20 Books for Tweens Who Love a Good, Cozy Mystery

Mystery books for tweens book covers featuring Mysterious Benedict Society, Book Scavenger and The Parker Inheritance
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“What are some good mystery books for middle schoolers?”

So, you are a tween looking for books of mystery and intrigue! I like your style! Mystery books are the best, aren’t they? Especially during the time of year when the leaves on the trees start to turn colors and your hopes that your Hogwarts letter will arrive in the mail any day now begins thriving in your heart again.  Or, perhaps, you are a parent or teacher looking to brush up on what’s trending in the ‘mystery books for tweens’ section of the digital search engine that is Google.

Mystery Books for Tweens

Today, we are dedicating ourselves to the genre of mystery! I bring to you the best mystery books that are loved by tweens today. Actually, many of these books have stood the test of time and have been loved by generations of tweens.

Maybe you will find something you remember reading when you were a tween! I love being reconnected with books that I have long forgotten about and I’m hoping that for you in this post!

The mystery genre is a little hard to navigate when it comes to books for tweens. Some mystery books, like The Magic Treehouse Series, are geared for a younger audience. Then there are Young Adult Mystery books that contain more adult themes, more gore, more thrill, that are not so appealing to the tween audience. The lines gets fuzzy.

How to Tell if a Mystery Book is Written for Tweens

I’d say the biggest indicator that helps parents and teachers understand what is considered a mystery book for tweens is asking whether or not the book’s plot contains themes of friendship, loss of friendship (or love, or family) and characters that are in their tweenaged or teenaged years. There is also a lack of serious romance (physical or emotional) and not so much detail that makes you wish there was “Parental Advisory” suggestion sticker stuck to the front cover.

If you want to learn more about what makes a middle grade book a middle grade book, read here. I wrote an entire post that helps readers and parents understand what sets middle grades apart from young readers and young adult level fiction.

A Perfect Example of a Mystery Middle Grade Book

I think the perfect, most relatable, example of a mystery book for tweens would be, Harry Potter and the Chambers of Secrets. It contains loads of character development, themes of friendship and the plot is driven by the mystery of who opened the Chamber of Secrets. It is not overly scary or gruesome nor does it read like a young reader.

I hope this helps. I also hope that you enjoy this list of mystery books for tweens as much as I do. If you find something you love or are going to add onto your TBR list right away, let us know!

Most of these mystery books for tweens are part of a series. As with most posts, I will only be highlighting the first book of the series. Click on the book cover to read more about the other books in their series on Amazon. 

If you like this list, be sure to take a gander at all the other book lists Reading A La Mode has to offer! If there is something you wish you could see here, message me on Instagram @samanthalamode or join the Facebook group here.

Table of Contents

Theodore Boone: Kid Lawyer

John Grisham

In the small city of Strattenburg, there are many lawyers, and though he’s only thirteen years old, Theo Boone thinks he’s one of them. Theo knows every judge, policeman, court clerk—and a lot about the law. He dreams of being a great trial lawyer, of a life in the courtroom.

But Theo finds himself in court much sooner than expected. Because he knows so much—maybe too much—he is suddenly dragged into the middle of a sensational murder trial. A cold-blooded killer is about to go free, and only Theo knows the truth.

The stakes are high, but Theo won’t stop until justice is served.

A Reading A La Mode Favorite!

Louis Sachar

Stanley Yelnats is under a curse. A curse that began with his no-good-dirty-rotten-pig-stealing-great-great-grandfather and has since followed generations of Yelnatses. Now Stanley has been unjustly sent to a boys’ detention center, Camp Green Lake, where the boys build character by spending all day, every day digging holes exactly five feet wide and five feet deep. There is no lake at Camp Green Lake. But there are an awful lot of holes.

It doesn’t take long for Stanley to realize there’s more than character improvement going on at Camp Green Lake. The boys are digging holes because the warden is looking for something. But what could be buried under a dried-up lake? Stanley tries to dig up the truth in this inventive and darkly humorous tale of crime and punishment—and redemption.

Bryan Chick

This mystery book for tweens is a mix of fantasy, mystery and animals all rolled into one strange and magical adventure! It rests on the younger side of the middle grade spectrum so to speak however, it is rife with fun adventures that all readers young and old will enjoy!

