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...

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.  

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The books I picked & why

Book cover of One Came Home

Jacqueline West Why did I love 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.  

By Amy Timberlake,

Why should I read it?

3 authors picked One Came Home as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it. This book is for kids age 9, 10, 11, and 12.

What is this book about?

A Newbery Honor Book

An ALA-ALSC Notable Children's Book

Winner of the Edgar Allan Poe Award for Best Juvenile Novel

“An adventure, a mystery, and a love song to the natural world. . . . Run out and read it. Right now.”—Newbery Medalist Karen Cushman

In the town of Placid, Wisconsin, in 1871, Georgie Burkhardt is known for two things: her uncanny aim with a rifle and her habit of speaking her mind plainly.

But when Georgie blurts out something she shouldn't, her older sister Agatha flees, running off with a pack of "pigeoners" trailing the passenger pigeon migration. And…


Book cover of The Parker Inheritance

Jacqueline West Why did I love 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.  

By Varian Johnson,

Why should I read it?

4 authors picked The Parker Inheritance as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it. This book is for kids age 8, 9, 10, and 11.

What is this book about?

When Candice finds a letter in an old attic in Lambert, South Carolina,
she isn't sure she should read it. It's addressed to her grandmother,
who left the town in shame. But the letter describes
a young woman. An injustice that happened decades ago. A mystery
enfolding its writer. And the fortune that awaits the person who
solves the puzzle.

So with the help of Brandon, the quiet boy across the street, she
begins to decipher the clues. The challenge will lead them deep
into Lambert's history, full of ugly deeds, forgotten heroes, and
one great love; and deeper into…


Book cover of The Crowfield Curse

Jacqueline West Why did I love 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. 

By Pat Walsh,

Why should I read it?

2 authors picked The Crowfield Curse as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it. This book is for kids age 8, 9, 10, and 11.

What is this book about?

*"A wondrous mystery." --Kirkus, starred review

*"Suspenseful and spooky...with an edgy battle between good and evil." --School Library Journal, starred review

If the deepest secret has been spoken, can the deadliest curse be broken?

Sent into the forest to gather firewood for the medieval abbey where he's an apprentice, Will hears a cry for help, and comes upon a creature no bigger than a cat. Trapped and wounded, it's a hobgoblin, who confesses a horrible secret: Something is buried deep in the snow, just beyond the graveyard. A mythical being, doomed by an ancient curse...

What does this mystery have…


Book cover of Mystery of Black Hollow Lane

Jacqueline West Why did I love 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.  

By Julia Nobel,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Mystery of Black Hollow Lane as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it. This book is for kids age 8, 9, 10, and 11.

What is this book about?

For fans of The Mysterious Benedict Society and The Blackthorn Key series comes an award-winning boarding school mystery about twelve year old Emmy, who's shipped off to a prestigious British school. But her new home is hiding a secret society ... and it may be the answer to Emmy's questions about her missing father.
With a dad who disappeared years ago and a mother who's a bit too busy to parent, Emmy is shipped off to Wellsworth, a prestigious boarding school in England, where she's sure she won't fit in.
But then she finds a box of mysterious medallions in…


Book cover of Under the Egg

Jacqueline West Why did I love 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.

By Laura Marx Fitzgerald,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Under the Egg as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it. This book is for kids age 8, 9, 10, and 11.

What is this book about?

When Theodora Tenpenny spills a bottle of rubbing alcohol on her late grandfather's painting, she discovers what seems to be an old Renaissance masterpiece underneath. That's great news for Theo, who's struggling to hang onto her family's two-hundred-year-old townhouse and support her unstable mother on her grandfather's legacy of $463. There's just one problem: Theo's grandfather was a security guard at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, and she worries the painting may be stolen. With surprising twists, heartwarming moments, and historical facts, Laura Marx Fitzgerald creates the perfect adventure in Under the Egg.


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Virginia Wouldn't Slow Down!: The Unstoppable Dr. Apgar and Her Life-Saving Invention

By Carrie A. Pearson, Nancy Carpenter (illustrator),

Book cover of Virginia Wouldn't Slow Down!: The Unstoppable Dr. Apgar and Her Life-Saving Invention

Carrie A. Pearson

New book alert!

What is my book about?

A delightful and distinctive picture book biography about Dr. Virginia Apgar, who invented the standard, eponymous test for evaluating newborn health used worldwide thousands of times every day.

You might know about the Apgar Score. But do you know the brilliant, pioneering woman who invented it? Born at the turn of the twentieth century, Virginia Apgar soared above what girls were expected to do―or not do. Ginny adored science, hated cooking, drove fast, made her own violins, earned a pilot’s license, and traveled the world. Here, Carrie Pearson’s jaunty storytelling and Nancy Carpenter’s playful illustrations capture the energy and independence of a woman who didn’t slow down for anything―and changed newborn care forever.

Virginia Wouldn't Slow Down!: The Unstoppable Dr. Apgar and Her Life-Saving Invention

By Carrie A. Pearson, Nancy Carpenter (illustrator),

What is this book about?

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Born at the turn of the twentieth century, Virginia "Ginny" Apgar soared above what girls were expected to do-or not do. She wasn't quiet, she wore all sorts of outfits, she played the sports she wanted to-and she pursued the career she chose, graduating near the top of her class at Columbia University and becoming only the second board-certified female anaesthesiologist in the United States.…


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