8 Must-Read Mystery Books for Tweens

One of my favorite things about the tween age is that one minute, kids in this age group feel ready to take on Serious Things, and the next, you might catch them role-playing in dress-up (that they will tell you is definitely not dress-up). They dream of big adventures, important jobs, and starring roles, and they’re energized by stories of kids doing those very things.

When I was a tween, I loved reading mysteries because they combine all those things. They require clever protagonists who piece together clues while taking on something big and bad — and getting home in time for dinner. I found mystery stories exciting and empowering.

If you have a young reader in your life who likes suspense and deciphering clues (and maybe a little snooping), these eight books will be a hit.

no no 9780525552864 Shirley and Jamila Save Their Summer by Gillian Goerz

Jamila and Shirley both hate their moms’ summer camp plans. When they meet at a neighborhood tag sale, they decide to join forces and pretend to be friends, so their moms will let them create a new summer plan. But when Jamila discovers Shirley is secretly the neighborhood’s number one detective, she also realizes she’s not so bad at crime-solving either. The girls partner up in this fun graphic novel whodunit about friendship, forgiveness, and growing up.

9781984815330 Tornado Brain by Cat Patrick

Frankie is neurodivergent and has a tough time making friends. She had one friend — Colette — but not anymore. When Colette vanishes after an unexpected visit to Frankie’s house, and it seems Frankie was the last person to see her, Frankie becomes convinced that her ex-friend left clues for her to follow. She persuades her sister to help her unravel the clues and find Colette before it’s too late.

9780593350539 Enola Holmes: The Case of the Missing Marquess by Nancy Springer

Enola Holmes is the quintessential middle grade mystery. It features a teenage girl (who is Sherlock Holmes’ little sister) who takes matters into her own hands when her mother goes missing, and no one can figure out where she went. After outwitting her brothers and caretakers, she heads to London to look for her mom but ends up in the middle of a second mystery — the kidnapping of a marquess.

9780525516880 Kingston and the Magician’s Lost and Found by Rucker Moses and Theo Gangi

Kingston’s dad, a magician, disappeared into a mirror during a magic show four years ago. When he and his mom return to Echo City, Brooklyn, and his dad’s childhood home, Kingston begins a quest to solve the mystery of his missing father. But when he finds a magic box, Kingston accidentally opens a portal into the Realm and has to scramble to save his father and bring magic back to Echo City before it’s too late.

9780142406113 Stormbreaker by Anthony Horowitz

Everyone says his uncle died in a car accident, but bullet holes tell Alex Rider a different story. He finds out his uncle was a spy, and when M16 sees his potential, Alex gets recruited and armed with various gadgets to help find his uncle’s killers. The first book in the Alex Rider series, Stormbreaker, is like a teenage James Bond.

9780593112298 The Many Mysteries of the Finkel Family by Sarah Kapit

This novel centers on two autistic sisters and their evolving relationship. When Caroline starts middle school, Lara thinks she will show her the ropes, but Caroline wants to begin this new chapter in her own way. She makes a new friend (who Lara finds questionable) and doesn’t even want to join FIASCCO (Finkel Investigation Agency Solving Consequential Crimes Only), Lara’s new detective agency. Lara starts snooping around and uncovers family secrets. She notices that Caroline, who communicates via an app on her tablet, texts her new friend nonstop, and Lara wants to know what is going on. Things start to spiral out of control, but will Lara and Caroline be able to make amends?

9780307931474 Escape from Mr. Lemoncello’s Library Movie Tie-In Edition by Chris Grabenstein

Full of laugh-out-loud scenes and mind-bending puzzles, this first book in the Mr. Lemoncello’s Library series follows a group of 11-year-olds who try to work their way out of an elaborate escape room. Mr. Lemoncello is a famous game maker who designed a new library with an extra-special opening night. The winners of an essay contest get locked in and have to work through clues and puzzles to find their way out.

9780593202913 Midnight at the Barclay Hotel by Fleur Bradley, illustrated by Xavier Bonet

This fun and spooky mystery story starts with an invitation to an all-expenses-paid weekend at the Barclay Hotel. JJ is thrilled because the hotel is one of the most haunted places in Colorado, and he plans to bring his ghost-hunting gear. But when they get to the hotel, they realize they are smack in the middle of a murder mystery — and everyone is hiding something. JJ and his new friends Penny and Emma are determined to find the killer… and hunt some ghosts along the way.

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8 Must-Read Mystery Books for Tweens