Noah, his sister Megan, and their best friends, Richie and Ella, live next door to the zoo. Megan is the first to notice the puzzling behavior of some of the animals. One day Megan disappears, and her brother and their friends realize it’s up to them to find her. Their only choice is to follow a series of clues and sneak into the zoo. But once inside, they discover there’s much more to the Clarksville City Zoo than they could ever have guessed…

Robert Beatty
Serafina has never had a reason to disobey her pa and venture beyond the grounds of Biltmore Estate. There’s plenty to explore in Mr. and Mrs. Vanderbilt’s vast and opulent home, but she must take care to never be seen. None of the rich folk upstairs know that Serafina exists; she and her pa, the estate’s maintenance man, have lived in the basement for as long as Serafina can remember. She has learned to prowl through the darkened corridors at night, to sneak and hide, using the mansion’s hidden doors and secret passageways. But when children at the estate start disappearing, only Serafina knows the clues to follow. A terrifying man in a black cloak stalks Biltmore’s corridors at night. Following her own harrowing escape, Serafina risks everything by joining forces with Braeden Vanderbilt, the young nephew of Biltmore’s owners. Braeden and Serafina must uncover the Man in the Black Cloak’s true identity before all of the children vanish one by one. Serafina’s hunt leads her into the very forest that she has been taught to fear, where she discovers a forgotten legacy of magic. In order to save the children of Biltmore, Serafina must not only face her darkest enemy, but delve into the strange mystery of her own identity.
Jude Watson

On a foggy night in Amsterdam, a man falls from a rooftop to the wet pavement below. It’s Alfie McQuinn, the notorious cat burglar, and he’s dying. As sirens wail in the distance, Alfie manages to get out two last words to his young son, March: “Find jewels.” But March learns that his father is not talking about a stash of loot. He’s talking about Jules, the twin sister March never knew he had. No sooner than the two find each other, they’re picked up by the police and sent to the world’s worst orphanage. It’s not prison, but it feels like it.

March and Jules have no intention of staying put. They know their father’s business inside and out, and they’re tired of being pushed around. Just one good heist, and they’ll live the life of riches and freedom most kids only dream about. Watch out! There are wild kids on the loose and a crime spree coming …

Paul Aertker

This mystery book is like the Bourne Identity… but for tweens. It is so action-packed and fast paced you might as well buy all 3 of the books in the series.

While sleeping on the roof of his father’s hotel-spy school, thirteen-year-old Lucas Benes finds a baby alone and learns that the Good Company has restarted its profitable brainwashing business. The first book in the trilogy tracks the secret urban adventures of international teenage spies. Lucas, the reluctant hero, leads a group of friends through the hotspots of Paris-from the catacombs to the Eiffel tower-in an all-out effort to sabotage a brainwashing ceremony that could potentially turn them all into “Good” kids.

James Patterson

Did you ever read the Alex Cross series by James Patterson? You know the one that turned into a major blockbuster franchise and sold over 100 million copies? Well, here we are in 2022 following the mystery packed adventure of Alex’s son, Ali… and in the form of a middle grade book. James Patterson knows a thing or two about writing for this age group and we are here for it!

Ali Cross has always looked up to his father, former detective and FBI agent Alex Cross. While solving some of the nation’s most challenging crimes, his father always kept his head and did the right thing. Can Ali have the same strength and resolve?

When Ali’s best friend Gabe is reported missing, Ali is desperate to find him. At the same time, a string of burglaries targets his neighborhood — and even his own house. With his father on trial for a crime he didn’t commit, it’s up to Ali to search for clues and find his friend. But being a kid sleuth isn’t easy — especially when your father warns you not to get involved! — and Ali soon learns that clues aren’t always what they seem. Will his detective work lead to a break in Gabe’s case or cause even more trouble for the Cross family?

Also by James Patterson

Middle School: The Worst Years of My Life

I Funny: A Middle School Story
Stuart Gibbs

Spy School is getting a graphic novel edition! Release date is set for February 2022.

Middle school boys highly recommend this mystery book series! This is the #1 book that most recommend to me when I ask! Click here to order the original paperback.

Ben Ripley may only be in middle school, but he’s already pegged his dream job: CIA or bust. Unfortunately for him, his personality doesn’t exactly scream “secret agent.” In fact, Ben is so awkward, he can barely get to school and back without a mishap. Because of his innate nerdiness, Ben is not surprised when he is recruited for a magnet school with a focus on science—but he’s entirely shocked to discover that the school is actually a front for a junior CIA academy. Could the CIA really want him?

