Mystery has always been a genre that captivates readers of all ages, and when it comes to teenagers, the allure of suspense, puzzles, and unexpected twists can be especially enticing.
Whether your young reader is an aspiring detective or simply enjoys the thrill of a good whodunit, we have compiled a list of some of the best mystery books tailored to the tastes of teens.
From thrilling page-turners to mind-bending mysteries, this curated selection offers a diverse array of stories that will keep adolescent readers on the edge of their seats, eager to solve the next enigma.
So, whether they prefer classic detective tales, supernatural suspense, or contemporary mysteries, there’s something here for every teen mystery enthusiast.
Dive into these captivating stories, and embark on a journey where secrets, clues, and the excitement of the unknown await around every corner.
45 Best Mystery Books For Teens
“One of Us Is Lying” by Karen M. McManus
Karen M. McManus’s “One of Us Is Lying” is a modern, gripping mystery novel that combines the intrigue of a whodunit with the dynamics of high school life.
The story unfolds when five students walk into detention, but only four come out alive. Each student is a stereotype—a brain, a beauty, a criminal, a jock, and an outcast—but they all have secrets.
When one of them dies under suspicious circumstances, the remaining four become suspects in a murder investigation. The book explores themes of trust, secrets, and the complexities of teenage interactions.
“A Study in Charlotte” by Brittany Cavallaro
“A Study in Charlotte” by Brittany Cavallaro reimagines the Sherlock Holmes universe for a younger audience.
The story follows Jamie Watson and Charlotte Holmes, descendants of the famous Dr. Watson and Sherlock Holmes, as they meet at a Connecticut boarding school. When a student they both have a grudge against dies under suspicious circumstances, Jamie and Charlotte are prime suspects.
The novel is a thrilling blend of classic Holmesian deduction and contemporary teenage drama, as the pair works to clear their names and solve the mystery.
“Truly Devious” by Maureen Johnson
Maureen Johnson’s “Truly Devious” is a captivating mystery novel set in the Ellingham Academy, an elite school for talented students.
The academy’s founder, Albert Ellingham, once said, “Learning is a game,” but it became notorious for a tragic event: the kidnapping and presumed murder of his wife and daughter in the 1930s, a crime that remains unsolved.
The protagonist, Stevie Bell, arrives at Ellingham with one goal: to solve this cold case. The story weaves between past and present as Stevie uncovers clues about the old mystery and confronts new dangers.
“The Inheritance Games” by Jennifer Lynn Barnes
“The Inheritance Games” by Jennifer Lynn Barnes tells the story of Avery Grambs, a teenager who unexpectedly inherits a fortune from billionaire Tobias Hawthorne, a man she never knew.
To receive her inheritance, Avery must move into the sprawling, mysterious Hawthorne House, where she meets Tobias’s four grandsons, who were disinherited.
The novel combines a high-stakes treasure hunt with complex family dynamics, as Avery must solve puzzles and uncover secrets hidden within the house to understand why she was chosen.
“Two Can Keep a Secret” by Karen M. McManus
In “Two Can Keep a Secret,” Karen M. McManus explores the secrets lurking in the small town of Echo Ridge. Ellery and her twin brother move to Echo Ridge to live with a grandmother they barely know.
The town is famous for the unsolved disappearance of a homecoming queen five years ago, and when another girl goes missing, Ellery finds herself embroiled in the mystery.
The novel is a suspenseful tale that delves into the darkness beneath a town’s surface, where everyone is a suspect and every suspect has a secret.
“The Name of the Star” by Maureen Johnson
“The Name of the Star” by Maureen Johnson is a thrilling paranormal mystery set in London.
Louisiana native Rory Deveaux arrives in London to attend boarding school just as a series of brutal murders mimicking the infamous Jack the Ripper killings begins.
Rory becomes involved in the case after a near-death experience and sighting the prime suspect—only to learn she’s the only one who can see him.
The book blends historical mystery with supernatural elements, creating a gripping story about a modern-day Ripper copycat.
“Paper Towns” by John Green
John Green’s “Paper Towns” is a unique blend of mystery, coming-of-age, and philosophical musings. The novel centers around Quentin Jacobsen and his enigmatic neighbor Margo Roth Spiegelman.
After an adventurous night pranking their high school peers, Margo disappears, leaving behind cryptic clues for Quentin.
