Everyone loves a good mystery. Our storytelling minds automatically try to piece together the clues and figure out what happened, even in our ordinary, day-to-day lives. The thrill of the chase, the suspense of waiting, and the satisfaction of figuring out whodunit all make these stories crowd favorites. To hone your detective skills and solve some mysteries, check out the list of books below!
To find more books where you can play detective alongside the characters, try searching the catalog using a combination of subject terms like “juvenile fiction” for fiction books or “juvenile literature” for nonfiction books along with “mystery and detective stories,” “criminal investigation,” “spies,” or “detectives.”
Barnes, Jennifer Lynn.
The Naturals (The Naturals #1). 2013. (Fiction: chapter book – young adult)
When you put together a group of teenagers with unusual gifts, what do you get? Like a YA Criminal Minds, the FBI has just started a classified program where teenagers with special skills work to solve cold cases. Cassie is naturally good at reading people and figuring out their intentions, but in this group of geniuses she’s not the only one trying to hide the secrets of her past. When a new killer is on the loose, Cassie and the other Naturals have their skills put to the test. Readers won’t be able to put this book down.
(Also look for Killer Instinct #2 S. B262k, All In #3 S. B262a, and Bad Blood #4 S. B262b – all found in the S-Collection!)
[Center for Children’s Books S. B262n]
Beil, Michael D.
A New Recruit (Agents of the Glass #1). 2016. (Fiction: chapter book – middle grades)
When Andy does a good deed by turning in the money he found after a bank robbery, he doesn’t want it to be a big deal. However, the Agents of the Glass hear about it and recruit Andy to work with them in the fight against a company called NTRP. As a new 12-year-old agent, Andy doesn’t know who to trust anymore, and it’s a race against time to make sure that good wins over evil. Readers will definitely speed through this fast-paced adventure to see if Andy succeeds in his mission and will eagerly await the sequel.
[S-Collection S. B3965n]
Ace Lacewing, Bug Detective (Ace Lacewing #1). 2005. (Fiction: picture book)
In a traditional private eye narration, we follow ace detective Ace Lacewing as he investigates the kidnapping of Queenie Bee. Is there more going on than meets the eye? Along with Doctor Xerces Blue and Sergeant Zito, Ace is on the case to find the missing owner of the Hive Rise Honey Company. Full of bug jokes, suspense, and playful images, kids will enjoy solving the mystery with Ace Lacewing, Bug Detective.
(Also look for Bad Bugs Are My Business #2 SE. B475ac and The Big Swat #3 SE. B475ace – found in the S-Collection!)
[S-Collection SE. B475a]
I’d Tell You I Love You, But Then I’d Have to Kill You (Gallagher Girls #1). 2006. (Fiction: chapter book – middle grades)
Cammie Morgan is the daughter of the headmistress at the Gallagher Academy for Exceptional Young Women, so she’s used to fading into the background. Literally. The Gallagher Academy is actually an elite school for spies, and Cammie and her friends Bex and Liz are training for top secret missions. But when Cammie falls for a normal boy, she’s lost. She can hack his computer and track him through town, but she doesn’t know if she can have a real relationship with someone who can never know who she really is. The start of a 6 book series, this is a lighthearted introduction about friendship, espionage, and identity that becomes multi-layered and more profound with each installment.
Also be sure to check out the author’s Heist Society series about a group of teenage thieves! (S-Collection S. C2452h)
(Also look for Cross My Heart and Hope to Spy #2 S. C2452c, Don’t Judge a Girl by Her Cover #3 S. C2452d, Only the Good Spy Young #4, Out of Sight, Out of Time #5 S. C2452o, and United We Spy #6 S. C2452un – in the S-Collection!)
[S-Collection S. C2452i]
A Study in Charlotte (Charlotte Holmes #1). 2016. (Fiction: chapter book – young adult)
Jamie Watson does not want to be playing rugby at prep school Sherringford far away from his London home in Connecticut, partly because his dad, who he hasn’t seen since he was 10, is nearby, and partly because Charlotte Holmes is there. Take one descendant from Dr. Watson and the descendant from the famous Sherlock Holmes and it should’ve been fate, but instead it seems like Jamie and Charlotte are destined to be enemies until a fellow student is murdered and they are both suspects. Now it’s up to Charlotte to clear their names. This YA mystery tribute is sure to thrill audiences and keep them on the edge of their seats.
(Also look for The Last of August #2 – Uni High Fiction Av13la)
[S-Collection S. C3141c1]
Framed! (A T.O.A.S.T. Mystery #1). 2016. (Fiction: chapter book – middle grades)
Twelve-year-old Florian Bates is an FBI agent, and in between doing his homework and being a normal kid, he developed his Theory of All Small Things (T.O.A.S.T.) to solve life’s little mysteries. When he shares his theory with his friend Margaret, they unknowingly stumble upon a big mystery involving the National Gallery and an infamous crime syndicate. With Florian as the charismatic narrator, readers will hone their detective skills and find themselves using T.O.A.S.T. as he and Margaret solve the mystery!
(Also look for Vanished! #2, found in the S-Collection S. P778v)
[Center for Children’s Books S. P778fr]
Ransom, Jeanie Franz.
What Really Happened to Humpty? (From the Files of a Hard-Boiled Detective). 2009. (Fiction: picture book)
Detective Joe Dumpty is Humpty Dumpty’s younger brother, and when Humpty mysteriously falls off the Wall, Joe thinks there is foul play and is determined to figure out what or who caused it. He goes around Mother Gooseland to interview familiar characters like Miss Muffet, the Three Little Pigs, Chicken Little, and others to see if they saw anything out of the ordinary storyline. With comic book style illustrations and a surprising culprit, this twist on traditional fairy tales is an entertaining mystery read.
[S-Collection Q. SE. R1741w]
Selznick, Brian and Serlin, David.
Baby Monkey, Private Eye. 2018. (Fiction: picture book, beginning reader, graphic novel)
Baby Monkey stars in this picture book/beginning reader/graphic novel. While hard to categorize what type of book this is, you do know what Baby Monkey is. He is a baby, and he is a monkey, but he is also a private investigator. With kid and adult humor sprinkled throughout, thoughtfully and artistically created illustrations, and mysteries to solve, this book is a winner for all ages.
[Center for Children’s Books S. Se492ba]
The Harlem Charade. 2017. (Fiction: chapter book – middles grades)
In Harlem, anything can happen. Jin watches the neighborhood from her family’s bodega, Alex tries to secretly help the needy, and Elvin survives on the streets after his grandfather is attacked. These three kids couldn’t be any more different, but when they come together to try to solve the mystery of the attack on Elvin’s grandfather, the trio discover a plot to take over their neighborhood for a theme park that some missing paintings just might prevent. Full of action and daring, Jin, Alex, and Elvin redefine community, art, and home in a compelling middle school read.
[S-Collection S. T176ha]
Van Steenwyk, Elizabeth.
How Kate Warne Saved President Lincoln: A Story about the Nation’s First Woman Detective. 2016. (Nonfiction: picture book)
A true story, this is the inspiring tale of how Kate Warne became a detective with the famous Pinkerton Agency. As a woman, she could go where men could not, and was skilled at getting people to trust and talk to her. When Abraham Lincoln was elected as president, there were rumors about preventing him from getting to Washington D.C. for the inauguration and it was up to Kate and other agents to make sure he got there safely. Gorgeously textured and colorful illustrations help tell the tale of the important role Kate Warne played back in 1860 and how she paved the road for women in a historically male dominated profession.
[S-Collection S.363.25092 V366h]