Mystery Books for Pre Teens…

preteenThis next comment was sent in by Nana B:

“Any suggestions for cozy book mysteries for a 9 year old??”

Holly did answer:

“NanaB — for a 9 year old, try the Sammy Keyes series. Great mysteries for the ‘tween set (and adults can enjoy them too — I’m proof!). Well written, tons of fun, lots of humor, spunky young teen detective — sort of Nancy Drew of 21st century.”

Do any of you know of some really good mystery books that are written for +/- nine year olds? If so, please post a comment. Thank you!
♦ ♦ ♦ ♦ ♦ ♦ ♦ ♦ ♦ ♦ ♦ ♦ ♦ ♦ ♦ ♦ ♦ ♦ ♦ ♦
Here are some suggestions for children’s mystery books. As usual, you should take a look at the suggested age level and/or reading level that is given on each book.

Agatha Awards Best Children & Young Adult Winners and Nominees

Edgar Awards Best Juvenile

American Girl History Mysteries

Robert Arthur: Alfred Hitchcock and the Three Investigators (The Secret of Terror Castle is the first of the series)

Blue Balliett & Brett Helquist (Illustrator): Chasing Vermeer

Blue Balliett & Brett Helquist (Illustrator): The Wright 3

Blue Balliett & Brett Helquist (Illustrator): The Calder Game

Blue Balliett: The Danger Box

Mac Barnett & Adam Rex (Illustrator): Brixton Brothers Mystery Series

Michael D. Beil: Red Blazer Girls Mystery Series

Enid Blyton: Adventure Mystery Series

Enid Blyton: Famous Five Mystery Series

Enid Blyton: Secret Seven Mystery Series

Enid Blyton: Secret Mystery Series

Elise Broach: Shakespeare’s Secret

Michael Buckley & Peter Ferguson (Illustrator): The Sisters Grimm: Fairy Tale Detectives

Bruce Campbell: Ken Holt Mystery Series

Julie Campbell: Trixie Belden Mystery Series

Simon Cheshire: Saxby Smart, Private Detective Mystery Series

Bruce Coville: My children loved all of his books. My Teacher Is An Alien, etc. (More sci-fi, with a touch of mystery…)

Franklyn W. Dixon: The Hardy Boys Mystery Series

John R. Erickson & Gerald L. Holmes (Illustrator): Hank the Cowdog Series (My children loved these!) (More adventure, with a tough of mystery…)

John Grisham: Theodore Boone, Kid Lawyer Mystery Series

Mary Downing Hahn: Closed for the Season

Mary Downing Hahn: The Dead Man in Indian Creek

Mary Downing Hahn: All the Lovely Bad Ones

Mary Downing Hahn: Deep and Dark and Dangerous

Mary Downing Hahn: The Doll in the Garden

Mary Downing Hahn: The Old Willis Place

Mary Downing Hahn: Time for Andrew

Mary Downing Hahn: Wait Till Helen Comes

Kim Harrington: Sleuth or Dare Mystery Series

Marie Jacks, Jahanna N. Malcolm, A. E. Parker, Dona Smith, Eric Weiner: Clue Mystery Series

Carolyn Keene: The Nancy Drew Mystery Series

David A. Kelly: Ballpark Mystery Series

Andrew Lane: Young Sherlock Holmes Mystery Series

Caroline Lawrence: Roman Mysteries Series

Carole Marsh: Real Kids, Real Places Mystery Series (The Mystery in New York City)

Louise Moeri: A Horse for X.Y.Z.

Katherine Hall Page: Christie & Company Mystery Series

Shane Peacock: Boy Sherlock Holmes Mystery Series

Justin Richards: Invisible Detective Mystery Series

Ron Roy & John Steven Gurney (Illustrator): A to Z Mystery Series

Lois Snelling: The Yellow Cup Mystery, etc.

Donald J. Sobol: Encyclopedia Brown, Boy Detective

Nancy Springer: Enola Holmes Mystery Series

Wendelin Van Draanen: Sammy Keyes and the Hotel Thief, etc.

Gertrude Chandler Warner: The Boxcar Children Mystery Series

Penny Warner: Mystery of the Haunted Caves  ’01 (Agatha & Anthony Awards for Best Juvenile Mystery) (9-12 year olds)

Penny Warner: Code Busters Club Mystery Series Book #1: Skeleton Key (9-12 year olds)

Marjorie Weinman Sharmat & Marc Simont (Illustrator): Nate the Great Mystery Series (My children loved these.)