As he and his friends embark on a journey to find her, the novel explores themes of identity, the complexities of human relationships, and the idea of idealization versus reality.
“The Westing Game” by Ellen Raskin
“The Westing Game,” authored by Ellen Raskin, is a classic mystery novel revered for its intricate plot and unique characters.
The story begins with the death of the wealthy Samuel W. Westing and the surprising terms of his will, which sets in motion a complex game for sixteen heirs. These heirs, who are seemingly unrelated, are grouped into pairs and given clues to solve the mystery of who murdered Westing.
This clever and engaging puzzle of a book combines humor, intelligence, and suspense, appealing to readers of all ages. It’s celebrated for its intricate plot twists and the depth of its characters.
“Gallagher Girls” series by Ally Carter
The “Gallagher Girls” series by Ally Carter introduces readers to a world where espionage and teenage life intertwine.
The series follows Cammie Morgan, a student at Gallagher Academy, a top-secret school for young female spies.
The novels blend typical teenage experiences—like friendships, romances, and school pressures—with unique challenges such as decoding ciphers and going on covert missions.
The series is known for its strong female characters, witty dialogue, and thrilling plots that provide a modern twist on the classic spy genre.
“Sadie” by Courtney Summers
Courtney Summers’ “Sadie” is a riveting and emotionally powerful novel blending mystery and drama.
The story is told through two intertwined narratives: a podcast, akin to real-life true crime series, and the first-person perspective of Sadie, a girl seeking revenge for her sister’s murder. As the podcast uncovers truths about the case, Sadie’s own journey becomes increasingly harrowing.
The novel’s exploration of themes like grief, justice, and resilience, combined with its innovative storytelling format, make it a standout in young adult literature.
“We Were Liars” by E. Lockhart
“We Were Liars” by E. Lockhart is a psychological mystery set against the backdrop of a privileged family spending their summers on a private island. The story is centered around Cadence Sinclair, who suffers from amnesia following a mysterious accident.
As she returns to the island two years later, fragmented memories and unsettling feelings begin to surface. The novel is acclaimed for its rich prose, the deep exploration of family dynamics, and its shocking twist. It’s a compelling tale about love, truth, and the power of memory.
“The Naturals” series by Jennifer Lynn Barnes
Jennifer Lynn Barnes’ “The Naturals” series introduces a unique concept where the FBI recruits gifted teenagers to help solve cold cases. The protagonist, Cassie, has a natural ability to read people. She joins other teens with similar extraordinary skills in a special program.
The series combines elements of crime, psychology, and the challenges of adolescence. Each book in the series centers around a different case, with overarching personal dramas and mysteries interwoven throughout. This series is well-regarded for its intelligent plotlines, well-developed characters, and the blend of teen life with forensic psychology.
“Sherlock Holmes” series by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle
The “Sherlock Holmes” series by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle is a cornerstone of detective literature.
Featuring the iconic detective Sherlock Holmes and his loyal friend Dr. John Watson, these stories set in Victorian London are celebrated for their ingenious plots, meticulous deduction, and the dynamic between the main characters.
The series includes novels like “A Study in Scarlet” and “The Hound of the Baskervilles,” and numerous short stories. These tales have defined and shaped the mystery genre and continue to be a source of fascination and inspiration for readers of all ages.
“The Diviners” by Libba Bray
Libba Bray’s “The Diviners” is a supernatural mystery set in 1920s New York City. The story follows Evie O’Neill, a young woman with a secret ability, as she becomes entangled in a series of occult-based murders.
The novel is rich in historical detail and weaves in elements of horror, fantasy, and mystery. It’s known for its atmospheric setting, diverse cast of characters, and the exploration of social themes relevant to the era.
The combination of a gripping plot and the vivid portrayal of the Roaring Twenties makes “The Diviners” a compelling read.
“A Good Girl’s Guide to Murder” by Holly Jackson
“A Good Girl’s Guide to Murder” by Holly Jackson is a contemporary mystery novel that follows high school senior Pippa Fitz-Amobi as she investigates a closed murder case for her final year project.
Five years earlier, Andie Bell was murdered by Sal Singh, or so everyone in town believes. Pippa, who knew Sal, suspects there’s more to the story. As she delves deeper, she uncovers secrets that someone in town desperately wants to remain hidden.
