The 39 Clues eleven-book series has sold over 8.5 million copies worldwide and comes from the minds of multiple authors. Mystery fascinates children, and there is a long legacy of mystery stories throughout the stories that have focused on getting children engaged with reading.
While the following list of novels is targeted toward children, there may be something for adults who want a mystery novel without a lot of violence, as there are some gems for all ages.
We’re going to look at novels that will remind fans of 39 Clues of everything they love. Also, look out for novels that are throwbacks in the genre.
With that said, let’s investigate what lies ahead.
Book Of The Dead
The first novel in the TombQuest series may be the best. Book of the Dead is a New York Times bestseller and brings forward mystery and action in a kid-friendly manner (Know some slightly older readers? Check out our guide to Mystery Books for Tweens here).
Author Michael Northrop tells the story of a mom trying to save her son’s life; mystery and action follow after she reads spells from the Egyptian Book of the Dead. When a book has a title like that, it’s probably best not to read spells from it!
If you’re interested to see what happens in the Book of the Dead or want to buy it for a present, the novel is available on Amazon here.
Author Craig Anderson is the mind behind the One Up Series; the first novel in the tale is Level Up. Level Up is an action novel with a little mystery of waiting behind the corner mixed in.
Level Up is perfect for video game fans as a freak accident leaves protagonist Marcus stuck between the virtual gaming world and the physical world. If you’re a fan of LitRPG, don’t miss this one.
If you’re interested or know a kid who would love this novel, Level Up is available on Amazon here.
Ben Archer And The Cosmic Fall
Ben Archer and the Cosmic Fall is the first entry into The Alien Skill Series from the mind of Rae Knightly. The novel is perfect for action adventure and mystery fans.
The story follows the titular character, the twelve-year-old Ben Archer on a thrilling adventure of aliens, secrets, and discovery. If you want to start the journey with Ben, the time is now!
Want to experience the journey with Ben? Want to buy the series for an adventure-seeking kid? Ben Archer and the Cosmic Fall is available on Amazon here.
Nancy Drew Files Vol. I: Secrets Can Kill; Deadly Intent; Murder on Ice
Nancy Drew Files Vol. I: Secrets Can Kill; Deadly Intent; Murder on Ice is the continuation of the long and storied Nancy Drew mystery series (somehow, she never ages). The 2019 novel was authored by Carolyne Keene and is a true early teen mystery novel.
In this Nancy Drew edition, Nancy goes under to investigate the elusive thief stalking the night halls of Bedford High. What does Nancy find? You’re going to have to find out for yourself.
You can purchase Nancy Drew Files Vol. I: Secrets Can Kill; Deadly Intent; Murder on Ice, and other Nancy Drew novels on Amazon here.
The Tower Treasure: The Hardy Boys
Speaking of a blast from the past and characters that don’t seem to age. The Tower Treasure: The Hardy Boys is the first novel in the 117 books series by Franklin W. Dixon. New fans of the Hardy Boys can look at where the mysteries began.
Frank and Joe Hardy have been having adventures since 1927, and The Tower Treasure: The Hardy Boys sees them investigate multiple cases. What do Frank and Joe learn? It’s time to find out.
You can begin the iconic series on Amazon with The Tower Treasure: The Hardy Boys on Amazon here.
Who In The World Is Carmen Sandiego?
Carmen Sandiego’s adventure and mystery novels have been around for quite some time. In one of the newer series, Who in the World Is Carmen Sandiego? is the entry point and is authored by Rebecca Tinker.
The novel based on the Netflix animated series sees a more personable Carmen Sandiego than before; however, she remains as mysterious as ever and remains under pursuit by international authorities.
If you want to know where in the world Carmen Sandiego is, you must first read Who in the World Is Carmen Sandiego. Luckily you can pick up the novel on Amazon here.
The Secret Key
Author Lena Jones brought forward The Secret Key as the first entry into the Agatha Oddly series. If you like sleuths, The Secret Key is perfect for you. Get ready for an investigation.
