10 Great Books About Kid Detectives

Chelsea Hensley

Staff Writer

After receiving her BA in English from the University of Missouri, Chelsea Hensley realized she had no idea what she was doing with her life. So she decided to call herself a writer and is just rolling with it. She's read Pride and Prejudice, and watched the Keira Knightley adaptation, so many times that she often gets them confused. In addition to reading and writing, she enjoys taking selfies, watching Netflix, and everything Beyonce does. Blog: The Chelsea Review Twitter: ChelseaBigBang

The Myrtle Hardcastle Series by Elizabeth C. Bunce.

Twelve-year-old Myrtle Hardcastle has a passion for justice and an obsession with criminal science. Armed with her father’s law books and her mum’s microscope, Myrtle studies toxicology, keeps abreast of the latest developments in crime scene analysis, and observes her neighbors in the quiet village of Swinburne, England. When her neighbor dies under Mysterious Circumstances, Myrtle seizes her chance. With her unflappable governess, Miss Ada Judson, by her side, Myrtle takes it upon herself to prove Miss Wodehouse was murdered and find the killer, even if nobody else believes her — not even her father, the town prosecutor.

I don’t know what it is about fall. The spooky stuff is a given, but this is also reading season. And I don’t know about you, but fall is my favorite time to cuddle up with some nice mysteries and see if I can figure out how all the dots connect. And when it comes to middle grade, there’s a great roster of sleuths to read about, and it’s growing all the time. Both the amateur and the official—didn’t we all want to be the incredible tween who was tapped to help official agencies solve crimes? Read on for some great middle grade mystery books about kid detectives.

Pepper’s Rules for Secret Sleuthing by Briana McDonald

For those of you who love a good, quirky amateur sleuth, look no further than Pepper. After her last investigation squashed all hope of the girl she likes ever liking her back, Pepper’s decided to take a break from her sleuthing. But after her great aunt dies, she and her dad head to her giant mansion for the reading of the will, and Pepper’s immediately suspicious of her aunt Wendy. With her mom’s trusty Detective Rulebook in hand, Pepper and her new friend, a trans boy named Jacob, set out to discover whether foul play was involved in her great aunt’s death.

The Parker Inheritance by Varian Johnson

The Parker Inheritance by Varian Johnson

When Candice Miller finds an old letter addressed to her grandmother, she isn’t sure she should read it. Her grandma left her small town of Lambert years ago in shame, but the woman talked about in the letter is a different one altogether, and the letter talks about a horrible injustice that happened years ago. Candice’s grandma once tried to solve the letter’s mystery, too. She failed, but Candice—with the help of the boy from across the street—may not.

All the Greys on Greene Street by Laura Tucker

In 1980s New York, Olympia’s artist father suddenly goes missing. Left behind is only a note. Meanwhile, her dad’s business partner is acting weird, one of her friends isn’t acting much better, her mom can’t get out of bed, and there was a stranger outside. Olympia doesn’t know what’s going on, or where the missing piece of art someone keeps calling about is now, but she knows her dad is the answer to all her questions. If only she can find him.

The Case of the Missing Marquess by Nancy Springer

If you’ve caught the Netflix adaptation starring Millie Bobby Brown and Henry Cavill (or if you want to read the book before you do), now’s the perfect time to pick up this play on the Sherlock Holmes canon starring Sherlock’s little sister Enola. When Enola’s mother disappears, Enola sets off on adventure to find her, dodging murderous villains and her brothers.

Julieta and the Diamond Enigma by Luisana Duarte Armendáriz

Julieta’s excited to be traveling in Paris with her dad, an art handler collecting pieces for a new exhibit. But things go upside-down when Julieta and her dad walk in on a theft-in-progress: a priceless (and maybe cursed) diamond. Julieta’s attempt only makes things worse, and now her dad is being eyed as the culprit. But if Julieta can find the real thief, her dad will be proven innocent.

The Harlem Charade by Natasha Tarpley

This fun mystery follows three kids in Harlem trying to keep their neighborhood from being turned into an amusement park and end up stumbling into a huge mystery and political scandal. After Elvin’s grandfather is brutally attacked, no one knows who did it, but when Elvin teams up with two other kids, Jin and Alex, they find themselves on the hunt for a missing painting.

The Amelia Six by Kristin L. Gray

For fans of Amelia Earhart, this is the tale of a girl named Amelia (Millie for short) who’s invited to spend the night at the famous pilot’s childhood home with five other girls. At the house, Amelia Earhart’s flight goggles are on display, but when they go missing, Millie was the last to see them! The girls were expecting a fun sleepover with games and treats and end up instead in a house full of suspects, a blizzard outside, and people falling strangely ill.

The Unexplainable Disappearance of Mars Patel by Sheela Chari

Sci-fi and mystery collide in this fun mystery based on a Peabody Award–winning podcast of the same name. Mars Patel’s friend has disappeared, so he and his equally smart friends team up to find her. All the clues point to an eccentric techie whose podcast now seems to be commenting on their investigation.

Me, Frida, and the Secret of the Peacock Ring by Angela Cervantes

While traveling to Mexico City for the first time, Paloma meets siblings Lizzie and Gael and is pulled into a hunt for a ring that once belonged to famed Mexican artist Frida Kahlo. Finding the ring would mean a huge reward and the thanks of all of Mexico. But it would also mean honoring Palamo’s father, who considered Kahlo to be his favorite artist, and who Paloma only had a short time to get to know. But Lizzie and Gael have a secret, and they may not want to return the ring at all.

Framed! by James Ponti

This funny mystery follows Florian Bates, who invented the TOAST (The Theory of All Small Things). TOAST has helped Florian solve all sorts of little mysteries. But after teaching it to a new friend, Florian stumbles across a huge mystery involving stolen paintings, the FBI, and an international crime syndicate.