A Mighty Girl's top picks of mysteries for children and teens starring Mighty Girl detectives!
From uncovering a mystery to the hunt for clues, from mistaken conclusions to the big reveal, many Mighty Girls love detective stories! And, while many of the most favorite fictional detectives, from Sherlock Holmes to Hercule Poirot, are male, there are many excellent mysteries starring female detectives who lead investigations, study the evidence, and solve the mystery — all perfect for inspiring the would-be detectives of tomorrow!
If your kids love mystery stories — or dream of being detectives themselves one day — then you're sure to find a book they'll love in our new collection of the best in Mighty Girl detective stories! These books are full of curious, determined, and clever female characters who refuse to let things go until they find the truth. We've even included a few stories featuring one of the first real-life woman detectives!
For more suspenseful books starring Mighty Girls, visit our Mystery & Suspense Collection. Would-be detectives can practice their skills with the mysteries in A Year of Mini Mysteries: 29 Tricky Tales to Untangle for ages 8 to 11, and Bella's Mystery Deck for ages 9 to 12.
Mighty Girl Detective Stories
In 1856, Kate Warne met with Allan Pinkerton, the founder of the famous Pinkerton Detective Agency, to make an important point: a woman detective could go places that his male detectives couldn't. Pinkerton was impressed with Warne's drive, and soon she was ferreting out secrets in disguise as a society lady. And when an assassination threat targeted the newly elected Abraham Lincoln on the way to his inauguration, Warne played a critical role in helping him get to the capital safely. This fascinating biography, accompanied by colorful, expressive illustrations, is sure to intrigue would-be detectives.
There's been a break-in on Orange Street, where Hilde Lysiak, 9-year-old reporter, lives: first some cupcakes are stolen, then a pie follows suit. Never one to back down from a challenge — or a story — Hilde recruits her sister Izzy as a photographer and sets out to crack the case. Together, they'll interview witnesses and look for clues...but can Hilde get the job done in time for her online deadline for the Orange Street News? This is the first volume of a new early reader series based on real stories that Hilde has covered in her work as the country's youngest crime reporter; with easy text and illustrations on every page, and incorporating new vocabulary and high-interest stories, they're sure to be favorites with young mystery fans!
Cam and her friend Eric are sitting in the mall when a thief robs the jewelry store. The only problem is that the police arrest the wrong person! But Cam can't rely on her photographic memory to see justice done — she has to find proof. So it's time for her and Eric to use every bit of their observation and reasoning skills to put the real criminal behind bars. Perfect for kids who are just transitioning to chapter books, the Cam Jansen mysteries are appealing and fun. Cam's adventures continue in Cam Jansen and the Mystery of the U.F.O.
King the dog helps his best friend Kayla solve a mysterious pair of coded letters! Kayla and Mason have both received letters. What Kayla knows is that the same person sent both of them — someone both she and Mason know — and that the two letters are the same except for the second word. What King knows is that Jillian is the one who left the letters. Can Kayla and King figure out what the letters say using these clues? This fun early chapter mystery story teaches young readers how to gather information and analyze clues. Fans of this title can also get the second volume, King & Kayla and the Case of the Missing Dog Treats.
Third grade scientist and inventor extraordinaire Ada Lace has a new challenge to take on: her neighbor's beloved Yorkie dog has been dognapped! Ada is sure that her homemade gadgets and her knack for scientific thinking will allow her to crack the case. A quirky neighborhood girl, Nina, insists on helping, but she has has her own theory about the missing dog (involving alien abduction, of all things!) As Ada and Nina get closer to the solution, though, they'll also discover that opposites can make for the best of friends! This new series from Emily Calandrelli, host of Xploration Outer Space and MIT graduate, provides a scientifically-minded detective young readers will love. Fans of Ada can also check out the second volume of the series, Ada Lace Sees Red.