Thirteen-year-old Agatha Oddlow embarks on her first big case in London; what will she find and learn?
Are you ready to investigate with Agatha? You can purchase The Secret Key on Amazon here.
The Mystery Of The Moon Tower
Author Francesco Sedita presents the first entry of The Pathfinders Society series with The Mystery of the Moon Tower. If you like mysteries and kids from different backgrounds working together for a common goal, The Pathfinders Society is the series for you.
Five kids come together at summer camp and soon embark on a journey that uncovers secrets, takes them on a journey, and leads them to treasure. Sounds like a good time, right?
If you’re intrigued you can purchase The Mystery of the Moon Tower on Amazon here.
The Buried Bones Mystery
Author Sharon Draper introduces the Clubhouse Mysteries series with The Buried Bones Mystery, which investigates four friends building a clubhouse and leads to a scary mystery they begin to unravel.
Ziggy, Rico, Rashawn, and Jerome have an adventure where they must lean on each other to accomplish. What did they come to learn about the buried bones? Go ahead and find out!
Are you interested in beginning the Clubhouse Mysteries journey? The Buried Bones Mystery is available for purchase on Amazon here.
Case Closed: Mystery In The Mansion
Author Lauren Magaziner introduces her pick-your-own-path adventure and mystery novel series, Case Closed with Mystery in the Mansion. In an old but underutilized style, Magaziner tells a story kids between the ages of 7-10 will enjoy.
Carlos, Eliza, and Frank are the sleuths that take on a case to say Carlos’s mother’s Las Pistas Detective Agency. Will they break the case? It seems like now is a great time to find out.
If you want to pick the adventure or purchase Case Closed: Mystery in the Mansion as a gift on Amazon, you can do so here.
The London Eye Mystery
Author Siobhan Dowd begins a two-part epic with The London Eye Mystery. The story blends elements of suspense and mystery to deliver an exciting narrative for fans of multiple genres to enjoy.
The London Eye Mystery tells the story of Ted, Kat, and Salim; what challenges and puzzles lie ahead? You know the drill; come find out!
If you want to uncover a thrilling mystery, The London Eye Mystery is the novel for you. Feel free to purchase the novel on Amazon here.
The Feather Chase
Author Shannon Brown created The Crime-Solving Cousins Mysteries series and began the journey with The Feather Chase. Two girls, cousins; Jessica and Sophie are different, but they make a really good tag team.
Jessica and Sophie stumble across a briefcase in a forest, which begins their epic as crime solvers. What happens next? What obstacles must they overcome? One thing is certain; these twelve-year-olds don’t mess around.
If you want to see what is uncovered during The Feather Chase, you can purchase the novel on Amazon here.
Race To The End Of The World
Author A.L. Tait blends mystery, adventure, and fantasy in The Mapmaker Chronicles series. If you’re ready for an action-packed adventure series with secrets and fun; that’s suitable for children — this is the novel to dive into.
Quinn is the protagonist and his adventure takes him on a wild ride of mystery and discovery. Children as young as 10 should be able to handle the story.
If you want to see how The Mapmaker Chronicles begins, dive into Race to the End of the World, the novel is available on Amazon here.
Curse Of The Boggin: The Library, Book 1
Author D.J. MacHale brings together the supernatural, mystery, and adventure in Curse of the Boggin: The Library Book 1. If you like mysteries with scary elements or know a child that does — look no further.
The Library is a frightening place with mysteries, restless spirits, and books that you need to finish to make sure you don’t join the unliving. What more needs to be said?
If you want to take a journey to the Library, Curse of the Boggin: The Library, Book 1, is available on Amazon here.
Author Dhonielle Clayton brings together a diverse cast in her middle-grade adventure fantasy and mystery novel entitled The Marvellers. The novel is the first book in the Marvellerverse series. If you’re unfamiliar with this narrative, strap in.