The novel is praised for its clever plot, engaging narrative style, and the protagonist’s tenacity. It’s a fresh take on the murder mystery genre, appealing to a young adult audience.
“The Girl I Used to Be” by April Henry
“The Girl I Used to Be” by April Henry is a gripping young adult mystery novel.
The story revolves around Olivia, whose life was shattered as a child when her mother was murdered and she was found alone in a supermarket. For years, everyone believed her father was responsible, but his body is recently discovered, upending everything Olivia thought she knew.
Now a teenager, she returns to her hometown to solve the mystery of her parents’ deaths. The novel is lauded for its intense pacing, well-crafted suspense, and the strong, resourceful character of Olivia. It’s a compelling read for those who enjoy psychological thrillers and crime mysteries.
“City of Saints & Thieves” by Natalie C. Anderson
Natalie C. Anderson’s “City of Saints & Thieves” is a thrilling young adult novel set in Kenya. The story follows Tina, a Congolese refugee, who becomes a street-savvy thief in the city of Sangui.
Her primary goal is to avenge her mother’s murder, which she believes was orchestrated by her wealthy and influential former employer. As Tina delves deeper into the dangerous world of the Kenyan elite and the city’s criminal underbelly, she uncovers shocking family secrets and a conspiracy much bigger than she imagined.
This book is noted for its richly detailed setting, complex characters, and a plot that is both a gripping mystery and a poignant exploration of issues like corruption, poverty, and refugee life.
“I am Princess X” by Cherie Priest
“I am Princess X” by Cherie Priest is a unique blend of mystery, graphic novel, and coming-of-age story.
The narrative centers around Libby and May, best friends who create a comic character named Princess X.
When Libby dies in a car accident, May is left devastated. Years later, she starts seeing stickers and merchandise of Princess X around the city, leading her to a webcomic that seems to tell the story of Libby’s death and hints that she might still be alive.
May’s quest to uncover the truth is a thrilling adventure that combines real-life detective work with the fantasy world of the comic.
The novel is praised for its creativity, engaging plot, and the seamless integration of graphic novel elements into the story.
“Confessions of a Murder Suspect” by James Patterson and Maxine Paetro
“Confessions of a Murder Suspect” is a novel by James Patterson and Maxine Paetro. The story revolves around Tandy Angel, who wakes up to find her wealthy parents dead and no memory of the night’s events. As the police investigation unfolds, Tandy and her siblings become the prime suspects.
Determined to clear their names and uncover the truth, Tandy begins her own investigation, revealing family secrets, hidden motives, and unspoken truths.
The book stands out for its fast-paced narrative, complex characters, and the unique perspective of Tandy, who is both a suspect and a detective in her parents’ murder.
“Nancy Drew” series by Carolyn Keene
The “Nancy Drew” series, penned by various authors under the pseudonym Carolyn Keene, is a cornerstone of mystery literature for young readers. The series features Nancy Drew, a brilliant teenage sleuth who solves perplexing mysteries.
Nancy’s character, defined by her intelligence, courage, and resourcefulness, has inspired generations since the series began in the 1930s.
The books typically involve Nancy tackling complex puzzles, uncovering secrets, and outwitting criminals, all while balancing the challenges of teenage life.
“Monday’s Not Coming” by Tiffany D. Jackson
“Monday’s Not Coming” by Tiffany D. Jackson is a powerful and heart-wrenching novel. The story follows Claudia, a teenager whose best friend, Monday, goes missing.
As Claudia tries to find out what happened, she realizes that no one else seems to be concerned about Monday’s disappearance.
The narrative delves into themes of friendship, neglect, and the overlooked tragedies of missing Black youth.
Jackson’s portrayal of Claudia’s desperation and determination in her search for the truth, set against the backdrop of a community that seems to have forgotten Monday, makes for a compelling and emotionally resonant read.
“The Disreputable History of Frankie Landau-Banks” by E. Lockhart
“The Disreputable History of Frankie Landau-Banks” by E. Lockhart is a clever and subversive novel that combines elements of mystery, romance, and a critique of societal norms.
Frankie Landau-Banks, the protagonist, is a sophomore at an elite boarding school. She becomes involved with a secret, all-male society at the school and decides to infiltrate and manipulate it from the inside, challenging the gender norms and power structures of the institution.
