The 9 Best Murder Mystery Books for Teens

Murder mystery books have captivated readers of all ages for centuries, and teens are no exception. With their unique blend of suspense, thrilling plots, and intriguing characters, these novels have become a staple in young adult literature. In this article, we’ll explore why murder mysteries are so popular among teens and highlight some of the best classic, contemporary, and diverse titles in the genre.

The 9 Best Murder Mystery Books for Teens

Why Teens Love Murder Mystery Books

The allure of murder mysteries for teens goes beyond simply providing an exciting story to pass the time. There are several aspects of this genre that make it especially appealing to young readers:

The appeal of solving puzzles

At the heart of every murder mystery is a puzzle waiting to be solved. The challenge of piecing together clues, following red herrings, and ultimately uncovering the truth can be incredibly satisfying for a teen looking for mental stimulation. Additionally, the deductive reasoning and problem-solving skills sharpened by reading murder mysteries can translate into improved academic performance and real-life applications.

Exploring darker themes

As they navigate the challenges and uncertainties of adolescence, many teens are drawn to darker, more complex themes in literature. Murder mysteries offer a safe space for young readers to explore these themes, grappling with topics such as mortality, betrayal, and moral dilemmas. By confronting these issues in the pages of a book, readers can better understand their feelings and emotions as they mature and grow.

Relatable characters and settings

While some murder mysteries feature adult detectives and protagonists, many of the best titles catered to teens showcase younger characters who are relatable and appealing to this demographic. These stories often take place in settings like high schools, summer camps, or college campuses, providing a touch of familiarity that helps readers become more invested in the story.

However, there are other reasons why teens love murder mystery books. For one, these books offer a thrilling escape from the mundane realities of everyday life. The suspense and tension of a well-written mystery can transport readers to a different world, one filled with intrigue and danger.

Furthermore, murder mysteries often feature strong, intelligent, and independent characters, particularly female protagonists. For young readers looking for role models, these characters can be empowering and inspiring. They show that anyone, regardless of age or gender, can solve a complex mystery and bring a killer to justice.

Another reason why teens love murder mysteries is the sense of community that can develop around these books. Whether it’s discussing theories with friends, participating in online forums, or attending book clubs, murder mysteries can bring people together around a shared interest. This sense of belonging can be particularly important for teens who may feel isolated or misunderstood.

Finally, murder mysteries can be a gateway to other genres and forms of media. Many popular murder mystery books have been adapted into movies, TV shows, and video games, offering fans new ways to engage with their favorite stories and characters. For teens interested in exploring different forms of entertainment, murder mysteries can be a great starting point.


In conclusion, there are many reasons why teens love murder mystery books. From the appeal of solving puzzles to the exploration of darker themes, these books offer a thrilling and rewarding reading experience. Whether you’re a seasoned mystery fan or a newcomer to the genre, there’s always something new to discover and enjoy.

Classic Murder Mystery Books for Teens

When it comes to classic murder mystery novels, these three titles have proven their staying power and continue to captivate young readers today:

And Then There Were None by Agatha Christie

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Widely regarded as one of the best-selling murder mysteries of all time, Agatha Christie’s “And Then There Were None” tells the gripping story of ten strangers who are lured to an isolated island and picked off one by one by an unknown killer. With multiple twists and turns, this classic novel provides the perfect introduction to the Queen of Crime’s legendary storytelling.

The novel has been adapted for stage, film, and television numerous times, and has become a cultural touchstone. It is often cited as a prime example of the “locked room” mystery sub-genre, in which a group of people are trapped in a confined space with a killer among them.

Agatha Christie’s writing style is known for its intricate plotting and attention to detail. Her characters are often complex and flawed, and the mystery itself is always carefully crafted. “And Then There Were None” is a must-read for any fan of murder mysteries, and a great starting point for teens looking to explore the genre.

The Westing Game by Ellen Raskin

The Westing Game (Puffin Modern Classics)

A Newbery Medal winner, Ellen Raskin’s “The Westing Game” is both a clever murder mystery and a heartwarming coming-of-age tale. The story revolves around Sam Westing’s sixteen heirs, who must work together to solve a complex puzzle and discover the truth about Westing’s demise.

The novel is known for its intricate plot and memorable characters, including the eccentric and reclusive Westing himself. The puzzle at the heart of the book is challenging and engaging, and readers will find themselves drawn into the mystery alongside the characters.

The Westing Game ” also explores themes of identity, family, and the American Dream. It is a book that can be enjoyed by readers of all ages, and has become a beloved classic for teen readers in particular.

The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes by Arthur Conan Doyle

The Adventures Of Sherlock Holmes

Featuring the world’s most famous detective, Arthur Conan Doyle’s “The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes” is a collection of short stories filled with ingenious mysteries and fascinating characters.

Sherlock Holmes is known for his deductive reasoning and attention to detail, and his cases often involve complex puzzles and hidden clues. The stories in this collection cover a range of crimes, from theft and fraud to murder and espionage.

One of the most interesting aspects of the Sherlock Holmes stories is the relationship between Holmes and his friend and colleague, Dr. John Watson. Watson serves as the narrator for many of the stories, and his perspective provides a window into Holmes’ brilliant mind.

