Sherlock Holmework: 9 Great Recent Middle Grade Mysteries!

This content contains affiliate links. When you buy through these links, we may earn an affiliate commission.

Liberty Hardy

Senior Contributing Editor

Liberty Hardy is an unrepentant velocireader, writer, bitey mad lady, and tattoo canvas. Turn-ons include books, books and books. Her favorite exclamation is “Holy cats!” Liberty reads more than should be legal, sleeps very little, frequently writes on her belly with Sharpie markers, and when she dies, she’s leaving her body to library science. Until then, she lives with her three cats, Millay, Farrokh, and Zevon, in Maine. She is also right behind you. Just kidding! She’s too busy reading. Twitter: @MissLiberty

I love mysteries! It was my first favorite genre when I was little, and I read all the popular series. (Except the Bobbsey Twins, for reasons I don’t remember now.) There was something about seeing so many of a series on the shelf at the library that made me want to read them. As an adult, I read all kinds of genres. But mystery holds a place in my heart, and I read so many good ones, for all ages. Which is why I wanted to write this post about nine great recent middle grade mysteries.

If I were to whip my shirt off like Brandi Chastain, you would see “TURTLE WEXLER FOREVER” tattooed across my stomach (no, you wouldn’t). Because even though it’s a middle grade mystery, The Westing Game by Ellen Raskin remains my favorite mystery. I think middle grade mysteries are still the cat’s particulars. And here are a bunch more I have loved.

Please note: I am going to be including a few books that have recent wonderful additions to their series, so I will list the first book in the series so you know where to start. These are all really fun, sometimes speculative, sometimes a little scary (and one of them was a lot scary!). Let’s get started!

cover of The Swallowtail Legacy: Wreck at Ada’s Reef; image of children riding a bike by a house on an island

The Swallowtail Legacy: Wreck at Ada’s Reef by Michael D. Beil

After the death of her bird-loving mother, Lark Heron-Finch, her siblings, and her stepfather decide to spend the summer at her mother’s house on Swallowtail Island. Well, it’s now Lark and her sister’s house, technically. While there, Lark catches up with an old friend of her mother’s who is writing a book about a tragic boat accident that happened almost one hundred years ago. But something about it doesn’t seem like an accident to Lark, and maybe solving the mystery will be a great way to keep her mind off of other things. It’s a great story of family, grief, and justice. The second book in this series is out soon and is about a writers’ festival!

cover of Nightmare Island by Shakirah Bourne; illustration of a young Black boy and girl walking through a night forest surrounded by white butterflies

Nightmare Island by Shakirah Bourne (out June 6, 2023)

This is a fantastic upcoming Caribbean mythology mystery about siblings and a creepy island! Serenity has always been the troublesome child in her family, but when her brother Peace starts having problems sleeping, they send him for sleep treatment on Duppy Island. But alarm bells are going off in Serenity’s brain about the island and its doctor, so she decides to scope it out. Her investigation will lead her face-to-no-face with faceless children, or douens, who are stuck in limbo on the island. It’s up to Serenity to figure out what is going on and help Peace before he also becomes one!

cover of To Catch a Thief by Martha Brockenbrough; illustration of a girl in a red sweatshirt with brown hair and glasses picking a lock on a shed, with a tan dog on a leash next to her

To Catch a Thief by Martha Brockenbrough

Amelia MacGuffin (wink wink) lives what she thinks is a boring, ordinary life. But then someone steals the dragonfly staff that is important to the Dragonfly Day Festival and it changes her whole world. If the thief isn’t caught, the festival won’t happen, and it will be bad news for the town, and for Amelia and her friends. So she decides to play detective and find it — and it turns out, she might be better at this detective stuff than she knew. But she also might hate the answer to the mystery of who stole the staff.

cover of Premeditated Myrtle; illustration of a young girl with brown hair in an old-fashioned blue dress and carrying a brown shoulder bag

