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The best crime and mystery books for kids and teens

There’s simply no doubt about it: nothing beats a good mystery. No matter your age, crime fiction can hook you in, take you on a rollercoaster ride and leave you desperate to find out what happens at the end.

Whether you’re looking for murder mystery books for teens, crime novels for younger readers, or a story for someone who’s simply young at heart, these books are packed with intrigue and are guaranteed to help kick-start a life-long love of reading.

Below, we’ve rounded up our book recommendations, so you can find the best murder mysteries, detective books and crime novels for teens and kids of any age.

Murder mystery books for teens

One Of Us Is Lying by Karen M. McManus

One Of Us Is Lying by Karen M. McManus

Five students go into detention, but only four come out alive. The suspects are Yale hopeful Bronwyn, bad boy Nate, popular girl Addy and sports star Cooper. All four have secrets to hide – and motive for killing Simon, whose gossip site destroyed lives – but who is guilty?

This book is a TikTok sensation and inspired a major Netflix series, and we can see why. The plot is fast-paced, twisty and completely unpredictable. Once you’ve finished the first book, you’ll want to finish the series with One of Us Is Next and One Of Us Is Back.

Friends Like These by Jennifer Lynn Alvarez

Friends Like These by Jennifer Lynn Alvarez

It’s the end of summer break and Tegan is throwing her annual beach party. Jake tells his girlfriend Jess it’s the perfect way to start their senior year. But when a video prank from the party goes viral, and a body is discovered on the beach, Jake and Jessica find themselves at the heart of a media storm and a police investigation. Now they’re in a race to uncover the truth before the killer strikes again…This grippingly entertaining murder mystery is perfect for fans of Gone Girl and One Of Us Is Lying.

The Inheritance Games by Jennifer Lynn Barnes

The Inheritance Games by Jennifer Lynn Barnes

Life hasn’t been easy for 17-year-old Avery, but she plans to work hard for a better future. Until suddenly an eccentric billionaire in Texas dies, leaving her almost his entire fortune. Nobody knows why – not least his family, who have been practically disinherited. Together with the billionaire’s four grandsons, Avery must solve a series of puzzles to find out why she has been chosen. But in this deadly game, the family will go to extreme lengths to keep “their” money…

This is the first book in an addictive series, and we recommend the books that follow: The Hawthorne Legacy, The Final Gambit and The Brothers Hawthorne.

Shelter by Harlan Coben

Shelter by Harlan Coben

Harlan Coben has made a name for himself as the master of the twisty psychological thriller – and his young adult “Mickey Bolitar” series is no exception.

The first novel, Shelter, follows Mickey as he comes to terms with his father’s death and moves in with his uncle, Myron (who is, incidentally, the protagonist in Coben’s adult fiction). While settling into his new school, Mickey develops feelings for a classmate, Ashley. But when she suddenly vanishes, Mickey investigates – and discovers the small town has dark secrets. This enthralling story is now a series on Amazon Prime.

A Good Girl's Guide to Murder by Holly Jackson

A Good Girl’s Guide to Murder by Holly Jackson

Five years ago, a student called Andie was murdered and everyone in her small town believes her boyfriend Sal did it. Everyone, that is, except for a girl called Pippa. For a school project, Pippa investigates the murder and starts to uncover secrets that people in her town wish would stay hidden. But as her pursuit of justice becomes deadly, she must ask herself: how far will she go for the truth?

This addictive novel is hugely popular on TikTok. It has the pace and atmosphere of a true crime podcast, and you won’t predict the ending.

Mystery books for 10 to 12 year olds

Lockwood and Co: The Screaming Staircase by Jonathan Stroud

Lockwood and Co.: The Screaming Staircase by Jonathan Stroud

Lucy Carlyle is a teenage ghost-hunter who joins Lockwood and Co as a junior field operator. Not only does she have an unusual talent of hearing ghosts, she’s also prepared to spend the night in one of the most haunted houses in England to help rid the country of dangerous apparitions. But will she come out alive?

Sherlock meets Ghostbusters in the first in this chilling new series full of spooky suspense, supernatural beings and a good dose of humour added in. It’s a real page turner with a deliciously creepy atmosphere. Enjoy it if you dare.

Ali Cross by James Patterson

Ali Cross by James Patterson

Alex Cross has made a name for himself as a tenacious detective and his son, Ali, hopes to follow in his footsteps. So, when his friend goes missing, he springs into action to try and piece together the clues. He’s learned the tricks of the trade from his father; the only thing he hasn’t learned is patience. Because Ali knows that with every day that passes, his friend is less likely to ever be found. And, being Alex Cross’ son, Ali can’t accept those odds.