Jacqueline West: The Shadows (book #1 in the Books of Elsewhere)

Jerry West: The Happy Hollisters Mystery Series

Betty Ren Wright: The Dollhouse Murders AND Christina’s Ghost

***** ***** ***** *****

Best Selling Authors with Children’s or Young Adult Mystery Series, Part 1

Best Selling Authors with Children’s or Young Adult Mystery Series, Part 2

Best Selling Authors with Children’s or Young Adult Mystery Series, Part 3


  1. Alfred says

    Nana B and Danna Try Encyclopedia Brown books they are about that age for kids. Also Clue by A.E.Parker has some books for kids 9 to 12 based on the characters from the board game. You can probably get them at bookstores or even Ebay, doesn’t have them. Hope this helps on a couple.

    • Danna - cozy mystery list says

      Thank you, Alfred, for telling us about the Clue Mystery Series. I just added them to the list of Mystery Books for Pre Teens. You’re right… they look like they’ll be difficult to find, but well worth the quest.

      Thanks, again!

  2. Kimberlee says

    I have to recommend Nancy Drew. There are the classic ones and then there are the newer additions to the series that are more modern. Nancy Drew is a a great cozy series and there are a ton of games and things to do with Nancy Drew even now. There is a computer game series that you can play on your computer that is quite fun now. I grew up reading Nancy Drew books and still have all them as I can’t bear to part with them. Great series!

    • Danna - cozy mystery list says

      Kimberlee, I just added Nancy Drew to the list of Pre Teen Mystery Books. I actually have one of those Nancy Drew computer games! A friend of mine (an adult Cozy Mystery reader) recommended it to me.

  3. Pat C. says

    When I was a kid I much preferred Trixie Belden to Nancy Drew. As a character, Trixie was much easier to relate to because she wasn’t perfect. One thing I want to point out to those interested is that Julie Campbell wrote only the first six books of the series (The Secret of the Mansion, The Gatehouse Mystery, The Red Trailer Mystery, Mystery off Glen Road, The Mysterious Visitor, and Mystery in Arizona.) After that the books were written by someone else and start feeling formulaic and the characters just didn’t ring true (bearing in mind that I read these books 50 years ago!) My 22-year-old daughter read them more recently – more like 12 years ago and she liked them a lot too.

    • Danna - cozy mystery list says

      Thank you, Pat C, I just added Julie Campbell to the list. I believe I read some of those mysteries years and years (and years!) ago…

  4. Judith says

    American Girl has some History Mysteries for some of its historical doll characters that I have enjoyed. (They also had some historical mysteries that were unrelated to their doll characters – but those are harder to find.)

    • Danna - cozy mystery list says

      Thank you, Judith. I just added the American Girl History Mysteries to the list. I remember when American Girl was just beginning…

  5. Susan says

    Another older series – again, now hard to find. :( – in the Nancy Drew / Hardy Boys vein, was the “Ken Holt” mystery series by Bruce Campbell. There were only 16 but I loved them, and still do! (And I’m still searching for those I don’t have! Lol!)
    Hmmm…. Lois Snelling is another vintage childrens mystery author that I was lucky enough to find as a child. A little dated, now, but there are a couple on Amazon fairly cheaply.
    I don’t know where the requester is, but British author Enid Blyton wrote literally hundreds of books, including a lot of wonderful mystery / adventure. The majority are still readily available. For a 9 yr old, I’d suggest starting with the “Famous Five” (All have Five in the title) or the “Adventure” series. Wonderful books, all!
    Good Luck and I’m glad to see the next generation is still reading! :)

    • Danna - cozy mystery list says

      Thank you, Susan. I will go add all of these authors to the list. These additions look great!

  6. Laura says

    NanaB: There is a website ( that has reviews of books for children and young adults written by kids. There is a list of subjects that includes mysteries. Also, there is an age range that you can click on. This might be helpful in finding out what is new and what other kids really like.

  7. Jon says

    Mary Downing Hahn’s middle-grade books are wonderful. Some are ghost stories and some (like Edgar-winner Closed For The Season) are traditional, non-paranormal mysteries. Also, I don’t know if they’re available anymore, but I loved Alfred Hitchcock and the Three Investigators when I was a kid.

