Top Mystery Books

Updated February 21, 2017 | Factmonster Staff

Warning: Don’t crack open these books if you’re eager for a good night’s sleep. These page-turners are impossible to put down!

Bernie Magruder series

Bernie and Magruder: The Parachute Peril

by Phyllis Reynolds Naylor
Bernie Magruder, who lives at the Besseldorf Hotel with his eccentric family, often solves the mysteries that plague Middleburg, Indiana, faster than the local police. It’s a good thing that Bernie’s such a gifted gumshoe; his father runs the hotel and bad press about his town keeps visitors away.

The Boys of San Joaquin
by D. James Smith
Paolo, his brother, and their deaf cousin go on a quest to track down the other half of a $20 bill they find in the mouth of Paolo’s dog, and learn a lot about life and making the right choices along the way.

Chasing Vermeer
by Blue Balliet
Sixth graders Petra and Calder, who share a love of art and blue M&Ms, put their heads together to figure out who has stolen a Vermeer painting. They give their minds a serious workout as they try to untangle a series of puzzling clues the thief has left in the newspaper.

Chet Gecko series
by Bruce Hale
Chet Gecko, a hilarious wisecracking 4th grade lizard detective with an enormous appetite for such sumptuous snacks as Lice Krispie Treats, partners up with Natalie Attired, a mockingbird, to solve some of Emerson Hickey Elementary School’s most baffling mysteries.

Encyclopedia Brown series

Encyclopedia Brownand the Case of the Mysterious Handprints

by Donald J. Sobol
Leroy Brown, aptly nicknamed Encyclopedia, uses his sharp ear and keen intelligence to find every clue and detect every flaw in a culprit’s story. He and his father, the chief of police of Idaville, work together to crack the toughest cases.

From the Mixed-Up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler

From the Mixed-Up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler

by E. L. Konigsburg
Feeling unappreciated by her parents, spunky Claudia Kincaid runs away to the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York City. Her brother, Jamie, joins her, and they become enthralled by a statue of an angel. Determined to discover the identity of the statue’s maker, Claudia and Jamie embark on an adventure that leads them to the home of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler, the previous owner of the statue.

The Egypt Game
by Zilpha Keatley Snyder
Six kids from different backgrounds and cultures share one thing in common: a love of ancient Egypt. They gather in a vacant lot and create an elaborate role-playing game that soon becomes all too real.

Herculeah Jones series
by Betsy Byars
Herculeah Jones uses the sleuthing skills she has picked up from her parents (a private detective mother and police officer father) to solve every crime that comes her way. She is as strong and courageous as her name suggests when confronted with dangerous—and sometimes potentially deadly—situations.

Lady Grace Mysteries
by Lady Patricia Finney
Set in 1569, Lady Grace Cavendish, a spirited 13-year-old maid of honor to Queen Elizabeth I, solves the many intriguing mysteries that perplex the queen’s court. The series offers readers a peek at Elizabethan life and culture.

Lewis Barnavelt series
by John Bellairs
After his parents die, Lewis Barnavelt moves into his uncle’s mysterious mansion. A big fan of magic, Lewis is thrilled to learn that Uncle Jonathan is a lovable wizard. Lewis, Jonathan, Mrs. Zimmerman—their neighbor, who’s a witch–and Lewis’s friend Rose Rita encounter downright spooky mysteries and plot to outwit forces of evil.

The Name of the Game Was Murder
by Joan Lowery Nixon
Augustus Trevor, a successful writer, has written a book that details the scandalous secrets of several celebrities. He invites them to his house and promises to edit them out of the manuscript if they can solve a puzzle. When Augustus is murdered, his 15-year-old niece is determined to find the killer.

Nancy Drew series

Nancy Drew Mystery: The Secret of the Old Clock

by Carolyn Keene
Nancy Drew, a plucky amateur detective, tackles her own cases and helps her father, an attorney, with his. Using her curiosity, intelligence, and bravery, Nancy gets to the bottom of the most perplexing mysteries.

Sammy Keyes series
By Wendelin Van Draanen
Sammy Keyes deals with many problems common to seventh graders: school cliques, detention, an archenemy. She also faces some not-so-typical issues: Sammy lives with her grandmother in a retirement community while her mother chases her dream in Hollywood. Unlike most other middle-schoolers, however, Sammy has a knack for solving crimes. Quick-thinking and daring, Sammy gets to the bottom of every case.

The Westing Game

The Westing Game

By Ellen Raskin
Millionaire Sam Westing meets an untimely death at his mansion. At the reading of his will, Westing’s quirky heirs are invited to participate in a game to unravel the mysterious circumstances of his death. They have plenty of incentive: whoever solves the puzzling crime will inherit Westing’s $200 million fortune.
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