servant girl and the duo realizes there are mysteries that must be answered — like what happened to the daughter of the manor and why did her parents send her to this family.
The Haunted Library by Dori Hillestad Butler
My 9-year-old daughter and I loved this entertaining new series about a boy ghost, Kaz, who is blown away from his family and into a new haunt — a library. But who is the library ghost? It’s not him! He and his new friend Claire decide to investigate the secret of the ghost.
Mac Undercover (Kid Spy #1) by Mac Barnett, illustrated by Mike Lowery
This funny adventure is about a kid who the queen of England uses to solve an important mystery…You’ll need to withhold disbelief, or at least I did, but it’s super cute and popular with many younger readers. The story includes lots of illustrations, fabulous vocabulary words explained and repeated that perfectly fit the story such as regicide, and a kid-powered plot.
The Great Shelby Holmes by Elizabeth Eulberg
I loved this Sherlock Holmes inspired mystery book because it’s very well written and tells a great story. John Watson and his mom move to Harlem. There he meets a unique girl named Shelby Holmes who reluctantly allows him to tag along with her as she solves her latest crime — the mystery of who took a posh, show-dog from a classmate’s secure house.
Mysteries of Sherlock Holmes (A Stepping Stone Book) by
Missing! A Cat Called Buster (Rainbow Street Shelter) by Wendy Orr
Josh always sees the orange cat, Buster, sitting on the porch with his owner, Mr. Larsen. When Mr. Larsen is taken to the hospital, Buster runs away from home. Josh and his family search for Buster everywhere. Will he end up at the Rainbow Street Animal Shelter? And who will he live with now? It’s a sweet story of animal love and family closeness.
Snoop Troop It Came from Beneath the Playground by Kirk Scroggs
Comic-book style illustrations with lots of interactivity in this interesting story impressed me. As a reader, you get to play a part in solving the crime by looking for clues in the pictures, drawing the culprit based on the description, and so on. Isn’t that cool?
Digby O’Day and the Great Diamond Robbery by Shirley Hughes and Clara Vulliamy
Charming illustrations in red and yellow colors help readers enjoy this story about Digby’s memorable vacation. He and Percy visit the fancy Hotel Splendide. While there, the singer Peaches Meow’s, diamonds are stolen! With the help of a new friend on the island, Percy and Digby catch the thieves.
The Seals That Wouldn’t Swim, Field Trip Mysteries by Steve Brezenoff, illustrated by Marcos CaloThe Field Trip Mysteries are the field trips of Cat and her classmates. In this particular adventure, they are at the aquarium to see a seal show. But the seal show is canceled and the kids discover that two of the seals have been drugged. It’s up to them to discover the person behind it.
The Legend of Diamond Lil: A J.J. Tully Mystery (J. J. Tully Mysteries) by Doreen Cronin, illustrated by Kevin Cornell
J.J. is a search-and-rescue dog who doesn’t like that his charges, a chicken and her chicks, want to spend time with the neighbor’s new dog, Diamond Lil. But soon, J.J. starts to like Diamond Lil just as much as the chicks. Then, when a possum tries to steal the chicks, it seems that Diamond Lil is involved. Who is behind the kidnapping attempt?
Thea Stilton’s The Secret of Whale Island by Geronimo StiltonMy kids love these entertaining mysteries with colorful fonts and exciting adventures. (I found the fonts distracting, personally.) Also, see the Geronimo Stilton graphic novels.
The Critter Club by Callie Berkley
The girls in the Critter Club love animals and want to help them any way they can. Sweet stories for beginning mystery readers!
Fancy Nancy: Nancy Clancy, Super Sleuth by Jane O’Connor
Fancy Nancy is now Nancy Clancy and ready for chapter books. She and Bree want to solve crimes and have their first case in their classroom. I love this new, grown-up Nancy.
