Best detective stories for kids
Get your magnifying glass out and your thinking cap on: our selection of the best detective stories and books for kids will keep you guessing until the very last page! With plots to uncover, mysteries to solve and codes to break you'll need to work hard to join the best junior detectives and super-smart sleuths in children's literature.
Harriet the Spy by Louise Fitzhugh(£6.99, HarperCollins Children's Books)
A modern classic about finding your place in the world, growing up and the dangers of taking notes about people you know (and getting caught!). A fantastic read with a great, flawed heroine.
Basil of Baker Street by Eve Titus(£4.55, Aladdin)
The first in the Great Mouse Detective series, perfect for newly independent readers. Basil, famous investigator of mousedom, learned his craft living in Sherlock Holmes' cellar. Crumbs of clues are all he needs to solve his cases!
A Girl Called Justice by Elly Griffiths(£6.99, Quercus Children's Books)
In the first children's novel from best-selling adult crime author Elly Griffiths, super-smart super-sleuth Justice Jones has a spine-tingling first term at Highbury House Boarding School for the Daughters of Gentlefolk.
Dead Man's Cove by Lauren St John(£6.99, Orion)
Eleven-year-old Laura moves from a children's home to live with her uncle in Cornwall and longs for a life of excitement like the mysteries she reads about in detective novels. First in the award-winning series about Laura Marlin, ace detective.
DNA Detectives: To Catch a Thief by Amanda Hartley(£6.99, SJH Group)
Annabelle and Harry's dog has gone missing, but with some help from their scientist mum, the pair turn DNA detectives and use forensic science to get her back! A "whodunnit" with added science learning.
Emil And The Detectives by Erich Kästner(£5.99, Red Fox)
Join Emil Tischbein on an enthralling adventure through 1920s Berlin as he teams up with a gang of child detectives to retrieve money that's been stolen from him. A classic story that's perfect to read aloud as a family.
Look into my eyes by Lauren Child(£6.99, HarperCollins Children's Books)
There is no cooler teen sleuth than Ruby Redfort, genius code-cracker and gadget-laden special agent. Solve puzzles alongside Ruby and her slick sidekick, Hitch, and dream of being as witty and wonderful as this daring detective.
Murder Most Unladylike by Robin Stevens(£6.99, Puffin)
When Daisy and Hazel first set up their own secret detective agency, they struggle to find any mysteries more exciting than missing uniform to investigate. Then they see a body in the school gym... or do they? First in a super-successful detective series.
Precious and the Monkeys by Alexander McCall Smith(£3.85, Polygon)
If you are a Number One Ladies Detective Agency fan, don't miss these children's stories about Precious Ramotswe's life as an eight-year-old solving mysteries. We love the gorgeous illustrations, too.
Rory Branagan (Detective) by Andrew Clover(£6.99, HarperCollins Children's Books)
Rory Branagan: the best detective in town if you're deciphering clues involving cats, wheelie bins and head teachers. A fast and funny comedy-crime series for children aged 8+, with black and white illustrations on every page.
Shifty McGifty and Slippery Sam: The Missing Masterpiece by Tracey Corderoy and Steven Lenton(£6.99, Nosy Crow)
Great rhymes, great characters and great mysteries: the Shifty and Sam picture books are packed with fantastic illustrations and adult in-jokes. Perfect for bedtime reading.
The Falcon's Malteser by Anthony Horowitz(£6.99, Walker Books)
By the author of the best-selling Alex Rider secret agent series, the books about the Diamond Brothers (the world's worst private detectives) are wonderfully witty and great fun (even if you're rather older than the target age range!).
The London Eye Mystery by Siobhan Dowd(£6.99, Puffin)
At 11.32, Ted and his sister watch their cousin Salim get on board the London Eye and sail up into the sky. Half an hour later the pod lands and the doors open. Everyone exits – except Salim. The police are baffled; it's up to Ted to solve the mystery and find his cousin.
The Mysterious Benedict Society by Trenton Lee Stewart(£6.99, Chicken House)
Reynie, Kate, Sticky and Constance: honest, talented kids who must go undercover at the Learning Institute for the Very Enlightened and work as a team to save not just themselves but the whole world. An eccentric, addictive adventure series.
Potkin and Stubbs by Sophie Green(£6.99, Piccadilly Press)
A debut detective story filled with ghoulish goings-on and starring an unusual investigative duo, aspiring journalist Lil and ghost-boy Nedly. Can they found out what happened to Nedly after he disappeared from his orphanage – even though no-one but Lil can actually see him?
The Ruby in the Smoke by Philip Pullman(£7.99, Scholastic)
The first book in Philip Pullman's Sally Lockhart quartet about a girl investigating her father's death in the dark slums of Victorian London. Complete with dastardly villains, a blood-soaked jewel and an enterprising heroine, it's a great, melodramatic adventure.
The Secret Key by Lena Jones(£6.99, HarperCollins Children's Books)
Stylish detective series Agatha Oddly plays tribute to murder mystery queen Agatha Christie with stories set around London landmarks. The Secret Key and Murder at the Museum see thirteen-year-old Agatha uncovering strange goings-on deep below the city in a network of underground tunnels...
The Secret Seven: Book 1 by Enid Blyton(£6.99, Hodder Children's Books)
Enid Blyton's much-loved detective club introduced generations of adults to the delights of mystery stories. New editions of the 15 original titles are illustrated by Tony Ross and come with bonus puzzles and quizzes; new additions to the series, written by award-winning author Pamela Butchart, are also available.
A Sticky Situation (The Trapdoor Mysteries) by Abie Longstaff(£6.99, Little Brown)
In The Trapdoor Mysteries series Tally, a code-breaking Victorian servant girl, and her best friend, Squill the squirrel, solve mysteries with the help of a secret library. Lots of illustrations make the books perfect for newly independent readers who will love solving codes alongside the characters.
Anisha, Accidental Detective by Serena Patel
(£6.99, Usborne Publishing)It's the day before Aunty Bindi's wedding when Anisha receives a ransom note for her soon-to-be-Uncle Tony. Can she and her best friend Milo rescue him in time for the ceremony and avert panic central before her super-dramatic family find out what's going on? Time for Birmingham's accidental detective to save the day!
Legend of the Star Runner by J I Wagner(£9.99, Freshabooks)
A "solve it yourself" mystery for kids aged 8 to 12, this adventure book is divided into 31 concise chapters, each of which ends with a puzzle to be solved by decoding the visual clues hidden in the full-colour illustration. Timmi Tobbson and his friends are racing to unravel family secrets and save a dear friend, but they only have twenty-four hours to solve the case of a long-lost pirate ship, buried somewhere deep beneath the city streets.
The Clockwork Sparrow by Katherine Woodfine(£6.99, Egmont)
The first in the Sinclair's Mysteries books is a fast-paced historical mystery for readers aged 9+, set in Edwardian times. Sophie Taylor discovers she has a talent for detective work. From high society balls to the docks of the East End, she and her friends solve mysteries ranging from a missing diamond to a stolen painting in 1909 London. But their work brings them into the path of a sinister villain who calls himself ‘The Baron’…
Pierre the Maze Detective: The Search for the Stolen Maze Stone by Hiro Kamigaki(£14.99, Laurence King Publishing)
The clues in the Pierre the Maze Detective books are in the form of intricate, magical mazes, not words. Trace your way through underground cities, hot-air balloons, tree-top towns and haunted houses to solve challenges and help Pierre stop his nemesis Mr X before it's too late! Hours of puzzle fun, guaranteed.