Mysteries or Spies
I’ve put these in very rough chronological order, starting with ancient times and working up to modern times.
The Golden Goblet, Eloise Jarvis McGraw. Ancient Egypt, family conflict-mystery.
The Case of the Marble Monster, by I.G. Edmonds. Mini-mysteries set in ancient Japan with a clever judge. Solve them yourself or keep reading to find the answer.
Samurai series, by Dorothy Hoobler. Oddly, these have Judge Ooka (of Marble Monster fame) as a minor character. That was a hoot for me, but even without him, I love the ancient Japanese setting and the main character. If I remember correctly, some of these have a hint of paranormal (ghosts, etc), but mostly not.
A Murder for Her Majesty, by Beth Hilgartner. To hide from her father’s enemies, a young girl disguises herself in the middle of a boy’s choir.
The Agency series, by Y.S. Lee. A “school is cover for spy agency” book. Bit of a trope perhaps, but well-written, with the very practical twist of using servants for spying.
The Stranje House series, Kathleen Baldwin. A bit of alternative historical England, since magic exists. Another girls’ school is more than it seems…
The Baker Street series, by Robert Newman. This is a Sherlock Holmes series—sort of. In the first book, Sherlock Holmes and a young boy help each other solve mysteries. In the rest of the series, the young boy is the detective, with a bit of help. I love the characters and the friendships, and the plots aren’t bad, either.
Montmorency series, by Eleanor Updale. I can’t remember if this is absolutely squeaky clean or not, so I think so, but proceed with caution? Victorian era double-identity mysteries.
Nancy Springer’s Enola Holmes series. Imagine Sherlock Holmes had a little sister… Now imagine she’s been raised by their mysterious mother to be unusual and amazing as well as smart. Now imagine that society is trying to make her behave like a normal young lady. Are you prepared for the fireworks?
The Ghost Belong to Me Series, by Richard Peck. Recent-historical with light paranormal (clairvoyance and ghosts) and absolutely hilarious situations and characters. Okay, mostly hilarious—be prepared to bawl on the Titanic.
The Boxcar Children, by Gertrude Chandler Warner. Definitely on the younger side, but a sweet series about four young orphans.
Trenton Lee Stewart, The Mysterious Benedict Society series. A bunch of smart kids solve mysteries in modern times with the help of adults (hello, reality!). Again, the characters are superb, and very funny.
Donald J. Sobol. The classic Encyclopedia Brown mini-mystery series. The really nice thing about this series is that most of the mysteries are actually realistic for a kid to solve, rather than big robberies & murders & other “police should handle this” situations.
Trixie Belden series. You can probably find the first dozen or so moderately easily, but there are actually almost 40 of them. 🙂 Trixie and her group of friends do solve unrealistic mysteries *cough* but they also work with the police instead of doing it all themselves.
Ally Carter. She has several spy/mystery series, and they’re all good. Be prepared to cry, though. Also laugh. She’ll run your emotions around in a circle before she lets you rest.
Echo Falls series, by Peter Abrahams. Contemporary, more middle grade than YA. Has a few minor plot holes but still very enjoyable.
Sammy Keyes, by Wendelin Van Draanen. Plucky “orphan” lives illegally with her grandmother and gets in trouble at school while she solves mysteries. I have to admit, I didn’t like the ending to the last book… Also not a fan of having a boyfriend at age 12. But Sammy is funny and stubborn, and I like that.
Too Much Information, by Dale Britton. Gabe can read minds, which is a blessing… until the wrong people find out about it.