    • Danna - cozy mystery list says

      Thanks, Jon, for telling us about Mary Downing Hahn. I’ll go add her to the list of mystery books for pre-teens. Also, thank you for telling us about Robert Arthur’s Alfred Hitchcock and the Three Investigators collection. I have added them to the list as well.

  8. says

    I love the site! I find I still will pick up an old version Nancy Drew or even a Bobbsey Twins mystery at a rummage sale. They are good reads for a rainy day, or at the end of a long stress-filled week and I am 31 years old! Also the older ones give a look into a different way of life for younger kids these days. I know I’ll continue reading them! Thanks for all the info!

    • Danna - cozy mystery list says

      Welcome to the site, Sarah. I’m glad you found us! When I heard that the publishers had actually updated the Nancy Drew mysteries, I absolutely could not believe it. I think that most people are choosing to stick with the old versions, as you are doing.

  9. says

    Hi from a fellow mystery lover! ^_^
    I haven’t read any of these books yet (except for Saxby Smart) but I think they’d be pretty good as a mystery starter set for kids. 😉

    Saxby Smart Private Detective Series by Simon Chesire
    The Curse of the Ancient Mask
    The Fangs of the Dragon
    The Pirate’s Blood
    The Hangman’s Lair
    Five Seconds to Doomsday
    The Poisoned Arrow
    Secret of the Skull

    with a spin-off book:
    Saxby Smart’s Detective Handbook

    The Enola Holmes Mysteries by Nancy Springer
    The Case of the Missing Marquess (2006)
    The Case of the Left-Handed Lady (2007)
    The Case of the Bizarre Bouquets (2008)
    The Case of the Peculiar Pink Fan (2008)
    The Case of the Cryptic Crinoline (2009)
    The Case of the Gypsy Goodbye (2010

    Young Sherlock Holmes Series by Andrew Lane
    Death Cloud (2010)
    Red Leech (2010)
    Black Ice (2011)
    Fire Storm (2011)

    Boy Sherlock Holmes Series by Shane Peacock
    Eye of the Crow (2007)
    Death in the Air (2008)
    Vanishing Girl (2009)
    The Secret Fiend (2010)
    The Dragon Turn (2011)
    Master Sherlock (2012)

    Flavia de Luce Mysteries by Alan Bradley
    The Sweetness At the Bottom of the Pie (2009)
    The Weed That Strings the Hangman’s Bag (2010)
    A Red Herring Without Mustard (2010)
    I Am Half Sick of Shadows (2011)

    Invisible Detective Series by Justin Richards
    The Paranormal Puppet Show (2003)
    The Shadow Beast (2003)
    Ghost Soldiers (2003)
    Killing Time (2003)
    The Faces of Evil (2004)
    The Web of Anubis (2004)
    Stage Fright (2005)
    Legion of the Dead (2005)

    The Roman Mysteries by Caroline Lawrence
    1) The Thieves of Ostia (2001)
    2) The Secrets of Vesuvius (2001)
    3) The Pirates of Pompeii (2002)
    4) The Assassins of Rome (2002)
    5) The Dolphins of Laurentum (2003)
    6) The Twelve Tasks of Flavia Gemina (2003)
    7) The Enemies of Jupiter (2003)
    8) The Gladiators from Capua (2004)
    9) The Colossus of Rhodes (2005)
    10) The Fugitive from Corinth (2005)
    11) The Sirens of Surrentum (2006)
    12) The Charioteer of Delphi (2006)
    13) The Slave-girl from Jerusalem (2007)
    14) The Beggar of Volubilis (2008)
    15) The Scribes from Alexandria (2008)
    16) The Prophet from Ephesus (2009)
    17) The Man from Pomegranate Street (2009)

    with additional spin-off books:
    The Code of Romulus (2007)
    Trimalchio’s Feast and other mini-mysteries (2007)
    The Roman Mysteries Treasury (2007)
    From Ostia to Alexandria with Flavia Gemini (2008)
    The Legionary from Londinium and other mini-mysteries (2010)