The Whodunit Detective Agency The Diamond Mystery by Martin Widmark, illustrated by Helena Willis
Friends and kid detectives Jerry and Maya go undercover in a jewelry store to figure out which of the three employees is stealing diamonds from the owner. It’s puzzling since all the employees are searched before they can leave the store. How are the diamonds going missing, and who is taking them? This is a well-written detective book adventure with good pacing and enjoyable characters.
Rider Woofson: The Case of the Missing Tiger’s Eye by Walker Styles, illustrated by Ben Whitehouse (series)
Filled with lots of punny doggie words, this is a clever and fun easy chapter book about a group of detective dogs!
Smashie McPerter and the Mystery of Room 11 by N. Griffin, illustrated by Kate Hindley
Falsely accused of stealing the class 11 hamster, who she admittedly doesn’t like, third-grader Smashie decides to find the real thief and clear her name. She and her friend Dontel look for clues and try to put them together to solve the crime. Smashie is a well-written, relatable book on the easier side of middle-grade chapter books.
Sherlock Sam and the Ghostly Moans in Fort Canning by A.J. Low
Set in Singapore, Sherlock Sam and his friends use their brains to solve mysteries. In this case, they’re determined to discover the cause of the ghostly sounds from an abandoned military fort. Could it be a ghost? Their adventures are funny and exciting, this is a well-written chapter book in a new series.
Sherlock Academy by F.C. Shaw
I enjoyed this book very much! It’s about a boy, Rollie, and his friend, Cecily, who receive a mysterious and exclusive invitation to attend a school for budding detectives. Of course, there’s a mystery afoot and Rollie and Cecily are determined to get to the bottom of the mystery.
Friday Barnes: Girl Detective by R.A. Spratt, illustrated by Phil Gosier
Friday thinks like Sherlock Holmes in the sense that she’s brilliant and observes her surroundings to draw conclusions. She’s a neglected 5th child who sends herself to boarding school where she actually (and surprisingly to her) makes friends and solves mysteries. I can not wait for the next book!! This is going to be another fantastic series by the talented R.A. Spratt with its crisp plotting and characters with big personalities.
Max Finder Mystery Vol. 7 by Craig Battle and Ramon Perez, created by Liam O’Donnell
Mystery fans and young detectives, you’re in for fun with this book! Each of the cases, told in comic form like in the Owl Magazine, develops the story and gives you clues. Then, see if you can figure out the answers. When you turn the page, the clues and answers are explained. How great for critical thinking, right!?
Me, Frida, and the Secret is the Peacock Ring by Angela Cervantes
Mystery and adventure collide with Mexican culture in this story about a girl named Paloma whose summer trip to Mexico, her deceased father’s homeland, becomes much more than a summer vacation. Her new Spanish tutor and his sister ask for Paloma’s help to find Frida Kahlo’s missing peacock ring. But they neglect to tell her their dad is in jail for the theft! I love that this mystery story is filled with information about Kahlo (my favorite artist) and has so much Mexican cultural richness, from mariachis to paletas.
Framed! A T.O.A.S.T. Mystery by James Ponti
Captivating from the first page, 12-year-old Florian Bates uses his brilliant, observing brain to implement T.O.A.S.T. (the Theory of All Small Things) to notice things that others have missed. Including the FBI when there’s an art heist at the museum where his mother works. The FBI hires him to help unravel a mysterious art heist which he does with the help of his best friend, Margaret. Fast-paced and interesting.
Nooks and Crannies by Jessica Lawson
Nooks and Crannies is an intriguing story about a young girl with horrible parents. Just before she’s about to be sent to an orphanage, she learns that she just might be a rich someone’s heir and have the chance to live happily ever after. Once at the Countess’s home, she must use her detective skills to figure out what is happening with the disappearing kids and scary Countess. My daughter’s book club loved this story.
Belly Up by Stuart Gibbs
Was the FunJungle’s hippo murdered? Teddy and Summer think so. Mystery, adventure, and humor will keep your readers on the edge of their seats in this unique story with quirky characters.