Premeditated Myrtle (Myrtle Hardcastle Mystery 1) by Elizabeth C. Bunce

This is a fun historical Edgar Award-winning mystery series! Myrtle isn’t interested in acting like the other girls of her time — she wants to learn about science, like her mother, and crime, like her father. When her elderly neighbor dies of mysterious causes, she gets her chance. Armed with a big brain full of knowledge about detecting and crime, Myrtle is on the case. Even if no one else believes there’s a case to be solved. There are five books in the series now, with the next one arriving on shelves in October.

the cover of The Keeper by Guadalupe Garcia McCall; illustration of a young boy and girl in the woods at night, shining a flashlight

The Keeper by Guadalupe García McCall

And this one is genuinely downright scary! It’s loosely based on the story of The Watcher. Jamie and his sister Ava are less than excited when they have to move from Texas to Oregon. They knew they would hate it — but they didn’t know it might cost them their lives. Shortly after they arrive, an anonymous person starts sending letters to Jamie, claiming to be watching the house and looking for blood. SCARY, RIGHT??? Despite being told everything in their neighborhood is wonderful and swell, Jamie and Ava decide to investigate the letters and find out just what really lurks under the surface of their “perfect” neighborhood.

cover of The Swifts: A Dictionary of Scoundrels by Beth Lincoln and Claire Powell; illustration of a group of people standing on a staircase

The Swifts: A Dictionary of Scoundrels by Beth Lincoln and Claire Powell

This one is the most Westing Game-like book of the bunch. It’s about the Swift family, who are getting ready for a family reunion. Legend has it that many decades ago, one of the family members hid gold in the house, but no one has ever been able to find it. Shenanigan Swift is ready to change that. She thinks she knows where it’s hidden and she’s going to get it all for herself. But then someone murders Arch-Aunt Schadenfreude, and Shenanigan has a whole new mystery on her hands. This one is so fun! All the family members are named after random words in the dictionary, and there’s clues and a map. It’s an epic nerdpurr!

cover of Chester Keene Cracks the Code by Kekla Magoon; illustration of a young Black boy holding a magnifying glass

Chester Keene Cracks the Code by Kekla Magoon

In this award-nominated mystery, Chester Keene is sensitive to the world around him and likes his routines. He also likes the codes he receives from his father, the spy. At least, he thinks he must be a spy. But when Chester agrees to work on solving a new puzzle with his classmate Skye, his carefully organized ways are disrupted. And even though it looks like they may be solving a heist, he’ll have to decide if this is a code he really wants to break.

cover of From the Desk of Zoe Washington by Janae Marks; illustration of a young Black girl sitting at a desk with earbuds in and her feet up on the desk

From the Desk of Zoe Washington by Janae Marks

This one got all the nominations and rave reviews when it came out for good reason! It’s a mystery and a family drama, about a young girl named — you guessed it — Zoe Washington and her father, who is in prison. Zoe and her father have never met or communicated until recently. Now, he sends her a birthday letter and mentions he is innocent of the crime he has been accused of committing. What would be better than solving the crime and getting her father out of prison? Zoe embarks on an investigation, hoping to find the clue that frees her father, while hiding her plan from everyone else. It’s an excellent, heart-squeezing mystery. And fans of this book can pick up book two, which came out earlier this year!

cover of Malamander (The Legends of Eerie-on-Sea Book 1); illustration of a close up of a giant green monster's red eye

Malamander (The Legends of Eerie-on-Sea Book 1) by Thomas Taylor and Tom Booth

And last but not least: This is one of my new favorite mystery series, and it is equal parts silly, supernatural, and scary! Young Herbert Lemon runs the lost and found desk at the Grand Nautilus Hotel in the seaside town of Eerie-on-Sea. But little does he know, he’s about to embark on a real mystery, when a young girl named Violet falls through his window. Violet wants to know what happened to her parents 12 years ago, when they went missing at the hotel. And she thinks Herbert is the very person to help her. Their search for clues and answers will include mythological sea monsters, menacing pirates, talking cats, glowing eggs, and more! And get ready, because book four in this series comes out later this month!

For even more mystery goodness for young readers, check out 10 of the Best Books About Kid Detectives and 15 Detective Books for Young Sleuths.