I love a mystery, don’t you?
Just between us, I always thought I’d be amazing at solving mysteries. I’m not so keen on the being in danger part, though, so I think I’ll stick to reading mysteries. That way I can solve all sorts of puzzles from the comfort and safety of my own room.
It’s even more fun when the “detective” is a kid, because who expects a kid to solve a mystery? We do! I followed the clues and found twenty middle grade mysteries featuring kid detectives.
I know there are many more out there, though. Which ones did I miss? Meet me over on my Instagram page and let me know.
1. Finally, Something Mysterious by Doug Cornett
I love books about friends and books about mysteries…so a book about a mystery solved by friends is pretty much perfect. Especially one that involves a giant flock of rubber duckies.
Amazon Description: Paul Marconi has always thought that Bellwood was a strange town, but also a boring one. Not much for an eleven-year-old to do. Fires are burning nearby, Paul’s parents are obsessed with winning a bratwurst contest, and his best friend, one of the founding members of their only-child detective club, the One and Onlys, is about to acquire a younger sister, sort of undoing their whole reason for existing. But then! Hundreds of rubber duckies have appeared on the lawn of poor Mr. Babbage without any explanation. Finally! There is something that Paul and his friends can actually investigate.
In the face of all these bizarre occurrences, Paul is convinced that uncovering who deposited the duckies will finally bring some sense to what has become an upside-down world. Soon the three friends have a long list of suspects, all with their own motives, but no clear culprit. When everything comes to a head at the town’s annual Bellwood Bratwurst Bonanza, Paul discovers that some things don’t have an easy explanation and not every mystery can be solved.
2. Midnight at the Barclay Hotel by Fleur Bradley
It’s one thing to solve mysteries for fun but another when you have to find a murderer to keep your mom out of jail. Bonus: this one has ghosts!
Amazon Description: When JJ Jacobson convinced his mom to accept a surprise invitation to an all-expenses-paid weekend getaway at the illustrious Barclay Hotel, he never imagined that he’d find himself in the midst of a murder mystery. He thought he was in for a run-of-the-mill weekend ghost hunting at the most haunted spot in town, but when he arrives at the Barclay Hotel and his mother is blamed for the hotel owner’s death, he realizes his weekend is going to be anything but ordinary.
Now, with the help of his new friends, Penny and Emma, JJ has to track down a killer, clear his mother’s name, and maybe even meet a ghost or two along the way.
3. Ava & Carol Detective Agency: The Mystery of the Pharaoh’s Diamonds by Thomas Lockhaven
Another friends-solving-mysteries story, because who wants to detect alone? Especially when you’re on the trail of ancient Egyptian diamonds. This is the first book of the series, but you can see all 9 books here.
Amazon description: It would seem the pharaohs of Egypt may not be resting very peacefully these days. International jewel smugglers have made off with the famous Ramesses diamonds from the Hancock Museum of Archeology! Precious stones themselves, these sparkly treasures are worth more than just money—they’re ancient history! So for a very special case it will take a very special crime team to hunt down these jewels and save the day. Ava and Carol are two best friends who know how to foil a crime spree, and nothing will get in their way when they discover what trickery is afoot.
It’s a race against time as Ava and Carol use quick-thinking and plenty of sass to outwit a band of thieves before the precious diamonds make their way out of the country and out of the lives of history lovers everywhere! Follow the clues and try your luck against a dastardly band of international criminals. Can you save the Ramesses diamonds before they become ancient history—again?
4. Hannah Saves the World: Book 1 by A.M. Luzzader
If you’re a fan of the Mermaid in Middle Grade series, you’ll enjoy this series by the same author. I love how the book sometimes talks directly to the reader. For extra fun, try reading it out loud—especially the alien language parts.
Amazon Description: Hannah’s got a funny feeling that it’s up to her to save the entire world, but before she can do so, she and her skeptical best friend Mia have to figure out what they’re saving the world from! As the girls’ detective work proceeds, they uncover a chain of clues that might unravel the children’s mystery of the vandalized town playground, but what about the massive space cruiser parked high in the stratosphere, and the aliens inside who are laying plans to invade Earth? Can a pair of middle-school detectives really save the world? Find out in this funny book for tweens!
5. Pirates on the Bay by Steven K. Smith
Arrrrrrr! Here be pirates . . . and treasure . . . and adventure! Wouldn’t you love to set sail on a quest to find buried treasure? That’s my kind of vacation.
Amazon description: Sam, Derek, and Caitlin head for a week’s vacation at Virginia Beach, where three hundred years ago, pirates sailed the waters off the Atlantic Coast. As the kids explore the beach, they find suspicious activity from the neighboring military base that points to the discovery of a historic shipwreck—maybe even lost pirate treasure!