The Liar’s Society written by Alyson Gerber
Wetherby is a girl whose sailing skills land her a scholarship at the prestigious Boston School, the school her deceased father attended Boston School. But she gets in on a lie. At the school, Jack is a rich kid whose driven, perfectionist father owns everything, including an island. He and Weatherby get paired up in a sailing team. Both kids are invited to be part of a secret society, which turns out to be made up of other kids who’ve lied, cheated, and stolen, like Jack and Wetherby. Is it the school’s infamous secret society? Excellent pacing, a compelling story, and rising tension make this a page-turner filled with secrets, truths, and danger. A must-read!
Night Raven: The Moonwind Mysteries written by Johan Rundberg, translated by A.A. Prime
An excellent, page-turning mystery set in 1880s Sweden about an orphan girl named Mika whose survival skills include an eye for detail, connections, and deductions! After an abandoned baby is dropped into her arms in the middle of the night, a police detective recruits her to assist him in identifying a dead body and then investigating a prison cell — all in pursuit of a copycat serial killer. But Mika realizes it’s not a copycat. In a dangerous game of cat and mouse, she and the detective need to avoid the corrupt prison officials and the serial killer. This observant heroine is my favorite kind — resourceful, aspirational, and interesting. I can’t wait for more books in the series. (Sensitive readers: Includes the word cr*p.)
Minerva Keen’s Detective Club by James Patterson and Keir Graff
Has there ever been an exciting kid-appropriate murder mystery? Not often, that’s for sure! In this murder mystery story, amateur detective Minerva finds one person after another who has been poisoned! She is intent on helping the police detective solve the case, so she, her brother Heck, and her new school friend Santos investigate every possibility. It’s fast-paced, interesting, and engaging.
Escape from Mr. Lemoncello’s Library by Chris Grabenstein
Kyle and a few classmates win a sleepover at the town’s newly created library by game creator Mr. Lemoncello. The silly Mr. Lemoncello devises a fun way to get OUT of the library — you can only get out if you solve the puzzles around the entire library. Will the kids work together, or will it be every child for himself? (Next in the series: Mr. Lemoncello’s Library Olympics.)
The Curious Vanishing of Beatrice Willoughby by G.Z. Schmidt
Thirteen years after the mayor’s daughter disappeared from a party, the guests are invited back to the mansion for another All Hallows Eve party. One of the guests at this party is the kidnapper. The other guests will need to figure out the clues and solve the mystery to free the mansion’s owner from prison…and find the girl. A brilliant boy and his storytelling father stumble upon the party whose attendees follow clues, listen to the storyteller’s related sinister fairy tales, and forget about two of the party’s guests. With storytelling, magic, and deduction, this is a zippy, fascinating book that weaves the Grimm characters into a mystery readers will hope to solve before the boy does!
Connect the Dots by Keith Calabrese
Middle school is even weirder when a girl named Matilda arrives. She starts hanging out with Oliver and his friend, soon noticing that suspicious men in SUVs are following Oliver everywhere. The friends realize there’s something suspicious with Oliver’s mom’s new job and boyfriend and that the bad guys are searching for a reclusive, antisocial genius, Preston Oglethorpe, who went to high school with Oliver’s mom. It’s a puzzling, entertaining mystery with a heartwarming message of human connection!
The Frame-Up by Wendy McLeod MacKnight, illustrated by Ian Schoenherr
Celebrating artwork, this magical realism mystery book reveals that paintings are alive. The Beaverbrook Gallery paintings have strict rules to prevent humans from discovering this truth. But Mona Dunn doesn’t always follow the rules, and she befriends the curator’s son named Sargent who is visiting his estranged father for the summer. Meanwhile, she and the other paintings wonder if the creepy art restorer is an art forger because something is suspicious. It’s an excellent, page-turning mystery with important themes about family, forgiveness, and friendship.