The book is celebrated for its witty and sharp narrative, complex female protagonist, and its exploration of themes like feminism, power, and identity.
“The Mystery of Black Hollow Lane” by Julia Nobel
“The Mystery of Black Hollow Lane” by Julia Nobel is a middle-grade mystery novel that combines elements of adventure and suspense.
The story follows Emmy, who is sent to a boarding school in England where she discovers her father’s mysterious past is linked to a secret society. As Emmy and her new friends investigate, they find themselves delving into a world of danger and ancient secrets.
The novel is praised for its engaging plot, well-developed characters, and the effective blend of school life with the intrigue of a historical mystery.
“The Lovely and the Lost” by Jennifer Lynn Barnes
“The Lovely and the Lost” by Jennifer Lynn Barnes is a thrilling young adult mystery novel. The story centers around Kira, who was found as a child in the woods with no memory of her past.
She’s adopted by a woman who trains search-and-rescue dogs and becomes skilled at the task herself. The plot intensifies when Kira and her family take on a case of a missing child in the wilderness, bringing back fragments of her lost memories.
This novel is praised for its gripping storyline, complex characters, and the unique backdrop of search-and-rescue operations. It explores themes of family, trauma, and the journey to self-discovery.
“Little Monsters” by Kara Thomas
“Little Monsters” by Kara Thomas is a dark and twisty young adult thriller. The story follows Kacey, a troubled teen who moves to a small town in Wisconsin to live with her father and his new family.
She quickly befriends a group of girls, but things turn sinister when one of them goes missing after a seance. The book delves into the investigation of the disappearance, revealing secrets, lies, and the dark side of teenage friendships.
“Little Monsters” is known for its suspenseful plot, psychological depth, and the exploration of the complexities of human relationships.
“13 Little Blue Envelopes” by Maureen Johnson
“13 Little Blue Envelopes” by Maureen Johnson combines mystery with a coming-of-age story. When Ginny receives thirteen blue envelopes from her deceased aunt, she is sent on an unexpected journey across Europe.
Each envelope provides instructions for the next step of her trip, leading her to new adventures and self-discovery. The novel is a blend of travelogue, mystery, and personal growth, as Ginny learns about life, love, and embracing the unknown.
The story is praised for its heartwarming narrative, vivid descriptions of European locales, and the emotional depth of Ginny’s journey.
“Jackaby” by William Ritter
“Jackaby” by William Ritter is a unique historical fantasy mystery. Set in 1892, it follows R.F. Jackaby, a detective with the ability to see supernatural beings, and his new assistant, Abigail Rook.
Together, they investigate a series of unexplained murders in New England, which Jackaby believes to be the work of a non-human creature.
The novel is a blend of Sherlock Holmes-style deduction and paranormal adventure, filled with witty dialogue, intriguing characters, and a richly imagined world. It’s well-regarded for its engaging storytelling and the blend of mystery with fantasy elements.
“The Agatha Christie Mystery Collection” by Agatha Christie
“The Agatha Christie Mystery Collection” is a compilation of novels by the renowned mystery writer Agatha Christie.
This collection showcases Christie’s talent for crafting intricate puzzles, memorable characters, and unexpected plot twists. It typically includes some of her most famous works like “Murder on the Orient Express,” “And Then There Were None,” and “The Murder of Roger Ackroyd.”
Christie’s novels are celebrated for their timeless appeal, the brilliance of detectives like Hercule Poirot and Miss Marple, and their profound influence on the mystery genre.
“Death Prefers Blondes” by Caleb Roehrig
“Death Prefers Blondes” by Caleb Roehrig is a high-stakes young adult thriller.
The novel centers on Margo Manning, a wealthy socialite by day and a daring cat burglar by night, along with her team of drag queen accomplices.
Their criminal escapades take a dangerous turn when they find themselves in the middle of a heist gone wrong.
This book is known for its fast-paced action, witty dialogue, and diverse cast of characters. It combines elements of heist, suspense, and LGBTQ+ themes, making it a fresh and exhilarating read in the young adult mystery genre.
“The Secret Keepers” by Trenton Lee Stewart
“The Secret Keepers” by Trenton Lee Stewart is a captivating middle-grade mystery novel. The story revolves around Reuben, a young boy who discovers an extraordinary watch with hidden powers.