When they meet a mysterious stranger named One-Eyed Jack, they’re captivated by the tale of Edward Teach, better known as the notorious pirate Blackbeard. Legend says he may have left valuable plunder buried in the nearby dunes before his final battle and violent death. Could the treasure still be out there, waiting to be discovered? When the clues lead them on a perilous trip across the Chesapeake Bay, danger lurks at every turn. Will they find a hidden bounty, or will competing treasure seekers, or even Blackbeard’s ghost, send them to a watery grave at the bottom of the sea?
6. From The Mixed-Up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler by E.L. Konigsburg
This book was named a “Time Best YA Book of All Time” this year and I totally get why. How can you resist kids who run away . . . to a museum? It’s an oldie but goodie—your mom or dad may have read it when they were kids (even your grands might remember it). Ask them!
Amazon Description: When Claudia decided to run away, she planned very carefully. She would be gone just long enough to teach her parents a lesson in Claudia appreciation. And she would go in comfort-she would live at the Metropolitan Museum of Art. She saved her money, and she invited her brother Jamie to go, mostly because be was a miser and would have money.
Claudia was a good organizer and Jamie bad some ideas, too; so the two took up residence at the museum right on schedule. But once the fun of settling in was over, Claudia had two unexpected problems: She felt just the same, and she wanted to feel different; and she found a statue at the Museum so beautiful she could not go home until she bad discovered its maker, a question that baffled the experts, too.
The former owner of the statue was Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler. Without her—well, without her, Claudia might never have found a way to go home.
7. The Parker Inheritance by Varian Johnson
Ooh, a letter in the attic is always a good start. I don’t think there are any mysteries hiding in my attic, but if I find one I hope I’d be as brave and smart as Candice and Brandon.
Amazon description: When Candice finds a letter in an old attic in Lambert, South Carolina, she isn’t sure she should read it. It’s addressed to her grandmother, who left the town in shame. But the letter describes a young woman. An injustice that happened decades ago. A mystery enfolding its writer. And the fortune that awaits the person who solves the puzzle.
So with the help of Brandon, the quiet boy across the street, she begins to decipher the clues. The challenge will lead them deep into Lambert’s history, full of ugly deeds, forgotten heroes, and one great love; and deeper into their own families, with their own unspoken secrets. Can they find the fortune and fulfill the letter’s promise before the answers slip into the past yet again?
8. The Case of the Missing Marquess: An Enola Holmes Mystery by Nancy Springer
Didn’t you just love the Enola Holmes movie on Netflix? Have you read the book yet? The story is not exactly the same…plus there are more books, so hopefully that means there will be more movies. Fingers crossed! If you’re a movie fan, check out 10 Great Books Turned Into Movies for Middle-Graders.
When Enola Holmes, sister to the detective Sherlock Holmes, discovers her mother has disappeared, she quickly embarks on a journey to London in search of her. But nothing can prepare her for what awaits. Because when she arrives, she finds herself involved in the kidnapping of a young marquess, fleeing murderous villains, and trying to elude her shrewd older brothers—all while attempting to piece together clues to her mother’s strange disappearance. Amid all the mayhem, will Enola be able to decode the necessary clues and find her mother?
9. The Fairy-Tale Detectives (The Sisters Grimm #1) by Michael Buckley
Can you imagine a world where fairy tales are really history books? This is such a fun series, no wonder it’s a New York Times bestseller. I love how you meet “familiar” characters in a not-so-familiar setting. For more fairy tale fun, see my list of 15 Fairy Tales for Middle Grade Readers.
Amazon description: Orphaned sisters Sabrina and Daphne are sent to live with their newly discovered grandmother, Relda Grimm, in the strange town of Ferryport Landing. The girls soon learn a family secret: that they are descendants of the famous Brothers Grimm, whose book of fairy tales is actually a history book.
When a terrorizing giant goes on a rampage through the town, it’s up to the Sisters Grimm to stop him and to solve the mystery of who set the giant loose in the first place. Was it Mayor Charming, formerly Prince Charming, who desperately wants his kingdom back? The Three Not-So-Little Pigs, the shifty town cops? Or one of the many other fairy-tale characters who seem to have it out for the Grimms?
10. A Dog-Friendly Town by Josephine Cameron
I bet my pups would love “America’s #1 Dog-Friendly Town” but the next best thing to going there is reading about it. Especially since we get to follow Epic and his siblings as they solve the mystery. I give this one two paws up.
Amazon description: Twelve-year-old Epic McDade isn’t ready for middle school. He’d rather help out at his family’s dog-friendly bed n’ breakfast all summer, or return to his alternative elementary school in the fall, where learning feels safe. But change comes in all shapes and fur colors. When Carmelito, California is named America’s #1 Dog-Friendly Town, all the top dogs and their owners pour into Epic’s sleepy seaside neighborhood for a week of celebration.