Explorer Academy: The Nebula Secret by Trudi Trueit
This is National Geographic’s first fictional book series with full-color illustrations that hits the spot with an exciting mix of science, technology, adventure, and mystery. Newly accepted into the prestigious Explorer Academy for science and exploration, Cruz realizes that someone is trying to kill him; someone who doesn’t want him finding out about his mother’s mysterious research and untimely death. Tons of cool tech, amazing friendships, plot twists, plus an intriguing premise make this entire series a must-read hit.
Winterhouse by Ben Guterson, illustrated by Chloe Bristol
Elizabeth, an orphan, is unexpectedly sent to a large, stately hotel with a kind, grandfatherly proprietor for Christmas vacation. There, she discovers a magical book, a sinister couple, a family mystery, and a new friend who loves puzzles as much as she does. The writing is mesmerizing, the mystery is fascinating, and the characters are enchanting.
Lockwood and Co. by Jonathan Stroud
Dangerous ghosts and spirits are appearing everywhere in London but only certain kids can see them and eradicate them. Teens Lucy, Anthony, and George badly need money for their ghost-hunting agency, Lockwood & Co., so they take a perilous job that, if the ghosts have their way, may just be their last.
The Pear Affair by Judith Eagle, illustrated by Jo Rioux
Nell can’t wait to tag along with her horrid and neglectful parents to Paris so she can search for her beloved former nanny Pear who she’s convinced is missing since Pear hasn’t written in months. While in Paris, Nell learns about the strange moldy bread problem plaguing the city’s bakeries. She meets new friends who guide her around the underground tunnels of Paris. They help her find Nell and uncover the truth about her parents and their connection to the moldy bread. A page-turning mystery novel for kids with a perfect ending!
Winterbone Home for Vengence and Valor by Ally Carter
April is a foster kid invited to live at a fancy mansion with other orphans. There. she notices the same symbol that is on the key her mom left her. Could the key belong to this house? Then she discovers the home’s long-lost missing heir lurking around the shadows and hiding in a secret part of the house. When she and her friends realize this new home is about to be acquired by a nefarious man, they are determined to solve the mystery of the heir, the key, and the house. If you like exciting, heartwarming mysteries, you’ll love this story.
The Extraordinary Education of Nicholas Benedict by Diana Sudyka
9-year-old Nicholas Benedict, a genius orphan with narcolepsy, lives in a poorly run orphanage where he’s maltreated and bullied. In this popular middle grade prequel to the series, Nicholas discovers there’s a treasure somewhere in the orphanage. While he and his friend search, he finds a way to improve life for all the kids living there. (There is also a television show adaptation of this book.)
Digging Up Danger by Jaqueline West, illustrated by Hatem Aly
Read the mystery story that also teaches you specific writing techniques about writing a mystery story. The plot is about a ghost-loving girl named Eliza whose mom is a strange plant expert. They’ve moved to a mysterious plant shop where something very creepy is happening! While you read, you’re prompted to flip to the back to learn about writing a spooky setting, using figurative language, creating a culprit, creating clues, and much more.
Absolutely Truly Pumpkin Falls Mystery by Heather Vogel Frederick
Truly and her family now live in her father’s small hometown after her father, a soldier, returns from Afghanistan a changed man. Truly helps her father and his sister in the family bookstore, where she finds a valuable first edition of Charlotte’s Web, which leads her on a mysterious treasure hunt. I loved how the journey for clues develops simultaneously as Truly finds friends and her place in the town!
Jada Sly, Artist & Spy by Sherri Winston
I liked this well-plotted mystery and think your readers will, too– the writing is great and the story is engaging. Jada has recently moved from France back to New York City after her Mama’s plane crashed 6 months before. But Jada still thinks her mom’s alive, which makes her father think that Jada is not accepting reality. What her father doesn’t know is there’s been a man following Jada and she has actually seen her mom. She thinks. What is going on?
Nick and Tesla’s High-Voltage Danger Lab by Science Bob Pflugfleder and Steve Hockensmith
Siblings Nick and Tesla are shipped off to live with their mad-scientist Uncle Newt for the summer while their parents are . . . doing something with soybeans in Uzbekistan. When left to fend for themselves, they discover something very suspicious happening at the old mansion down the street, more than just losing their rocket in that yard. Fun and adventurous!