As he delves into the mystery of the watch, he uncovers a secret that puts him at odds with a sinister figure who seeks the watch for his own nefarious purposes.
Set in a vividly described city filled with hidden alleys and secret doors, the book is celebrated for its imaginative plot, well-developed characters, and themes of friendship, courage, and the battle against tyranny.
Stewart, known for “The Mysterious Benedict Society” series, delivers another engaging and thought-provoking story.
“The Screaming Staircase” by Jonathan Stroud
“The Screaming Staircase” is the first book in Jonathan Stroud’s “Lockwood & Co.” series, set in an alternate London overrun by ghosts. The story follows Lucy Carlyle, a talented young psychic investigator, who joins Lockwood & Co., a small, independent agency run by the charismatic Anthony Lockwood.
Together with their colleague George, they take on dangerous assignments to rid haunted locations of their ghostly inhabitants. The novel is known for its thrilling blend of horror, mystery, and humor, with engaging characters and a well-built supernatural world.
“The Conspiracy of Us” by Maggie Hall
“The Conspiracy of Us” by Maggie Hall is an action-packed thriller that combines mystery with a global conspiracy. The story revolves around Avery West, whose life changes dramatically when she learns she’s part of a powerful secret society known as the Circle.
Thrust into a world of glittering gowns and priceless jewels, Avery travels from the United States to Istanbul, Paris, and beyond, uncovering family secrets and a conspiracy that could trigger a global war. This novel is celebrated for its fast pace, intricate plot, and the blend of romance and adventure.
“The Amelia Six” by Kristin L. Gray
Kristin L. Gray’s “The Amelia Six” is a mystery novel centered around six clever girls who are invited to a sleepover at Amelia Earhart’s childhood home. When a pair of Amelia’s goggles go missing, the girls must work together to find the thief among them.
The story combines historical elements related to Amelia Earhart with a fun, modern-day detective story.
It’s a tale of friendship, teamwork, and the empowerment of young girls, filled with intrigue and nods to a pioneering female aviator.
“The Shadows” by Alex North
“The Shadows” by Alex North is a psychological thriller that delves into the realm of nightmares and dark pasts.
The novel follows Paul Adams, who returns to his hometown after 25 years to care for his ailing mother. Haunted by a traumatic event involving his childhood friends and a murder, Paul must confront the shadows of his past.
The book intertwines past and present narratives, creating a chilling atmosphere and a complex web of secrets and suspense. It’s known for its eerie setting, intricate plot, and the exploration of how past traumas shape our lives.
“The Vanishing Stair” by Maureen Johnson
“The Vanishing Stair” is the second book in Maureen Johnson’s “Truly Devious” series.
Continuing the story of Stevie Bell, a student at the elite Ellingham Academy who is determined to solve the historical Ellingham case, this installment deepens the mystery.
When new clues emerge, Stevie is pulled back into the investigation with more determination than ever. The novel is acclaimed for its clever intertwining of two timelines, the development of its complex characters, and the escalating suspense that keeps readers eagerly turning the pages.
“The Cheerleaders” by Kara Thomas
“The Cheerleaders” by Kara Thomas is a gripping young adult mystery novel. Five years ago, a series of tragic events took the lives of five cheerleaders in the small town of Sunnybrook.
Now, Monica, the sister of one of the cheerleaders, starts to uncover disturbing secrets and inconsistencies about what happened.
The novel explores themes of grief, the search for truth, and the dark underbelly of a town’s history. It’s known for its compelling narrative, realistic portrayal of teenage life, and a plot that keeps readers guessing until the very end.
“Killing November” by Adriana Mather
“Killing November” by Adriana Mather is a thrilling young adult novel set in a secretive boarding school called Academy Absconditi.
The protagonist, November, finds herself in this school with no understanding of why she’s there. The students are trained in the art of espionage, assassination, and manipulation. When a student is murdered, November becomes a prime suspect.
The novel is a blend of mystery, action, and a touch of romance, set in a dark, intriguing world where every student hides a myriad of secrets. It’s celebrated for its unique setting, fast-paced plot, and strong, resourceful heroine.