The Sherlock Holmes stories have had a lasting impact on popular culture, and have inspired countless adaptations and spin-offs. They are a must-read for any fan of detective fiction, and a great introduction to the genre for teen readers.

Contemporary Murder Mystery Books for Teens

Are you a fan of murder mysteries? Do you love to read about intriguing crimes and try to solve them before the characters do? If so, you’re in luck! There are plenty of new and exciting murder mysteries available that explore modern themes and settings. Here are a few you won’t want to miss:

One of Us is Lying by Karen M. McManus

One of Us Is Lying

Karen M. McManus’ “One of Us is Lying” has been hailed as “The Breakfast Club” meets murder mystery. The story follows five high school students who enter detention together, but only four make it out alive. The survivor’s stories don’t add up, and suspicion quickly falls on them. With secrets, lies, and shifting alliances, this compelling thriller keeps readers guessing until the very end.

Readers of this book will be drawn into the intricate web of relationships between the characters. They will be challenged to solve the mystery alongside the characters and will be left guessing until the very end. McManus has crafted a clever and engaging story that will keep you on the edge of your seat.

A Good Girl’s Guide to Murder by Holly Jackson

A Good Girl's Guide to Murder

In Holly Jackson’s “A Good Girl’s Guide to Murder,” Pip Fitz-Amobi must reexamine a closed case in which a popular high school girl was murdered and her boyfriend was convicted. Pip is convinced that the wrong person was convicted, and as she delves deeper into the case, she uncovers lies, hidden motives, and surprising truths that challenge everything she thought she knew about the case. This riveting debut novel offers a fresh and modern take on the murder mystery genre.

Readers of this book will be swept up in the twists and turns of the plot. They will be challenged to think critically about the evidence and to question their assumptions about the characters. Jackson has created a compelling and complex story that will keep you guessing until the very end.

Truly Devious by Maureen Johnson

Truly Devious: A Mystery

The first book in a popular trilogy, Maureen Johnson’s “Truly Devious” follows student detective Stevie Bell as she attempts to solve a decades-old murder mystery at the prestigious Ellingham Academy. With an atmospheric setting and a gripping blend of historical and modern mysteries, this novel is perfect for fans of both true crime and fictional whodunits.

Readers of this book will be transported to the eerie and isolated Ellingham Academy, where the lines between past and present, truth and fiction, are blurred. They will be challenged to solve the mystery alongside Stevie and will be left eagerly anticipating the next installment in the series.

So if you’re looking for a thrilling and engaging read, be sure to check out these contemporary murder mystery books for teens. You won’t be disappointed!

Diverse and Inclusive Murder Mystery Books for Teens

As the literary world becomes more inclusive, there are a growing number of murder mystery titles that feature diverse protagonists and showcase a variety of cultural perspectives:

Monday’s Not Coming by Tiffany D. Jackson

Monday's Not Coming

In “Monday’s Not Coming,” Tiffany D. Jackson tells the story of Claudia, a young girl searching for her missing best friend Monday. As the search deepens and the truth about Monday’s disappearance unfolds, the reader is taken on a heart-wrenching and suspenseful journey that explores themes of friendship, trust, and the far-reaching consequences of secrets.

The Silence of Bones by June Hur

The Silence of Bones

June Hur’s “The Silence of Bones” transports readers to 19th-century Korea, offering a unique and immersive historical setting. The novel follows Seol, an indentured servant who becomes entangled in a dangerous murder investigation. With its vivid portrayal of Korean culture and history, along with an engaging mystery at its core, this book is a fantastic addition to any teen’s reading list.

I Killed Zoe Spanos by Kit Frick

I Killed Zoe Spanos

When Anna arrives in a small Hamptons village, she bears an eerie resemblance to the missing girl Zoe Spanos. As she becomes drawn into the investigation, Anna becomes convinced that she accidentally killed Zoe, but the truth is far more complicated than she realizes. Kit Frick’s “I Killed Zoe Spanos” deftly blends elements of psychological suspense and murder mystery, resulting in a captivating read that’s perfect for fans of “Gone Girl” and “We Were Liars.”

In conclusion, murder mystery books offer teens intriguing and suspenseful stories that engage their minds and explore a wide range of themes and issues. With classic, contemporary, and diverse titles alike, there’s sure to be a murder mystery for every young reader looking for thrilling page-turners.


Are teens too young to read classic murder mysteries?

Teens can enjoy clean murder mystery books such as the works written by Arthur Conan Doyle and Agatha Christie, however, parents should be careful introducing their children to modern murder mysteries that sometimes feature explicit language and graphic violence.

Who is a good murder mystery author for teens?

Holly Jackson is a well-known favorite when it comes to YA murder mysteries. However, other popular writers in this genre include Karen M. McManus, Kit Frick, and Jennifer Lynn Barnes.

What is the best murder mystery book for a teen to read?

Holly Jackson’s A Good Guide to Murder is a brilliant choice. It incorporates suspense, compelling storylines, and humorous narration.

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Eddison Monroe
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