39 Clues by various authors (series)
This series has about a billion books, so if your kids like it, they’ll have plenty to read. When two orphan siblings named Amy and Dan are told in their grandma’s will that they belong to the very famous and powerful Cahill family which has several different branches, it’s revealed that they and the other decedents will either get 1 million dollars or a clue. The kids pick the clue and race around the world, trying to discover all the clues to reveal the family’s biggest secret of all — the source of their power.
Kazu Jones and the Denver Dognappers by Shauna M. Holyoak
Kazuko is a likable, smart, and determined main character who loves investigating mysteries despite her mother’s rules. When dogs in her neighborhood go missing, Kazu and her best friend, March plus two more kids team up to find clues and follow leads. Things get dangerous when the police don’t believe them and they discover the warehouse where the dogs are being taken. I love this fast-paced mystery!
The Wollstonecraft Detective Agency The Case of the Missing Moonstone by Jordan Stratford, illustrated by Kelly Murphy
I LOVE this fantastically developed historical fiction story for several reasons — the girl-centric history is really interesting (and empowering), the characters are very well-developed, and the plot is a grand adventure! The author imagines a friendship between Ada Byron, the genius daughter of Lord Byron and the world’s first computer programmer, and Mary Shelley, the world’s first science-fiction author who almost could have been friends in real life but for about a decade of years.
The Secret Starling by Judith Eagle, illustrated by Jo Rioux
Readers, don’t miss this heartwarming mystery about a lonely orphan girl whose unfeeling uncle abandons her. She sneaks back to her uncle’s dilapidated manor house, where she meets a new friend named Peter. Together, they take care of themselves and play with new village friends. Then, they discover a ballet show that leads them to uncover the true story of Clara’s mom, a rising ballet star who died mysteriously. As the friends explore, more than one sinister plot is uncovered — and all the family secrets are revealed.
The Multiplying Mysteries of Mount Ten by Krista Van Dolzer
Not only did I love this fun-filled adventure, but I also enjoyed that it showed the fun of problem-solving math puzzles. When Esther and her stepdad accidentally arrive at math camp, not art camp, they’re forced to stay due to a major storm. Then both her roommate and stepdad go missing and she receives clues about mythological monsters, one of whom might be a murderer. Delightful!
The Amelia Six by Kristin L. Gray
Six standout girls are invited to the historic childhood home of Amelia Earhart to spend the night. Their sleepover turns into a mystery when famous valuable goggles disappear. As the girls search, they form a bond that helps them navigate the clues, a poisoning, and getting locked in the basement. The story is interesting enough to keep reading with fascinating Amelia Earhart trivia.
Sherlock, Lupin & Me: The Dark Lady by Irene Adler
I love this mystery story — so does my 11-year-old! The setting is the late 1800s in France. The heroes? Three best friends, one of whom just happens to be Sherlock Holmes. Only in this story, he’s a young boy. You’ll fall in love with the spunky, Irene Adler, our author, and junior detective, as she and her best friends seek to solve the small beach town’s greatest mystery.
Shirley and Jamila Save Their Summer by Gillian Goerz
Perfect for anyone who loves a good graphic novel mystery story. Unlikely friends, Jamily and Shirley (Bones) join forces so they’ll be able to do what they want over the summer. Bones is observant and smart and while Jamila plays basketball, kids come to Bones with their mysteries. Jamila wants to be part of Bones’ crime-solving and together, they investigate a stolen gecko at the swimming pool, finding that misunderstanding and jealousy can turn into understanding and friendship.
Ali Cross by James Patterson
If you want an enthralling adventure & mystery that you can’t put down, read this one next. It’s Christmas Eve…Ali’s friend Gabe is missing, his FBI agent dad is falsely accused of murdering an old man, and someone broke into their house while they were at church and stole his dad’s service weapon. Ali knows he has to try to fix things, starting by finding his friend Gabe. Don’t miss the second book in the series, Like Father, Like Son.