Smashie McPerter's day starts out bad — instead of their regular teacher, they have the worst substitute in the world, Mr. Carper — and goes downhill from there. And just when she thinks it's as bad as it gets, the class hamster goes missing! As the students of Room 11 start peering suspiciously at one another, Smashie and her friend Dontel have to start puzzling out motivations, establishing alibis, and looking beyond immediate suspects if they want to solve this mystery! This new series, perfect for kids moving into chapter books, is fun and engaging, even as it teaches investigative methods like the process of elimination. Fans can follow Smashie's adventures in the sequel, Smashie McPerter and the Mystery of the Missing Goop.
Friday Barnes has already achieved detective renown by solving a bank robbery — and she uses the money to send herself to Highcrest Academy, the sort of exclusive boarding school that a girl genius like her dreams of but couldn't have afforded otherwise. But Highcrest, it turns out, is also full of mysteries: missing homework, Yeti sightings, and Ian Wainscott, the handsomest and most arrogant boy in school who hates her. Friday, though, is ready to take on all these mysteries...but is Highcrest ready for her? Full of tongue-in-cheek humor and lots of heart, this novel with black and white illustrations throughout will rapidly become a favorite — and since it ends in a cliffhanger, fans of Friday will want to check out her return in Friday Barnes: Under Suspicion.
At school, Kelsey, Becca, and Leo don't have anything in common — so it seems unlikely they'd become friends. But when the trio find an abandoned sack of kittens in an alleyway, they decide to work together to figure out who dumped the animals. Then reports start coming in of animals missing all over town! When they combine Kelsey's spy skills, Becca's animal expertise, and Leo's tech savvy, they become the Curious Cat Spy Club... and they're ready to crack the case! This fun middle-grade mystery will appeal to animal lovers and would-be spies alike. Fans of this volume can also check out the Curious Cat Spy Club Box Set, which features the first three volumes in the series.
Theodosia Throckmorton's father may be the curator at the Museum of Legends and Antiquities in 1906 London, but it's Theodosia who can see the ancient curses that still linger on the artifacts. Behind her father's back, she uses old Egyptian magic to keep her father and the other museum employees safe. But when her mother brings back an ancient scarab with the most powerful curses yet, Theodosia's investigations lead her to two secret societies — and a battle between good and evil. From the streets of London to the tombs outside of Cairo, Theodosia will put all her resources to the test as she protects her family and her country. Kids will be intrigued by the combination of mystery, fantasy, and archeology in this series. The mysteries continue in Theodosia and the Staff of Osiris.
Shelby Holmes stands out in sixth grade: she's only 9 years old, she's not even four feet tall, and she's definitely the best detective in her Harlem neighborhood. But her intelligence and initiative — what some would call "bossiness" — hasn't won her any friends. So when 11-year-old John Watson moves in downstairs, Shelby sweeps him up in an investigation into a dognapping. Easy-going John is a bit surprised to find himself in the middle of a mystery, but he soon realizes that he has plenty to contribute, and soon the pair are partners — and friends. This fun middle-grade reinterpretation of Sherlock Holmes is heartfelt and charming. Fans of the first volume of the Shelby Holmes series can check out the second, The Great Shelby Holmes Meets Her Match.
When shy Tabitha Crum receives one of six invitations to the country estate of wealthy Countess Camilla DeMoss, she's baffled: as a neglected child with only a pet mouse, Pemberley, for a friend, she had no reason to expect such an illustrious host to take an interest in her. But once she arrives at the possibly-haunted mansion, the other children start disappearing, one by one. Tabitha may be quiet, but that doesn't mean she's going to stand by and watch...particularly when they might be her first friends ever. Full of suspense, hope, and love, kids will root for Tabitha as she proves that her pluck, cleverness, and determination can get her through anything.
Imagine a world where a young Ada Lovelace (of computer programming fame) became best friends with Mary Godwin (the future Mary Shelley, author of Frankenstein) and formed their own detective agency! That's what happens in this entertaining series that combines mystery with STEM subjects. When a heirloom is stolen — and someone falsely confesses to the crime — it's up to the astute but socially awkward Ada and the daring and romantic Mary to put their analytical talents to solving the mystery. Fans of the Wollstonecraft Detective Agency series will want to seek out the sequels, The Case of the Girl in Grey and The Case of the Counterfeit Criminals.
