Those Pesky Kids: Our Favorite Sleuthing Teens

From Scooby Doo to Nancy Drew, mystery solving is something so many of us have loved since we were little kids. But we’re not wee ones anymore, and the bold, brave sleuths of YA lit face twists, turns, gore, betrayal, terror, and heartbreak as they embark on solving mysteries the pros in power won’t…or can’t. Those who underestimate the intelligence and observational powers of teens in these books are doomed to be made fools, but then, that’s just part of the fun.

A Study in Charlotte, by Brittany Cavallaro
Charlotte Holmes and Jamie Watson know the expectations are high when you’re descendants of the famed literary greats, but they’re more than ready to live up to them, especially when they finally meet at boarding school for the first time. Jamie is fascinated by the talented but reclusive Holmes, whose brilliant brain and painful past make it challenging for her to connect with others. But when a mystery lands at their feet that they have no choice but to solve, they’ll prove they’re every bit the skilled team the originals were. This is hands-down one of my favorite series in contemporary YA, and if you haven’t yet made the acquaintance of this killer duo, do yourself a favor and get on board before the final book, The Case for Jamie, hits shelves in March.

Trouble is a Friend of Mine, by Stephanie Tromly
Digby is a ridiculous human being; there’s no way around it. Zoe has no expectation of entertaining the zany boy who shows up at her door, but something about him is just too compelling to resist. Suddenly, she’s joining him on a quest to solve the mystery of a missing classmate, as well as the disappearance of his own sister eight years ago. The fact that “boundaries” is kind of a foreign concept to Digby means Zoe’s getting dragged into absurd, impossible, and often illegal situations. But the more time they spend together, the less she would ever dream of leaving his side, no matter how complicated things get. And when you fall utterly in love with this smart and funny mystery, you’ll be delighted to learn that there’s more where that came from.

Lock & Mori, by Heather W. Petty
YA is uncannily good at Sherlock adaptations, but while most play with Sherlock-Watson combos, Petty’s debut trilogy, which comes to a close with this month’s Final Fall, tackles the infamous enemies. But oh, they don’t start off that way; on the contrary, in this season opener, Lock and Mori find themselves in a friendly competition to solve the murder of the father of one of their classmates, with the rule that they must share everything they learn. But when Mori learns evidence that points to her own mother, all bets are off, even as the two get closer.

Every Breath, by Ellie Marney
Rachel Watts has only been in Melbourne a few months, having moved to the city after her family’s farm went under, and she doesn’t like it…but she has, for the first time in her life, found her people. In this case, that means Kai, Kai’s boyfriend, and Rachel’s puzzling, complicated, mostly antisocial, obsessive, brilliant, inscrutable, and sexy neighbor, (James) Mycroft. Going over to Mycroft’s house at night to bring him dinner, and then going together to bring extra food to Mycroft’s friend, Homeless Dave, has become something of a ritual for them. But when their latest visit leads them to find Dave with his throat slit, it sends them down the rabbit hole of trying to solve the case no one else will.

Stalking Jack the Ripper, by Kerri Maniscalco
Audrey Rose knows that as an Aristocratic lady, she’s supposed to be into tea parties and husband-hunting, but despite her appreciation for fashion, there’s nothing she loves more than forensic science. Lucky for her, it’s a passion of her father’s estranged brother’s as well, and Audrey Rose gets plenty of practice in Uncle Jonathan’s laboratory…especially now that someone is killing women of the night, providing perfect specimens for autopsies. It’s there she meets smug, overly observant, oddly charming Thomas Cresswell, the only peer she’s ever met who appreciates and shares her morbid scientific curiosities. Together, they attempt to hunt down the man the media eventually comes to call Jack the Ripper, even as the case starts to hit frighteningly close to home.

Fake ID, by Lamar Giles
You might think you know Nick Pearson, but that’s not even his real name. That’s what happens when you’re in the Witness Protection Program; you get a whole new identity that’s supposed to keep you safe, even when your father stays up to his old tricks. This time, Nick feels good about where he’s at, especially thanks to his new friend Eli Cruz. Then Eli turns up dead, and Nick knows it’s not the suicide the police are claiming, especially since before he died, Eli had been trying to draw Nick in to his own investigation on shady dealings. Nick’s not the only one who suspects there’s more to the story, either. He’s supposed to be staying under the radar, but with Eli’s hot sister, Reya, every bit as suspicious as he is, getting on the case is just too difficult for Nick to resist. The question is, will he make it out alive?

Ink and Ashes, by Valynne E. Maetani
Claire and her brothers have always believed that their father died of a heart attack a decade earlier, but suddenly, everything seems suspect when she comes across a letter that proves that he knew their stepfather. After all, there’s no reason for everyone to have kept that a secret, right? But then she learns her father was a member of the yakuza, and there are a whole lot of reasons to keep quiet when that’s the case. Now, Claire is determined to uncover the truth behind his death and whether her mother has simply brought another member into the family, no matter the danger that solving the mystery may bring.

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