Actually, no. There’s been a case of mistaken identity—but that doesn’t stop Ben from trying to morph into a supercool undercover agent, the kind that always gets the girl. And through a series of hilarious misadventures, Ben realizes he might actually be a halfway decent spy…if he can survive all the attempts being made on his life! With action-packed, eye-catching art, join Ben Ripley as he survives his first year at the Academy of Espionage.

Chris Grabenstein

When Kyle Keeley learns that the world’s world’s most famous game maker, Luigi Lemoncello, has designed the town’s new library and is having an invitation-only lock-in on opening night, Kyle is determined to be there! But the tricky part isn’t getting into the library—it’s getting out.

Because when morning comes, the doors stay locked. Kyle and the other kids must catch every clue and solve every puzzle to find the hidden escape route!

Pedro Urvi

Love epic fantasies with swords, sorcery and magic? Check out this awesome books series filled with mystery and intrigue for the fantasy lovers who also loves Lord of the Rings, Harry Potter and The Ranger’s Apprentice. 

A kingdom in danger, a great betrayal, a boy seeking to redeem his father’s honor. Will he succeed in his mission before it is too late for the whole North?

By the age of fifteen, Lasgol has endured a hard childhood and lives, cornered and hated, in a small village in the North. He is the son of the traitor, the man who betrayed the kingdom and tried to kill the King. His only companions are the mountains and the snow, ever-present in the region. Yet he refuses to believe that his father is guilty, even though the King himself was a witness to the betrayal.

Lasgol is determined to clear his father’s name, and to do this he was only a single option: the School of Rangers, a secret place where the respected and feared defenders of the lands of the kingdom are trained for four years. Going there is insane, hate and death await him. But as the son of a Ranger, he is entitled to attend.

At the Camp he will find himself involved in political intrigues, disloyalties and fights. He will encounter hatred and fearsome enemies, but also a handful of friends, novices as much out of place as he is himself, determined to do whatever is necessary to pass the first year… without dying in the attempt.

Will Lasgol survive the first year of instruction at the Rangers’ Camp? Will he find out what happened to his father? Will he be able to clear his name?

Kate Milford
It’s wintertime at Greenglass House. The creaky smuggler’s inn is always quiet during this season, and twelve-year-old Milo, the innkeepers’ adopted son, plans to spend his holidays relaxing. But on the first icy night of vacation, out of nowhere, the guest bell rings. Then rings again. And again. Soon Milo’s home is bursting with odd, secretive guests, each one bearing a strange story that is somehow connected to the rambling old house. As objects go missing and tempers flare, Milo and Meddy, the cook’s daughter, must decipher clues and untangle the web of deepening mysteries to discover the truth about Greenglass House—and themselves.
Sheila Turnage

This book is so so lovely. Mo is a wonderfully witty female protagonist who is sure to capture anyone’s heart.

Rising sixth grader Miss Moses LoBeau lives in the small town of Tupelo Landing, NC, where everyone’s business is fair game and no secret is sacred. She washed ashore in a hurricane eleven years ago, and she’s been making waves ever since. Although Mo hopes someday to find her “upstream mother,” she’s found a home with the Colonel–a café owner with a forgotten past of his own–and Miss Lana, the fabulous café hostess. She will protect those she loves with every bit of her strong will and tough attitude. So when a lawman comes to town asking about a murder, Mo and her best friend, Dale Earnhardt Johnson III, set out to uncover the truth in hopes of saving the only family Mo has ever known.

Trenton Lee Stewart

“Are you a gifted child looking for special opportunities?”

Dozens of children respond to this peculiar ad in the newspaper and are then put through a series of mind-bending tests, which readers take along with them. Only four children–two boys and two girls–succeed. Their challenge: to go on a secret mission that only the most intelligent and inventive children could complete.

To accomplish it they will have to go undercover at the Learning Institute for the Very Enlightened, where the only rule is that there are no rules. But what they’ll find in the hidden underground tunnels of the school is more than your average school supplies.

So, if you’re gifted, creative, or happen to know Morse Code, they could probably use your help.

Ellen Raskin

This book is #classic when it comes to mystery books for tweens! If you love illusion, word-play and full on clever entertainment, you will love this book!