This fun mystery introduces a brilliant new hero who truly takes after his father. A great one for older kids – or a light read for anyone who loves the Alex Cross series.

Hacker by Malorie Blackman

Hacker by Malorie Blackman

Vicky is a normal teenage girl until her dad is accused of stealing £1 million from the bank where he works. She knows he’s innocent and is determined to prove it, so she puts her computer hacking skills to the test and accesses the bank’s files. But it’s a race against time to find the real thief before they find her…

This page-turner has a refreshing plot, and – like everything Malorie Blackman writes – it’s so immersive and well-written. We’d highly recommend.

Murder Most Unladylike by Robin Stevens

Murder Most Unladylike by Robin Stevens

Thirteen-year-old BFFs Daisy Wells and Hazel Wong have set up their own top-secret detective agency at Deepdean High – and now all they need is a case to solve. So when science mistress Miss Bell is found dead in the gym, Daisy and Hazel are primed and ready to investigate. An energetic, witty and endearing whodunit that’s full of suspense and will keep young readers entertained until the very end, when all they’ll want to do is search out the next book in the series!

(And if you’re a classic crime fan, you’ll love the references to the likes of Agatha Christie and Margery Allingham too!)

The London Eye Mystery by Siobhan Dowd

The London Eye Mystery by Siobhan Dowd

At 11:32 am, Ted and Kat watch their cousin Salim board the London Eye – but as Salim’s pod completes its circuit at 12:02 pm, he’s nowhere to be found. When the police draw blanks, Ted and Kat have no alternative but to follow a trail of clues around London in the hunt for their missing cousin themselves.

Told from the point of view of Ted, a sparky twelve-year-old with Asperger Syndrome, this is a satisfying mystery and a brilliant portrayal of how children overcome personal challenges. Plus, there’s a fantastic sequel – The Guggenheim Mystery by Robin Stevens – to get stuck into afterwards!

Mystery books for 6 to 9 year olds

Emil and the Detectives by Erich Kästner

Emil and the Detectives by Erich Kästner

Young Emil is packed off on a train to stay with his grandmother when his holiday money goes missing. A gang of boys come to the rescue and together they’re determined to catch the thief and get the money back.

Originally written in 1928, this crime caper has been loved through the generations. Bursting full of courageous characters, it celebrates children and their hidden strengths. A classic crime tale of its time.

Dead Man's Cove by Lauren St John

Dead Man’s Cove by Lauren St John

When orphan Laura Marlin moves from her children’s home to live with her uncle in his creepy house in Cornwall he forbids her from visiting Dead Man’s Cove – but why? Then Laura gets a mysterious message in a bottle from an unknown sender and the plot thickens… Can ace detective Laura and new friend Skye, a three-legged husky, get to the bottom of what’s going on?

A deadly quest with thrilling twists and turns, this award-winning book will keep young readers captivated.

Five on a Treasure Island by Enid Blyton

Five On A Treasure Island by Enid Blyton

Join the infamous Julian, Dick, Anne, George and four-legged adventurer Timmy – aka the famous five – on their very first adventure! When a shipwreck occurs off Kirrin Island the treasure goes missing and the intrepid fivesome are hot on the trail to find the missing treasure before someone else does.

An old-fashioned adventure that has entertained and enthralled readers for years, with a host of sequels for young readers to lose themselves in when they’re hooked.

The Mona Lisa Mystery by Pat Hutchins

The Mona Lisa Mystery by Pat Hutchins

Join the pupils of class 3 in Hampstead Primary School on a school trip to Paris they’ll never forget, as they find themselves mixed up with a group of art thieves determined to steal the Mona Lisa. It’s a good job the kids are equally determined to find the culprit!

Beautifully illustrated by Laurence Hutchins, this classic crime adventure is a firm favourite with school readers and once read will never be forgotten.

Have we missed any of the best children’s crime fiction books? Let us know in the comments below!


    Emil and the detectives was a book I read in 1976- I’ve been reading for as long as I could talk.
    Loved it then, revisit it often as it is such an heroic tale

    Can I just add one from my childhood . The Otterbury Incident . Don’t even know if it’s still in print but as a 10 year old , approx. 55 years ago , I loved it.

    Nate the Great-

    Nate the great-

    Marjorie Weinman Sharmat- wonderful for beginner readers,one of the first books our dyslexic son managed to read by himself,and he laughed at the jokes !

    Marjorie Weinman Sharmat

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