The McDades are in dog heaven with all the new business until a famous dog’s jewel-encrusted collar goes missing. Every guest is a suspect, and Epic will have to embrace new friends and new ideas to sniff out the culprit before the week is through.
11. Every Missing Piece by Melanie Conklin
If you’re looking for a fun, light read, check out some of the other titles on this list. Maddy’s story deals with some heavy topics, like grief, anxiety and abuse. That said, it’s an amazing story with hope and even humor.
Amazon Description: Maddy Gaines sees danger everywhere she looks: at the bus stop, around the roller rink, in the woods, and (especially) by the ocean. When Maddy meets a mysterious boy setting booby traps in the North Carolina woods, she suspects is Billy Holcomb—the boy who went missing in the fall.
As Maddy tries to uncover the truth about Billy Holcomb, ghosts from her own past surface, her best friend starts to slip away, and Maddy’s world tilts once again. Can she put the pieces of her life back together, even if some of them are lost forever?
12. The Case of the Burgled Bundle by Michael Hutchinson
One of the best things about reading is how it takes you into other peoples’ worlds. This time we get to be part of the “Mighty Muskrats” and the world of First Nations people.
Amazon Description: The National Assembly of Cree Peoples has gathered together in the Windy Lake First Nation, home to the Mighty Muskrats―cousins Chickadee, Atim, Otter, and Sam. But when the treaty bundle, the center of a four-day-long ceremony, is taken, the four mystery-solving cousins set out to catch those responsible and help protect Windy Lake’s reputation! What’s worse, prime suspect Pearl takes off to the city with her older brother and known troublemaker, Eddie. If they have the burgled bundle with them, the Mighty Muskrats fear it may be lost for good.
With clues pointing in too many different directions, the cousins need to find and return the missing bundle before the assembly comes to an end. The history and knowledge passed down to each generation through the bundle is at stake.
13. The Highland Falcon Thief by M.G. Leonard & Sam Sedgman
Who wouldn’t want to ride on a royal train? Hal, that’s who. Even if—like Hal—you don’t care about trains, you’ll enjoy the mystery he uncovers and the journey to the solution.
Amazon Description: When eleven-year-old Harrison “Hal” Beck is forced to accompany his travel-writer uncle on the last journey of a royal train, he expects a boring trip spent away from video games and children his age.
But then Hal spots a girl who should not be on board, and he quickly makes friends with the stowaway, Lenny. Things get even more interesting when the royal prince and princess board for the last leg of the journey—because the princess’s diamond necklace is soon stolen and replaced with a fake! Suspicion falls on the one person who isn’t supposed to be there: Lenny.
It’s up to Hal, his keen observation, and his skill as a budding sketch artist to uncover the real jewel thief, clear his friend’s name, and return the diamond necklace before The Highland Falcon makes its last stop.
14. Chirp by Kate Messner
There are so many layers to this story: family, friendship, secrets and finding your voice. And who know that a cricket farm was a thing?
Amazon Description: When Mia moves to Vermont the summer after seventh grade, she’s recovering from the broken arm she got falling off a balance beam. And packed away in the moving boxes under her clothes and gymnastics trophies is a secret she’d rather forget.
Mia’s change in scenery brings day camp, new friends, and time with her beloved grandmother. But Gram is convinced someone is trying to destroy her cricket farm. Is it sabotage or is Gram’s thinking impaired from the stroke she suffered months ago? Mia and her friends set out to investigate, but can they uncover the truth in time to save Gram’s farm? And will that discovery empower Mia to confront the secret she’s been hiding—and find the courage she never knew she had?
15. Aggie Morton, Mystery Queen: The Body under the Piano by Marthe Jocelyn
Harriet Hamsterbone is not your typical princess. She may be quite stunning in the rodent realm (you’ll have to trust her on this one), but she is not so great at trailing around the palace looking
Have you heard of the famous mystery author Agatha Christie? This fun story imagines what she would have been like as a kid—and met her fictional detective (also a kid)—and they had to solve a mystery. If you like Enola Holmes you should definitely meet Aggie Morton.
Amazon Description: Aggie Morton lives in a small town on the coast of England in 1902. Adventurous and imaginative but deeply shy, Aggie hasn’t got much to do since the death of her beloved father . . . until the fateful day when she crosses paths with twelve-year-old Belgian immigrant Hector Perot and discovers a dead body on the floor of the Mermaid Dance Room! As the number of suspects grows and the murder threatens to tear the town apart, Aggie and her new friend will need every tool at their disposal — including their insatiable curiosity, deductive skills and not a little help from their friends — to solve the case before Aggie’s beloved dance instructor is charged with a crime Aggie is sure she didn’t commit.
16. One Came Home by Amy Timberlake
I love Georgie, the main character in this book. She has grit and determination and refuses to give up. It’s a great ‘growing up’ story in an interesting time and place.