“The Da Vinci Code” (Young Adult Adaptation) by Dan Brown
“The Da Vinci Code” Young Adult Adaptation by Dan Brown is a reimagined version of his bestselling novel, tailored for younger readers.
This adaptation follows the thrilling adventure of symbologist Robert Langdon and cryptologist Sophie Neveu as they unravel a series of puzzles and secrets linked to a mysterious society and the works of Leonardo da Vinci.
Set against the backdrop of European art history, this fast-paced mystery blends historical facts with fiction, inviting young readers into a world of intrigue and suspense.
“Alone” by Cyn Balog
“Alone” by Cyn Balog is a psychological thriller that explores themes of isolation and fear.
The story follows Seda, a teenager who finds herself trapped in her family’s eerie, remote mansion after a blizzard. When a group of stranded teenagers arrives seeking shelter, the mansion’s haunted past comes to life. Seda is forced to confront the dark secrets of the house and her own mind.
The novel is known for its chilling atmosphere, intricate plot, and the exploration of the blurred lines between reality and illusion.
“The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time” by Mark Haddon
“The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time” by Mark Haddon is a unique and compelling mystery novel.
Narrated by Christopher Boone, a 15-year-old boy with autism, the story begins with his discovery of a neighbor’s dog, Wellington, who has been mysteriously killed. Christopher embarks on a journey to solve the mystery, which leads him to uncover secrets about his own family.
The novel is praised for its insightful portrayal of Christopher’s perspective, its heartwarming yet challenging narrative, and the blend of a detective story with a profound exploration of human relationships and individual differences.
“All the Bright Places” by Jennifer Niven
“All the Bright Places” by Jennifer Niven is a poignant young adult novel that delves into themes of mental health, grief, and the transformative power of love.
The story is about Violet Markey and Theodore Finch, who meet and connect on the ledge of a bell tower at their school. Both struggle with their own emotional pain and find solace in each other’s company.
As they partner on a project exploring the natural wonders of their state, they learn important lessons about life, love, and coping with inner turmoil. The novel is celebrated for its sensitive handling of difficult topics, its captivating characters, and its impact on raising mental health awareness.
“The Hardy Boys” series by Franklin W. Dixon
Similar to the “Nancy Drew” series, “The Hardy Boys” series, written by various authors under the pseudonym Franklin W. Dixon, is a beloved collection of mystery books aimed at young readers.
The series follows the adventures of brothers Frank and Joe Hardy, who are amateur detectives. The Hardy Boys are known for their unwavering dedication to justice, their knack for solving challenging cases, and their ability to get out of dangerous situations.
From uncovering local mysteries to thwarting international spies, their stories have engaged readers since the series’ inception in the 1920s.
“Legend” by Marie Lu
“Legend” by Marie Lu is a dystopian thriller set in a divided future America. The story is told through the perspectives of two protagonists: June, a prodigy born into an elite family in a wealthy district, and Day, the country’s most wanted criminal who hails from the slums.
Their paths cross when June’s brother is murdered, and Day becomes the prime suspect.
As June seeks revenge and uncovers the truth, she learns of the corruption and injustice in her society. The novel is known for its fast-paced action, well-developed characters, and its exploration of themes like inequality, loyalty, and the quest for truth.
“Six of Crows” by Leigh Bardugo
“Six of Crows” by Leigh Bardugo is a fantasy heist novel set in the Grishaverse.
The story revolves around Kaz Brekker, a cunning criminal prodigy, who is offered a chance at a deadly heist that could make him rich beyond his wildest dreams.
To pull it off, he assembles a crew of six outcasts, each with their own unique skill and past.
The novel is celebrated for its complex characters, intricate world-building, and a plot that is both high-stakes and emotionally resonant. It explores themes of survival, morality, and the bonds formed in adversity.
“The Maze Runner” series by James Dashner
“The Maze Runner” series by James Dashner is a bestselling dystopian science fiction saga.
The story begins with Thomas, who wakes up in a lift with no memory of his past, arriving in the Glade, an enclosed environment surrounded by a gigantic maze.
He and other teenagers, known as Gladers, must navigate this labyrinth, filled with dangerous creatures and obstacles, to find their way to freedom.
The series is acclaimed for its intense pacing, thrilling action, and the mysteries surrounding the maze and the world beyond it.
It delves into themes of memory, identity, and the human capacity for resilience and cooperation.