Randi Rhodes is a tae kwon do-loving, mystery-solving twelve-year-old — but after her mother dies, and her father moves them to the small town of Deer Creek, Tennessee, she fears her detective days are over. But when the Founder's Day Festival — the event that the town is depending on — is threatened by the disappearance of a time capsule that's its main attraction (and incidentally supposedly holds the town's treasure), Randi and her new friend D.C. set out to solve the case. This energetic and entertaining mystery is sure to be a hit with middle grade readers! Fans of Randi Rhodes, Ninja Detective can check out the second volume, The Sweetest Heist in History.
Sometimes a girl doesn't think of herself as a detective — sometimes, she thinks of herself as a spy! In this modern classic, Harriet struggles to make sense of the world around her by spying on neighbors and friends and keeping notes in her secret notebook, but when her friends find her notebook and read her blunt and sometimes cruel observations, Harriet discovers that, sometimes, curiosity has to be channeled to be used to its best effect. Harriet is a complex and fascinating character, and in the years since the book has been published, she has inspired many children to start sleuthing themselves — perhaps your Mighty Girl will be one of them.
Beloved Mighty Girl detective Nancy Drew has seen many reimaginings over the years. In The Nancy Drew Diaries, the character is given a more modern bent, with contemporary settings and a first-person narration that is more engaging for many tween readers. This box set includes the first ten novels from this updated series, full of mysteries — from murder on an Alaskan cruise to an explosion on a movie set — perfect for young mystery fans who won't want to wait until they can solve the next mysterious crime.
Wilma Tenderfoot isn't driven to become a detective by fame and fortune; she just wants to figure out who her parents are. So when she discovers that her new neighbor is a renowned detective, she's determined to become his assistant and learn the trade. But having an overeager and unskilled 10-year-old and her evidence-eating dog around isn't exactly conducive to solving a mystery. Can Wilma prove her mettle and discover the perpetrator fast enough to impress the daring detective? Funny, wacky, and full of heart, this middle-grade mystery is a wild ride!
Sophie Young and Grace Yang are best friends who have made a game out of spying on their neighbors. But when they see a bloody scene at the home of Dr. Charlotte Agford, their bizarre middle school counselor, it turns out that she was just making a batch of pickled beets... or was she? Soon Dr. Agford is acting even weirder than usual, and the girls are determined to find out what's going on. But it's not the secret codes, tailing strangers, and mysterious events that are the most problematic; it's the stress on their friendship. Can the two young detectives solve the case and stay best friends? Charming and funny, this story will particularly speak to tweens navigating the difficult waters of middle school friendships. Sophie and Grace return in this year's The Tiara on the Terrace.
Emily's literary idol, Garrison Griswold, lives in San Francisco — something that makes her move to the city a lot more exciting! He's the creator of Book Scavenger, a game where books are hidden in cities around the country. But when she arrives, Emily learns that Griswold has been attacked and no one knows anything about the epic new game he was just about to launch. When Emily and her friend James discover a strange book, they find themselves rushing from clue to clue, trying to find the secret — before whoever attacked Griswold comes after them too. This fun adventure, sprinkled with mysteries and ciphers, is sure to appeal to mystery fans. Don't forget to check out the conclusion of the story in the newly released The Unbreakable Code.
What list of Mighty Girl mysteries would be complete without Nancy Drew? This starter box set includes the first four original Nancy Drew mysteries, with vibrant new cover art that references the era when the books were written. Start her love affair with this teen detective with The Secret of the Old Clock, in which Nancy and her friend Helen search for a clock that might hold the will of a deceased man. Along the way, they'll hunt for clues, prove that the motivations of the Tophams, the presumptive heirs, are not as clear as people think, and even evade a gang of burglars! Fans of Nancy Drew can also check out our Nancy Drew Collection for a wide variety of products featuring the character, from classic novels to modern interpretations.