Amazon Description: In the town of Placid, Wisconsin, in 1871, Georgie Burkhardt is known for two things: her uncanny aim with a rifle and her habit of speaking her mind plainly. But when Georgie blurts out something she shouldn’t, her older sister Agatha flees, running off with a pack of “pigeoners” trailing the passenger pigeon migration. And when the sheriff returns to town with an unidentifiable body—wearing Agatha’s blue-green ball gown—everyone assumes the worst. Except Georgie.
Refusing to believe the facts that are laid down (and coffined) before her, Georgie sets out on a journey to find her sister. She will track every last clue and shred of evidence to bring Agatha home. Yet even with resolute determination and her trusty Springfield single-shot, Georgie is not prepared for what she faces on the western frontier.
17. The Sweetest Heist in History by Octavia Spencer
First of all: Ninja detectives! Second: New York City. Third: Fun Ninja Tasks at the back of the book. What’s not to like? And yes, the author is the same Octavia Spencer who’s an Academy Award-winning actress.
Amazon Description: Randi Rhodes and her fellow ninja detectives, DC and Pudge, were flying high after solving the Case of the Time-Capsule Bandit. But life in sleepy Deer Creek has begun to feel…a bit boring. There are no crimes to investigate!
But a trip to New York City to visit Randi’s aunt changes that! While the ninja detective trio explores Randi’s old neighborhood in Brooklyn, they uncover an art theft. Except no one will believe them. So they’ll just have to catch the criminals in the act…
18. Goldie Vance. Vol. 3 by Hope Larson
I love a book with a main character who’s spunky and smart. Plus the plot has plenty of twists and turns, and I don’t just mean on the racetrack.
Amazon Description: Catch up with the coolest new girl detective on the block, Goldie Vance.
Sixteen-year-old Marigold “Goldie” Vance has an insatiable curiosity with dreams of one day becoming a detective. Luckily, she lives at a Florida resort with her dad, who manages the place, and with a rotating roster of guests and events, there’s bound to be some mystery afoot! With the Prescription One race in town, Goldie and her biggest rival, Sugar Maple, find themselves in an unlikely alliance to find who is sabotaging the drivers before the big event.
19. Thirteens by Kate Alice Marshall
There are “regular” mysteries . . . and then there are spooky mysteries. This new book, just published in August, is a spooky one. It’s described as “Coraline meets Stranger Things” so you know you’re in for some good creepy fun.
Amazon Description: Eleanor has just moved to the quiet, prosperous Eden Eld. When she awakes to discover an ancient grandfather clock that she’s never seen before outside her new room, she’s sure her eyes must be playing tricks on her. But then she spots a large bird, staring at her as she boards the school bus. And a black dog with glowing red eyes follows her around town. All she wants is to be normal, and these are far from normal. And worse–no one else can see them.
Except for her new friends, Pip and Otto, who teach her a thing or two about surviving in Eden Eld. First: Don’t let the “wrong things” know you can see them. Second: Don’t speak of the wrong things to anyone else.
The only other clue they have about these supernatural disturbances is a book of fairytales unlike any they’ve read before. It tells tales of the mysterious Mr. January, who struck a cursed deal with the town’s founders. Every thirteenth Halloween, he will take three of their children, who are never heard from again. It’s up to our trio to break the curse–because Eden Eld’s thirteen years are up. And Eleanor, Pip, and Otto are marked as his next sacrifice.
20. The Many Mysteries of the Finkel Family by Sarah Kapit
It makes me so happy when I find a book with main characters who learn differently. (If you do, too, check out 10 Books with Main Characters Who Learn Differently.) I also enjoy the relationship between the sisters and what they learn about each other.
Amazon Description: Fans of the Penderwicks and the Vanderbeekers, meet the Finkel family in this middle grade novel about two autistic sisters, their detective agency, and life’s most consequential mysteries.
When twelve-year-old Lara Finkel starts her very own detective agency, FIASCCO (Finkel Investigation Agency Solving Consequential Crimes Only), she does not want her sister, Caroline, involved. She and Caroline don’t have to do everything together. But Caroline won’t give up, and when she brings Lara the firm’s first mystery, Lara relents, and the questions start piling up.
But Lara and Caroline’s truce doesn’t last for long. Caroline normally uses her tablet to talk, but now she’s busily texting a new friend. Lara can’t figure out what the two of them are up to, but it can’t be good. And Caroline doesn’t like Lara’s snooping—she’s supposed to be solving other people’s crimes, not spying on Caroline! As FIASCCO and the Finkel family mysteries spin out of control, can Caroline and Lara find a way to be friends again?
Do you try to solve the mystery before the end of the book or do you get so involved in the story that you just watch it unfold along with the detective? Stop by my Instagram page and let’s talk about it.