Crime and mystery books for children and young adults

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Crime and mystery books constantly top the polls here at Calibre, but this exciting genre isn’t just for grown-ups. If you like thrilling plot twists, suspense-packed action and more than a smattering of mystery to keep you hooked, then you will not be disappointed by these criminally good reads.

Agent Amelia: Ghost Diamond! by Michael Broad (KS1)

These are the secret agent case files of Amelia Kidd who has saved the world many times, thanks to her great disguises and gadgets.

Lady Grace Mysteries by Grace Cavendish (KS2)

The Lady Grace Mysteries is a detective fiction series of books set in 1569. They see the protagonist, Lady Grace Cavendish, a maid of honour to Queen Elizabeth I, trying to solve a mystery of the royal court. Written in the style of a diary, these are gripping historical fiction stories for Key Stage 2 readers.

With the titles written in alphabetical order, we have the first four of the series in our collection - Assassin, Betrayal, Conspiracy, Deception – as well as the last, Loot.

The Big Six by Arthur Ransome (KS2)

Bill, Peter and Joe are falsely accused of setting boats adrift and the whole river is against them. Only Dick, Dorothea and Tom Dudgeon are there to stand by their friends and they soon set to work to investigate the crimes and trap the real criminals.

Anisha Accidental Detective by Serena Patel (KS2)

Anisha is all set to be a (reluctant) bridesmaid at Aunty Bindi's wedding... until a secret ransom note arrives. Bindi's groom has been kidnapped and will only be released IF THE WEDDING IS CALLED OFF! With best friend Milo, mischievous Granny Jas, a runaway lobster and some super skills of logic and observation, it's up to Anisha Mistry to find her uncle, before the big family wedding of the year becomes a big disaster.

Pages and Co Series by Anna James (KS2)

Since her mother’s disappearance, eleven-year-old Tilly has found comfort in stories at Pages & Co., her grandparents’ bookshop. But when her favourite characters, Anne of Green Gables and Alice from Wonderland, appear in the shop, Tilly’s adventures become very real. She discovers she can bookwander into any story she chooses, but danger may be lurking on the very next page…

The first three adventures are available to listen to now; join Tilly and her friend Oskar in Tilly and The Bookwanderers, The Lost Fairy Tales and The Map of Stories as they embark on magical journeys through the pages, running from unknown threats and attempting to make sense of the mysteries and chaos they encounter along the way.

Artemis Fowl by Eoin Colfer (KS2/3)

Artemis Fowl is the twelve-year-old child genius and most powerful criminal mastermind in history! Artemis Fowl is public enemy number one, but will anyone ever stop him?

In the first of this epic series, Artemis is only twelve years old and already a criminal mastermind, but even he doesn't realise what will happen when he kidnaps a fairy. No ordinary fairy, Captain Holly Short of the LEPrecon Unit, is armed, dangerous and doesn't play by the rules.

If this gets you hooked (and it will!), follow Artemis on his next five adventures with The Arctic Incident, The Eternity Code, The Opal Deception and The Lost Colony. If you still have a taste for chaos and crime after all this, you can keep it in the family with reading about the exploits of his younger (and very different) twin brothers in The Fowl Twins and Deny all charges, suitable for Key Stage 3.

Peril in Paris by Katherine Woodfine (KS2/3)

It’s 1911, and the young detectives of Taylor & Rose are turning their talents to espionage. On a case for the mysterious Secret Service Bureau, they must leave London for the boulevards and grand hotels of Paris. But danger lurks beneath the bright lights of the city - and our heroines will need to put all their spy skills to the test to face the peril that awaits them...

Read the rest of this thrilling secret agent series with Spies in St Petersburg and Villains in Venice, with Nightfall in New York coming soon.

Alex Rider Series by Anthony Horowitz (KS2/3)

Alex Rider is a series of spy novels written by British author Anthony Horowitz. The novels revolve around a teenage spy named Alex Rider and is primarily aimed towards young adults. We are lucky enough to have nearly all of the novels available for members to listen to now, with others hopefully landing very soon.

Books in the series: Stormbreaker, Point Blanc, Skeleton Key, Eagle Strike, Scorpia, Ark Angel, Snakehead, Crocodile Tears, Scorpia Rising, Russian Roulette, and Undercover (a World Book Day short story).

Coming soon: Secret Weapon and Nightshade.

Murder Most Unladylike Series by Robin Stevens (KS3)

Murder Most Unladylike follows two schoolgirls in 1930s England solving their first murder mystery and is the first book in the hugely popular (and brilliant) series.

The stories are written in the style of a casebook and follows two fictional boarding schoolgirl detectives, Daisy Wells and Hazel Wong, as they try to solve the crimes and mysteries that seem to follow them around.

We have the first four read to binge now (trust us, you won't be able to stop), plus a World Book Day short story, with others hopefully following soon. Time to get cracking on your first case:

Murder Most Unladylike, Arsenic For Tea, First Class Murder, Jolly Foul Play and The Case of the Drowned Pearl.

One of us is Lying by Karen McManus (KS4)

Five students go to detention. Only four leave alive. Simon, creator of the notorious gossip app at Bayview High, dies 24 hours before he could post their deepest secrets online. Investigators conclude it's no accident. All of them are suspects. Everyone has secrets, right?

Two Can Keep a Secret by Karen McManus (KS4)

Ellery's never been to Echo Ridge, but she's heard all about it. It's where her aunt went missing at age sixteen, never to return. And where a Homecoming Queen's murder five years ago made national news. Malcolm grew up in the shadow of the Homecoming Queen's death. His older brother was the prime suspect. Ellery and Malcolm both know it's hard to let go when you don't have closure. But the truth might be closer to home than either of them want to believe.

A Good Girl’s Guide to Murder by Holly Jackson (KS4)

Five years ago, schoolgirl Andie Bell was murdered by Sal Singh. The police know he did it. Everyone in town knows he did it. But having grown up in the same small town, Pippa Fitz-Amobi isn't so sure. When she chooses the case as the topic for her final project, she starts to uncover secrets that someone in town desperately wants to stay hidden. And if the real killer is still out there, how far will they go to keep Pip from the truth . . . ?

As Good As Dead by Holly Jackson (KS4)

Following on from A Good Girl’s Guide to Murder. Pip Fitz-Amobi is haunted by the way her last investigation ended. Soon she’ll be leaving for Cambridge University, but then another case finds her...and this time it’s all about Pip. Pip is used to online death threats, but there’s one that catches her eye, someone who keeps asking: who will look for you when you’re the one who disappears? If Pip doesn’t find the answers, this time she will be the one who disappears.

And now for something not completely different, but definitely of a more unique flavour. Suitable for Key Stage 4 upwards, my favourite quote in reference to this book is “trying to describe the plot would be like trying to build a submarine out of cheese.” So, if you’re the kind of reader who’s interest is piqued not dampened by this, it is definitely worth dipping your toe into the mad and unparalleled world of Douglas Adams.

Dirk Gently's Holistic Detective Agency by Douglas Adams

Dirk Gently is the sole investigator of a detective agency that exploits the interconnectedness of everything to solve a case, and he is staggeringly successful at finding the truth. Here he travels the universe to find a cat, to solve a murder and to save the human race.