Calling all mystery lovers!
Mystery book list for all ages! Whether or not you’re planning to see Murder on the Orient Express this month, you likely have a mystery fan in the house. What can they read when they’ve exhausted the library’s stash of Boxcar Children, Trixie Belden, Nancy Drew, and Hardy Boys?
We’re putting these lists in one post because, honestly, “reading level” lines get very fuzzy with mysteries. Age ranges are only a suggestion. Voracious readers will likely read up; slower readers may want to ponder an easier title as they figure out clues.
Per usual, titles are linked to RR reviews where applicable; see below for a printable list. As always, we recommend reading reviews to determine appropriateness for your family!
The Elementary list targets elementary school-aged kids (~ages 6-10) who read independently, but aren’t quite ready for more complex fare. Most strong readers will age up easily into the Tween list, but do read reviews first if your child is on the younger side.
- *Encyclopedia Brown by Donald Sobol
- J. J. Tully: The Trouble with Chickens by Doreen Cronin
- McBroom Series by Sid Fleischman
- Nick and Tesla’s High-Voltage Danger Lab (series) by Bob Plugfelder and Steve Hocksmith.
- The Chicken Squad (series) by Doreen Cronin (even younger than the J.J. Tully books)
- The Great Cake Mystery: Precious Ramotswe’s First Case by Alexander McCall Smith (ages 6-10)
- The Invention of Hugo Cabret by Brian Selznik
The “Tween” list is geared to middle school kids (~ 10-14 age range) who enjoy the usual middle grades fare and have a wide range of interests (even if they’re older/younger). These titles are a bit more complex than those on the elementary list.
- Boys of Blur by N. D. Wilson
- If the Magic Fits by Susan Maupin Schmid
- From the Mixed-Up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler by e. l. konigsburg
- Kepler’s Dream by Juliet Bell
- *Somebody on This Bus is Going to Be Famous by J. B. Cheaney
- The Fourteen Fibs of Gregory K. by Greg Pincus
- *The Secret Keepers by Trenton Lee Stewart
- *The Westing Game by Ellen Raskin
- Woof by Spencer Quinn
- *A Pocketful of Murder by R.J. Anderson
- Absolutely Truly by Heather Vogel
- Howard Wallace, P.I. by Casey Lyell
- Incorrigible Children of Ashton Place by Maryrose Wood
- School Ship Tobermory by Alexander McCall Smith
- The Brixton Brothers by Mac Barnett
- The Candymakers by Wendy Mass (ages down well)
- *The Father Brown Reader by Chesterton and Nancy Carpentier Brown
- The Great Greene Heist by Valerian Johnson
- The Greenglass House by Kate Milford
- The Mysterious Benedict Society by Trenton Lee Stewart
- Three Times Lucky by Sheila Turnage
The “Teen” list is geared to kids ages 12 and up–and their parents!–who are fully hooked on the “mystery” genre, appreciate a certain level of sophistication in their reading, and won’t be bothered by occasional language or innuendo; many of the books on the teen list are actually adult novels, so look for them in your library’s adult mystery stacks rather than in the Teen or YA stacks.
*note: Some of the series listed below have the first-in-the-series identified. None of them “must” be read in order for the individual mysteries, but these authors do a great job of developing their characters as the series progress. You might consider reading in order!
- Lois Lane series by Gwenda Bond (YA)
- Nobody’s Secret by Michaela McCall (YA)
- Steeplejack by A. J. Hartley (YA)
- The Disappearances by Emily Bain Murphy (YA)
- York: The Shadow Cipher by Laura Ruby (YA)
- A Morbid Taste for Bones (Brother Cadfael mysteries) by Ellis Peters (set in Medieval England) (Adult)
- Agatha Christie’s mysteries (Adult)
- Daughter of Time/Allen Grant series (and others) by Josephine Tey (Adult)
- Father Brown mysteries by G. K. Chesterton (Adult)
- Inspector Felse (series) by Ellis Peters (set in modern, postwar England) (Adult)
- Tales of Mystery and Imagination by Edgar Allen Poe (Adult)
- The 39 Steps by John Buchan (Adult)
- The Crocodile on the Sandbank (Amelia Peabody series) by Elizabeth Peters (set in archeological dig sites in Egypt) (Adult)
- The Hound of the Baskervilles and others by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle
- The Moonstone by Wilkie Collins (Adult; this is the official “first” mystery novel!)
- The No. 1 Ladies Detective Agency (series) by Alexander McCall Smith (Adult)
- The Red House by A. A. Milne (Adult); yes–the same author as Winnie-the-Pooh!
- To Say Nothing of the Dog by Connie Willis (Adult)
- The Scarlet Pimpernel by Baroness Von Orczy (Adult)
- Whose Body? (Lord Peter Wimsey series) by Dorothy Sayers (Adult)
OK, Mystery Lovers, which of your favorites did we miss? We love adding to our lists! Or, you can tell us which of these are already on your personal favorites list. Let us know in the comments!