A bizarre chain of events begins when sixteen unlikely people gather for the reading of Samuel W. Westing’s will. And though no one knows why the eccentric, game-loving millionaire has chosen a virtual stranger—and a possible murderer—to inherit his vast fortune, on things for sure: Sam Westing may be dead…but that won’t stop him from playing one last game!

Varian Johnson

When Candice finds a letter in an old attic in Lambert, South Carolina, she isn’t sure she should read it.

It’s addressed to her grandmother, who left the town in shame. But the letter describes a young woman. An injustice that happened decades ago. A mystery enfolding its writer. And the fortune that awaits the person who solves the puzzle. So with the help of Brandon, the quiet boy across the street, she begins to decipher the clues. The challenge will lead them deep into Lambert’s history, full of ugly deeds, forgotten heroes, and one great love; and deeper into their own families, with their own unspoken secrets. 

Can they find the fortune and fulfill the letter’s promise before the answers slip into the past yet again?

Rebecca Stead

Shortly after a fall-out with her best friend, sixth grader Miranda starts receiving mysterious notes, and she doesn’t know what to do. The notes tell her that she must write a letter—a true story, and that she can’t share her mission with anyone.
 
It would be easy to ignore the strange messages, except that whoever is leaving them has an uncanny ability to predict the future. If that is the case, then Miranda has a big problem—because the notes tell her that someone is going to die, and she might be too late to stop it.

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Margaret Peterson Haddix

The Greystone kids thought they knew. Chess has always been the protector over his younger siblings, Emma loves math, and Finn does what Finn does best—acting silly and being adored. They’ve been a happy family, just the three of them and their mom.

But everything changes when reports of three kidnapped children reach the Greystone kids, and they’re shocked by the startling similarities between themselves and these complete strangers. The other kids share their same first and middle names. They’re the same ages. They even have identical birthdays. Who, exactly, are these strangers?

Before Chess, Emma, and Finn can question their mom about it, she takes off on a sudden work trip and leaves them in the care of Ms. Morales and her daughter, Natalie. But puzzling clues left behind lead to complex codes, hidden rooms, and a dangerous secret that will turn their world upside down.

James Ponti

This mystery book is fun for the whole family. Just your wholesome, fun detective book that everyone is sure to fall in love with!

So you’re only halfway through your homework and the Director of the FBI keeps texting you for help…What do you do? Save your grade? Or save the country?

If you’re Florian Bates, you figure out a way to do both.

Jennifer Chambliss Bertman

For twelve-year-old Emily, the best thing about moving to San Francisco is that it’s the home city of her literary idol: Garrison Griswold, book publisher and creator of the online sensation Book Scavenger (a game where books are hidden in cities all over the country and clues to find them are revealed through puzzles).

Upon her arrival, however, Emily learns that Griswold has been attacked and is now in a coma, and no one knows anything about the epic new game he had been poised to launch. Then Emily and her new friend James discover an odd book, which they come to believe is from Griswold himself, and might contain the only copy of his mysterious new game.

Racing against time, Emily and James rush from clue to clue, desperate to figure out the secret at the heart of Griswold’s new game―before those who attacked Griswold come after them too.

Robin Stevens

Daisy Wells and Hazel Wong are best friends at Deepdean School for Girls, and they both have a penchant for solving mysteries. In fact, outspoken Daisy is a self-described Sherlock Holmes, and she appoints wallflower Hazel as her own personal Watson when they form their own (secret!) detective agency. The only problem? They have nothing to investigate.

But that changes once Hazel discovers the body of their science teacher, Miss Bell—and the body subsequently disappears. She and Daisy are certain a murder must have taken place, and they can think of more than one person with a motive.

Determined to get to the bottom of the crime—and to prove that it happened—before the killer strikes again, Hazel and Daisy must hunt for evidence, spy on their suspects, and use all the cunning, scheming, and intuition they can muster. But will they succeed? And can their friendship stand the test?

We hope you enjoyed this list of mystery books for tweens. Be on the look out for more mystery book lists in the future as we are diligently adding book lists based on demand. If you want to keep up to date with book recommendations, new releases and other bookish news related to middle grade books, sign up for our weekly email! Subscribe here or be on the look out for the the sign up form at the bottom of this page.

Take care and we’ll see you next time!

 

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