Despite — or perhaps because of — their place as town misfits, Tru and Nelle are best friends who love playing detective — which turns out to be honing their observation skills for their future careers as authors! In this fictionalized account of Truman Capote and Harper Lee's childhood friendship, their penchant for sleuthing turns into a bit of a tangle when their investigation into a drugstore theft results in some real-life trouble for the daring pair. Soon, they're appearing at the courthouse and dodging the Ku Klux Klan. But not only will they solve the mystery, but their childhood adventures will provide fodder for their adult writing. Young fans of To Kill A Mockingbird will be particularly intrigued by this portrait of Lee as a child.
When Sabrina and Daphne go to live with their mysterious grandmother, Relda Grimm, they discover a surprising family tradition: work as fairy-tale detectives! Since the time of their ancestors, the Brothers Grimm — whose fairy tales were actually case files — the family has kept tabs on the Everafters... some of whom are good and some of whom are very, very bad. And when a malicious Everafter sets a giant loose on their rural New York town, it's time for Sabrina and Daphne to take up the mantle and solve the mystery! Fans will particularly enjoy spotting the many fairy-tale references in this whimsical and clever book. And if she loves the first book, the story of the Sisters Grimm continues in their second book, The Unusual Suspects.
This unique detective series sprang from another one: Ruby Redfort is a fictional friend of Lauren Childs' character Clarice Bean who turned out to be so popular, she got her own book! After the contents of her house are stolen, genius code-breaker and daring detective Ruby Redfort finds herself forced to work for the international spy agency Spectrum. But with a little work — and some clever observations — Ruby might be able to solve the case and save the world at the same time. Funny and action-packed, this is sure to be a hit! Fans of Ruby can continue her story in Ruby Redfort: Take Your Last Breath.
In 1920s Chicago, Isabel is already unique as the only girl selling copies of the Tribune on the street corner. But she's got bigger dreams: in fact, Isabel wants to be a news reporter, just like her idol, Maude Collier. So at first she's thrilled when she stumbles across Collier at a real-live murder scene... until the police accuse an innocent friend. Now, instead of devoting her time to the news, Isabel has to turn her investigative skills to solving the mystery of the real killer! With short, cliffhanger chapters and an atmosphere crackling with guns, gangsters, and 1920s reality and glamour, this is a middle-grade mystery she'll find hard to put down!
Eleven-year-old Nell Warne has only one option left before she's consigned to the House of the Friendless: Aunt Kate, who just happens to be Kate Warne, the first-ever female detective of the Pinkerton Detective Agency. Fortunately, it's quickly obvious that Nell can be very useful — not just around the house, but also in Aunt Kate's investigations. Against a backdrop of events that will forever change Civil War-era America, Nell will solve more than one case... including one about her own family's past. An extensive author's note tells middle grade readers about the real-life Kate Warne and her involved the Pinkerton Detective Agency, as well as providing solutions to the ciphers in the story.
Abigail is determined to escape from her terribly boring boarding school...but when her escape attempt fails, she learns her school is more interesting than she thought! The school is actually a cover for an elite spy ring called The Center, and Abigail's mother, The Center's top agent, has gone missing in action. Rumor has it that she has critical information that many people would give anything to possess. Abigail has to learn spy training fast, because even with the help of a former nemesis and a boy from her grade, she doesn't have much time to solve the mystery and save her mother. And answers may be closer than she thinks... Fast-paced and full of twists and turns, this will be a hit with young would-be spies!
Curious Sammy is checking out the neighborhood through her grandmother's binoculars when she sees something strange at the Heavenly Hotel. Soon, she realizes that she's watching a thief in action — and worse, that the thief saw her, too! She decides she has to go to the police, but they're skeptical, and even suspicious that she may be up to mischief. Sammy's going to need to solve the mystery and prove the thief's identity if she's going to prevent wary eyes from falling on her own situation! It will take some real puzzling for readers to figure out the solution before Sammy does... Fans of this book can follow Sammy in the second book in the series, Sammy Keyes and the Skeleton Man.