What can go wrong with magic, mystery, and adventure? Plenty, eleven-year-old Ella Durand finds herself amid drama at the Arcanum Training Institute. How will she and her friends tackle what lies in front of them?
If you’re interested in this great novel, The Marvellers is available on Amazon here.
The Incorrigible Children Of Ashton Place: Book I: The Mysterious Howling
Mayrose Wood’s Incorrigible Children of Ashton Place six-part series begins with The Mysterious Howling. In a slight change from most of the novels on this list, Wood blends a great deal of humor into her stories.
The story shadows the Incorrigibles and the governess, Penelope Lumley, who must remove the canine tendencies from the children so they can learn. However, mysteries surround Ashton Place. How will Miss Penelope cope with all her challenges?
Are you intrigued to see what lies ahead for the children of Ashton Place? You can purchase The Mysterious Howling on Amazon here. Begin the journey.
The Screaming Staircase
Author Jonathan Stroud’s screaming hit, The Screaming Staircase, is the first entry in the Lockwood & Co series and is a must-read for those who like spooky mysteries.
Lucy Carlyle and Anthony Lockwood team up to solve an investigation in London. Many Psychic Detection Agencies operate in this world, and only young people have the psychic abilities required to defeat supernatural foes.
If you aren’t already hooked, shame on you. See what you’re missing in The Screaming Staircase on Amazon here.
The Secret Lake
Author Karen Inglis, The Secret Lake is for children between the ages of 8-11 and once again takes place in London. The hit novel sees an innocent tale told in a mystery.
Stella and Tom look to solve the mystery of a missing dog, Harry. Their investigation leads them to a secret lake where the mystery begins. Take on this adventure with them.
The Secret Lake is the beginning of the Secret Lake Mystery Adventures series, and it is well worth the read. Jump over to Amazon and purchase the novel here.
The Doll In The Garden: A Ghost Story
Author Mary Downing Hahn decided to bring horror to the children’s mystery genre. Don’t worry The Doll in the Garden: A Ghost Story is suitable for kids aged 7-12. However, there is suspense to be had.
The protagonist is Ashley; she faces the supernatural head-on due to a doll she and a friend uncover. What secrets does this doll hold? Will Ashley be able to resolve everything peacefully?
If you’re sold on this spooky mystery, you can purchase The Doll in the Garden on Amazon here.
Casey Grimes: The Mostly Invisible Boy
Author AJ Vanderhorst brings the award-winning first part of the Casey Grimes series with The Mostly Invisible Boy. The words within this novel take you on a mystery fantasy of self-discovery.
Eleven-year-old Casey is the protagonist and is an extremely friendly boy who is, unfortunately, mostly invisible. He and his sister Gloria eventually go on an adventure that they couldn’t have dreamt up. What lies in front of them?
Ready to take a mysterious journey with Casey and Gloria? You can purchase The Mostly Invisible Boy on Amazon here.
Frequently Asked Questions
Which Novels On The List Would You Recommend For Children?
The Marvellers is a diverse masterpiece and worth a read; Race to the End of the World is a hit for a reason; The Screaming Staircase is amazing; The Buried Bones Mystery for its diversity and themes; The Mostly Invisible Boy for its themes and storytelling.
Are All Of These Novels Really Suitable For Children?
Yes, some are for older pre-teens, and some are for those just leaving adolescence. There is a range of novels listed that children of all ages will understand, enjoy, and will learn from.
Do Older Novels Like The Nancy Drew And Hardy Boy Series Hold Up?
The Nancy Drew novel mentioned is modern, as are the contemporaries in its series. The Hardy Boy series has undergone modern updates as well.
If You Had To Choose Just One Book From The Li… which one is the best book?
The Marvellers, read it. I mean you, adults, you read it too.
- 20 Illustrated Books Like Owl Diaries For Young Readers - February 16, 2023
- The 20 Best Children’s Mystery Books Like 39 Clues - February 15, 2023
- Music + Mystery: 20 Best Books Like Daisy Jones & The Six - February 11, 2023