The best middle grade mysteries to keep you reading all night

Who am I?

I’m the author of eleven novels for young readers (so far!). I’m also a lifelong bookworm, and I’ve got a special love for all things creepy, fantastical, and odd. Growing up, I adored mysteries from Scooby-Doo to Sherlock Holmes, and you could often find me hiding under the covers with a stack of books and a flashlight long after I should have been asleep. Here are five more recent middle-grade mysteries that I've loved. If they’d been around when I was a kid, they would have kept me up hours past my bedtime.  

I wrote...

Long Lost

By Jacqueline West,

Book cover of Long Lost

What is my book about?

For the sake of her sister’s figure skating career, Fiona Crane’s family has just moved to Lost Lake, Massachusetts—a tiny, unwelcoming town of old houses, old forests, and old secrets. Lonely and out of place, Fiona ventures to the library, a rambling mansion once owned by a long-dead local heiress.

That’s where Fiona finds the book. The old mystery novel about another pair of sisters, another small town, and an unsolved disappearance. Soon Fiona begins to notice eerie connections between the novel and Lost Lake itself. Before she can reach the end, the book disappears. But Fiona knows it was leading her toward something. Something that was lost long ago, and that’s waiting to be found. Maybe it’s been waiting just for her.  

The books I picked & why

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One Came Home

By Amy Timberlake,

Book cover of One Came Home

Why this book?

Everything about this book is stellar: the haunting descriptions of passenger pigeon carnage, the distinctive rural Wisconsin setting, the sharp dialogue. And the main character, Georgie, is a marvel. When a mangled corpse wrapped in her runaway sister’s dress is brought home, Georgie is the only one who insists on learning the whole truth—and so, with a rifle and a borrowed mule, she sets out to find it. Georgie is stubborn, unworldly, self-reliant, dangerously honest, and even more dangerously good with that rifle. But it’s the ways she chooses compassion over cruelty that make her a heroine I adore.  

The Parker Inheritance

By Varian Johnson,

Book cover of The Parker Inheritance

Why this book?

I could not put this book down. When twelve-year-old Candice and her neighbor Brandon find a mysterious letter hidden among Candice’s dead grandmother’s things, they embark on a puzzle that leads them deep into the racist history of their South Carolina town, uncovering truths that the adults around them have tried to keep buried. Not only is The Parker Inheritance a hook-you-from-the-start mystery (it will have readers of any age burning through the pages), but it’s a story about what young people can do together when they demand justice.  

The Crowfield Curse

By Pat Walsh,

Book cover of The Crowfield Curse

Why this book?

Set in a chilly medieval abbey and its surrounding forest, this tale is rich with sensory details, buried secrets, and unsettling questions—exactly what I want from a historical middle-grade mystery. After learning that an “angel” is buried in the snow behind Crowfield Abbey, a servant boy named Will discovers that old magic and terrible menace are also hidden in the frozen woods all around. I love this book for so many reasons, but the wintery chill it captures might be the best bit of all. Archeologist-turned-author Pat Walsh conveys the cold so vividly, you’ll want to read this one under a pile of thick blankets. 

Mystery of Black Hollow Lane

By Julia Nobel,

Book cover of Mystery of Black Hollow Lane

Why this book?

This story has so many delicious ingredients—ancient boarding schools, secret societies, enigmatic notes slipped into pockets, young allies banding together against a powerful enemy—and they all combine to make the kind of book that classic mystery fans will devour.  

Under the Egg

By Laura Marx Fitzgerald,

Book cover of Under the Egg

Why this book?

If a Wes Anderson movie collided with From the Mixed-Up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler, it would feel something like this. Thirteen-year-old Theodora’s grandfather recently died, leaving her alone with her mentally ill mother, a crumbling Greenwich Village townhouse, a heap of unpaid bills, and the cryptic message, “Look under the egg”—and what Theo uncovers is a compelling mystery that stretches from the Italian Renaissance to the Nazi prison camps. The community that builds around Theo as she looks for answers is full of great New York eccentrics, and the Manhattan setting is captured with love and charm.

5 book lists we think you will like!

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