    The Encyclopedia Brown Series by Donald J. Sobol
    1. Encyclopedia Brown, Boy Detective (1963)
    2. The Case of the Secret Pitch (1965)
    3. Encyclopedia Brown Finds the Clues (1966)
    4. Encyclopedia Brown Gets His Man (1967)
    5. Encyclopedia Brown Brown Solves Them All (1968)
    6. Encyclopedia Brown Keeps the Peace (1969)
    7. Encyclopedia Brown Saves the Day (1970)
    8. Encyclopedia Brown Tracks Them Down (1971)
    9. Encyclopedia Brown Shows the Way (1972)
    10. Encyclopedia Brown Takes the Case (1973)
    11. Encyclopedia Brown Lends a Hand (1974)
    aka The Case of the Exploding Plumbing
    12. The Case of the Dead Eagles (1975)
    13. The Case of the Midnight Visitor (1977)
    14. Encyclopedia Brown Carries On (1980)
    15. Encyclopedia Brown Sets the Pace (1982)
    15. Encyclopedia Brown Takes the Cake! (1982)
    16. The Case of the Mysterious Handprints (1985)
    17. The Case of the Treasure Hunt (1988)
    18. The Case of the Disgusting Sneakers (1990)
    19. The Case of the Two Spies (1995)
    20. The Case of Pablo’s Nose (1997)
    21. The Case of the Sleeping Dog (1998)
    22. The Case of the Slippery Salamander (1999)
    23. The Case of the Jumping Frogs (2003)
    24. Encyclopedia Brown Breaks the Case (1982)
    25. Encyclopedia Brown, Super Sleuth (2009)
    26. Encyclopedia Brown and the Case of the Secret UFO (2010)
    The Best of Encyclopedia Brown (omnibus) (1982)
    The Case of the Whistling Ghost (1990)

    Encyclopedia Brown (New Edition)
    Encyclopedia Brown and the Case of the Dead Eagles (2008)
    Encyclopedia Brown and the Case of the Midnight Visitor (2008)
    Encyclopedia Brown Cracks the Case (2008)
    Encyclopedia Brown and the Case of the Carnival Crime (2011)

    – The Traveling Reader

    • Danna - cozy mystery list says

      Thank you so much, Traveling Reader, for this great list of mysteries for pre teens. I have added them to the list of Mystery Books for Pre Teens.

      My children would have benefited a lot from the works of all these authors who dedicate themselves to fostering the love of reading in children.

  10. says

    I think you missed out on the Flavia de Luce Mysteries (or do they belong to another category – for older teens, maybe?)

    Flavia de Luce Mysteries by Alan Bradley
    The Sweetness At the Bottom of the Pie (2009)
    The Weed That Strings the Hangman’s Bag (2010)
    A Red Herring Without Mustard (2010)
    I Am Half Sick of Shadows (2011)

    Plus, Michael D. Beil’s The Red Blazer Girls Series:
    The Ring of Rocamadour (2009)
    The Vanishing Violin (2010)
    The Mistaken Masterpiece (2011)

    It’s so much fun suggesting and getting to know new authors and books by the great blog you have here, Danna. :)

    • Danna - cozy mystery list says

      Actually, Traveling Reader, I wasn’t sure Alan Bradley’s Flavia de Luce mysteries were for children… (I haven’t read them, so relied on the fact that it won the 2009 Agatha Award for Best New Novel… which I thought might have meant it was intended for adults.

      I am going to go add Michael D. Beil’s Red Blazer Girls series to the list.

      Thank you so much for ALL of your help!

  11. says

    And oh, Katherine Hall Page (of the Faith Fairchild cozy mystery fame) also wrote a mystery series for young kids: CHRISTIE & COMPANY MYSTERY SERIES

    Then Kim Harrington, known for her YA books Clarity and Perception, will also be venturing into the mystery genre with middle-grade girls as main leads:

    1) Partners in Crime
    2) Sleepover Stakeout
    3) Framed & Dangerous

    • Danna - cozy mystery list says

      Thank you, Traveling Reader. I have Katherine Hall Page’s Christie & Company Mystery Series on the list, and will go add Kim Harrington’s Sleuth or Dare Mystery Series right now.

  12. Sprite says

    The Happy Holisters by Jerry West is another mystery series I read as a child. My oldest child read them when she was eight or nine, and enjoyed them as much as I did!

  13. Mia says

    The Tweenage Detectives is a good clean mystery book for children of pre-teen age. Sold on Amazon as an e-book.

    No website yet, working on it.

  14. Susan* says

    I just found the equestrian mystery page, and was reminded of this one. A very good children’s horse mystery called ‘A Horse for XYZ’, by Louise Moeri. Probably 10 – 12 age group.
    I had a copy, and although I wasn’t as horse-mad as some girls, I still loved it.

  15. Hime says

    There’s also The Secret Series by Pseudonymous Bosch. It has a bit more adventure then your average mystery series but it’s a good safe read for kids.

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