Minerva Mint The Order of the Owls by Elisa Puricelli Guerra
Minerva lives in a huge but run-down mansion (that she owns) with her guardian, a quirky artist who found her abandoned at a train station (with the house deed.) Every year, her guardian puts an ad in the papers to find her real parents. And, every year, imposters answer the ad. This year is no different for imposters but this year, Minerva has two friends her own age. Minerva and her friends not only run off the imposters but discover answers about Minerva’s past.
The Secret Files of Fairday Morrow by Jessica Haight
Fairday’s parents move from the city to the country to a mysterious Victorian house and the only reason she hasn’t died of boredom is she’s found a mystery for her and her best friend, Lizzy, who are in their own detective club. Lizzy and Fairday discover an old diary, a picture, and other clues that lead them to discover an alternative universe where the house hasn’t aged.
Mystery of the Radcliffe Riddle by Tarum Spiders
Grady’s dad hasn’t been the same since his mom died, and now the bank is foreclosing on their house. He’s missing his dead mom and distant dad. When they inherit a sampler (needlework) from an old lady and distant relative, Grady and his friends are convinced it’s a treasure map that can save their home. As they follow clues all over town, someone else is, too; someone who wants that sampler so much they’re willing to rob and kill for it. Will the friends find the treasure before the sinister person hurts them? And what is this mysterious treasure anyway?
Gladiator School Book 1 Blood Oath by Dan Scott
This is already a six-book fun historical fiction adventure (and mystery) about a young boy named Lucius whose father is accused of a crime. When the family loses everything, the oldest brother decides to be a gladiator — which is equivalent to slave status and a good way to die young. You’ll learn a lot of Roman history, too.
The Girl with the Glass Bird by Esme Kerr
A lonely orphan named Edie is forced to leave her only known relative and live at a strict boarding school in order to surreptitiously protect Anastasia, the Russian prince’s daughter. While she’s at it, she’s also supposed to discover what is behind Anastasia’s problems. Edie thinks there’s something fishy going on; that someone is trying to make Anastasia believe she’s going crazy. This is an engrossing mystery book tangled with compelling characters and emotional resonance.
The Case That Time Forgot (Sherlock Files Series) by Tracy Barrett
Twin detectives, Xander and Xena, are direct descendants of Sherlock Holmes. In this story, they must locate the famous amulet of Throth that is rumored to turn back time. It’s an interesting mystery series.
The Case of the Left-Handed Lady: An Enola Holmes Mystery (series) by Nancy Springer
This Sherlock series follows the detective adventures of Sherlock’s sister, Enola who I don’t think is the real name of his sister. But I love how Enola is an independent, smart detective in her own right. Delightful!
Warren the 13th and The All-Seeing Eye: A Novel by Tania Del Rio, illustrated by Will Staehle
A quirky mystery book! Warren has inherited his family’s hotel, but since he’s still a child, his no-good uncle is in charge. This means that Warren is the bellhop, valet, groundskeeper, and errand boy for very few hotel guests in the once-popular hotel. His uncle’s new wife and her witch sisters are up to something. Warren needs allies and ideas about where to search so he can discover the treasure first and save his family’s hotel.
The Fairytale Detectives (The Sisters Grimm) by Michael Buckley
Sabrina and Daphne move in with their Grandmother Grimm and learn that they and their grandmother are fairy tale detectives for the town, filled with fairy tale people called Everafters. You’ll see meet a LOT of fairy tale characters in this magical town. The Sisters Grimm chapter book series is suspenseful with lots of secrets, magic, mystery, and adventure.
Eddie Red Undercover Mystery in Mayan Mexico by Marcia Wells
Eddie, his best friend Jonah, and his parents are on vacation in Mexico. When Eddie’s dad becomes the primary suspect in the theft of a stolen Mayan mask so, Eddie and Jonah decide to solve the mystery themselves. Only they don’t speak Spanish all that well, and there’s more to this mystery than just a stolen mask. You’ll love the Spanish words throughout, the well-paced action, and the characters.