In the Deepdean School for Girls in 1930s Britain, Daisy Wells, a brash Sherlock Holmes fan, and Hazel Wong, a Hong Kong immigrant still finding her feet in her new home, are best friends who've formed a detective agency... except they don't have anything to investigate. But that changes when Hazel stumbles across the body of their science teacher — which then disappears. Now Hazel and Daisy have to gather clues, spy on suspects, and use every bit of their deductive powers, not just to solve the crime, but to prove that it happened in the first place! And as they do, their friendship will be stretched to the limit. An engaging tale starring two distinct and appealing characters, this will become a fast favorite. The adventures of this detective duo continues in their second volume, Poison is Not Polite.
13-year-old Ingrid Levin-Hill finds herself in the midst of a mystery that gets curioser and curioser! After winning the lead in a local theatrical production of Alice in Wonderland, Ingrid finds herself tied to the murder of the eccentric woman who was affiliated with the troupe. So in the midst of soccer games, rehearsals, schoolwork, and day-to-day family life, she also finds herself caught up in a real-life mystery — just like her hero, Sherlock Holmes. Can she keep all the balls in the air and still find the killer? The main character of this mystery is believable and appealing, and tweens will enjoy spotting the witty references to Lewis Carroll's classic. Ingrid's story continues in Behind the Curtain.
When Sophie, Margaret, and Rebecca helped out a woman who lives across from their school, they had no idea that they'd end up hiding under tables, tackling world puzzles, and solving geometry problems in a race to solve a mystery! The woman is estranged from her daughter, but she thinks she knows how to become close again: she's found the first step of a scavenger hunt that's supposed to lead to a ring that can grant wishes. But nothing is simple — especially not with family problems and boy friends who might be turning into boyfriends — so can the girls follow the clues and solve the mystery in time? This twisty, adventurous novel provides a perfect blend of mystery and math. For more from this trio, check out the second volume, The Red Blazer Girls: The Vanishing Violin.
Why not mix a little extra fantasy in with your detective story? Gilda Joyce has been sharpening her psychic skills ever since her father died, determined to become an investigator of spooky mysteries involving spirits from the Other Side. And she gets a chance to test her skills when she visits her uncle and his strange daughter, whose home is being stalked by a tortured ghost, drawn by a family secret. As she investigates, Gilda writes notes to her father on his old typewriter, eloquently capturing her grief and love for him. The supernatural element and precarious situations will thrill tween readers. Gilda's story continues in Gilda Joyce: the Ladies of the Lake.
Nancy Springer imagines a sister for famous detective Sherlock Holmes in this engrossing middle-grade novel. With her mother missing, Enola Holmes sets out for London to search for her — but it's not long before she's pulled into even more mystery! Soon, she's investigating the kidnapping of a marquess, evading dangerous villains (and her older brothers), and trying to put together the puzzle pieces to figure out where Mrs. Holmes has gone. Tweens will love this two-in-one mystery story that emphasizes just how revolutionary Enola's pluck, intelligence, and independence makes her in Victoria society. The mysteries continue in the next book in the series, The Case of the Left-Handed Lady.
Young orphan and thief Mary Quinn finds herself like many unfortunates in 1850s London: consigned to the gallows. That is, until she's rescued, and offered an unusual opportunity for education at Miss Scrimshaw's Academy for Girls. The Academy, it turns out, is actually the front for an all-female detective group called The Agency. And after polishing her skills, Mary is assigned to infiltrate the home of a rich merchant in search of information about his missing ships. Of course, the household is full of danger and deception, but if Mary succeeds, she might find more than a career... she might learn more about her own past. Intriguing and atmospheric, this book is perfect for teen mystery fans. Mary's story continues in the second book of the series, The Body at the Tower.
When Abigail Rook travels to New Fiddleham, New England, in 1892, she knows she's going to need a job — and that could be hard to come by. Then she meets R.F. Jackaby, an investigator with an eye for the occult and mysterious. Abigail, on the other hand, has a knack for noticing ordinary but important details, making her the perfect match as Jackaby's assistant. Soon, she's embroiled in a thrilling case: a serial killer the police believe is human but Jackaby is sure is something else. With a unique blend of science and supernatural, plus a hearty dash of historical detail, teen readers are sure to want to continue following Abigail and Jackaby's adventures in Beastly Bones, Ghostly Echoes, and the newly released conclusion The Dire King.