Manhunt by Kate Messner
At midnight worldwide, works of art vanish from houses and museums. Anna, Henry, and Jose are kids of parents in the Silver Jaguar Society, a society that protects priceless works of art, go to Paris to guard the Mona Lisa. But there’s someone in the society who is feeding information to the art thieves. And it’s up to the kids to figure it out.
Isabel Feeney, Star Reporter by Beth Fantasy
In Chicago, 10-year-old Isabel sells the newspaper, and she wants to be a writer during the days of speak-easies and the Mob. When one of her customers is accused of murder, Isabel decides to investigate and prove the woman’s innocence. She meets the famous woman reporter, Maude Collier, and two new friends who all are important to solving the case. This historical mystery chapter book grabbed my attention from the first page with memorable characters and an interesting plot.
Skulduggery Pleasant by Derek Landy
Skulduggery is a skeleton, but he’s also a detective who solves crimes in the magical world. Stephanie insists on becoming his new sidekick. She picks a new name, Valkyrie, and becomes invaluable to Skulduggery as they both fight to save the world from evil. I think your kids will enjoy these fun-to-read, action, and mystery books with fantastic characters and storylines as much as I did.
Neil Flambe and the Marco Polo Murders by Kevin Sylvester
Arrogant yet endearing, 14-year-old chef Neil Flambe is known for his keen powers of smell – especially by the police detectives who need Neil’s help with a series of mysterious murders of chefs in the area. The clues lead to something about a trip of Marco Polo and spices. It’s a delightful, aromatic mystery read!
Constable & Toop by Gareth P. Jones
In this ghost world, some ghosts work for the “Ghost Bureau” — a predictably stuffy governing agency that does nothing. Other ghosts haunt houses and can’t escape. Finally, other ghosts are rogues. Right now, the Black Rot is killing the haunted house ghosts. And they don’t reappear. So it’s up to a bumbling ghost named Mr. Lapsewood to find out how to stop it. Totally entertaining and very well-written.
The London Eye Mystery by Siobhan Dowd
This is a puzzling mystery that only the boy named Ted who seems to be autistic can solve. How did his cousin disappear from a closed pod on the London Eye? The enjoyable action and intrigue will keep your attention throughout — and you’ll wonder why you didn’t guess the ending before Ted.
Vampires on the Run: A Quinnie Boyd Mystery by C. M. Surrisi
Intriguing, suspenseful, and tons of fun! Readers want to believe the mysterious authors vacationing in the small town really could be vampires. The main characters have passion and curiosity and the plot races along with twists and turns. (This is part of a mystery chapter book series, but you can read it out of order.)
YA Mystery Books (Ages 13+)
Jackaby by William Ritter
This YA mystery chapter book features an independent teen girl and an unusual Sherlock Holmes-type boy who solve crimes in historical New England in 1892. It hooks you from the first page.
Also Known As by Robin Benway
Imagine your parents are spies, and you are, too — this is the life of Maggie Silver, a teenager and expert safecracker. Maggie gets to attend regular high school in New York City in order to befriend the son of a writer who is about to expose their spy network. She’s conflicted about lying to this boy and her new friend because they are her first real friends — and when she faces failure to complete the mission, she decides to tell them the truth. She is a spy. I loved this story and the characters and highly recommend it. (Parents, it’s a mild YA romance, but her friend gets drunk and shares a brief story about having sex.)
The Agency 3: The Traitor in the Tunnel by Y.S. Lee
This third book in the stellar Mary Quinn mystery series is a delightful story. The premise is an orphan, Mary, is recruited by a clandestine detective agency of women, an agency that is very successful because no one would suspect women to be spies. Mary goes undercover in Queen Victoria’s palace while facing other issues – one of a love interest and one that her long-lost father isn’t so long lost after all.