Mademoiselle Geraldine's Finishing Academy for Young Ladies of Quality is not your ordinary finishing school. When Sophronia is banished there by her exasperated mother, she's expecting lessons on how to curtsy; instead, she discovers that Mademoiselle Geraldine trains young women to be part spy, part assassin, and part lady of quality. It's going to be quite the first year at school for Sophronia.... Author Gail Carriger has created a fascinating steampunk world (complete with a finishing school in a series of dirigibles and mechanimal pets) that will enthrall teens. Interested readers can continue the series in book 2, Curtsies and Conspiracies.
Sixteen-year-old Marigold "Goldie" Vance has big plans! Her divorced father runs a Florida resort, and Goldie is determined that she'll be the one to take over the in-house detective position. Of course, the current detective, Charles, isn't crazy about her idea! But when he runs into a case that he can't crack, he relents and agrees to take her on as a student... if she'll help him solve the mystery. With her father busy managing the resort, and her mother working as a live mermaid in a downtown club, she's got the perfect opportunity to prove she's got the chops of a detective. This exciting mystery adventure will delight would-be detectives! Fans of this volume can also pick up the newly released Goldie Vance, Volume 2.
Evaline Stoker — the sister of Dracula author Bram Stoker — and Mina Holmes — the niece of the indomitable Sherlock — never planned to get involved in either family business. But when two society girls disappear, it turns out that mystery and the supernatural are in the blood, and Evaline and Mina can't help but investigate. But to do that, they'll have to work with a single clue, a strange clockwork scarab, and manage the advances of three different young gentlemen. Oh, and resolve their own rivalry at the same time. And if they don't find the solution in time, they might just end up the next victims... Steampunk, vampires, and traditional detective stories make for a rollicking combination that's sure to keep her flipping pages. This exciting series continues with The Spiritglass Charade.
The big mystery of the summer is: who killed Annabel Harper, the teen beauty queen who was found dead in the pool at an elite tennis club? Best friends Evie and Chelsea decide to try to find out, eavesdropping on conversations and following the lead detective on the case. Chapters alternate between Chelsea's voice, telling the story of the weeks before Annabel was found dead, and Evie's, talking about after, and it soon becomes clear that the pieces don't fit together as expected. As Evie overcomes bullying for her size and discovers a talent for tennis — which somehow eludes her tennis-pro father — and Chelsea slowly reveals her own history of abuse and trauma, teen readers will eagerly flip pages to learn the truth...and get surprised with a startling twist. Don't be surprised if they reread it right away to look for all the clues!
Flavia de Luce is an aspiring chemist with a particular interest in poisons, but in her 1950s English village, she's definitely the oddball. But her talents for listening at keyholes and picking locks come in handy when a series of mysterious events come to the mansion at Buckshaw: first a dead bird on the doorstep with a postage stamp on its beak, then a dying man in the family's cucumber patch. No matter what happens, Flavia can't help but admit that her life began in earnest once murder came calling! Rollicking and intriguing, this is an excellent option for teens and adults alike. You can continue the series with The Weed that Strings the Hangman's Bag.
Fifteen-year-old Julia Beaufort-Stuart wakes up in the hospital and learns that on her journey home to her grandfather's estate, someone hit her hard on the head...but she doesn't remember who or why. Euan McEwen, the Scottish Traveller boy who found her, and his intelligent and suspicious sister, Ellen, might be the key to Julie finding out what happened — and to solving the mystery of a disappearing employee and a cup full of missing river pearls. But Julie may not have time to reconstruct her memory: prejudice and bias against Travellers make Euan and Ellen the perfect targets for police who would rather just wrap up the whole business if Julie can't figure it out in time. A complex mystery and an enthralling setting make this prequel to Code Name Verity a fast-paced and exciting read.
Additional Recommended Resources
- For more suspenseful Mighty Girl stories, including more detective tales, visit our Mystery & Suspense Collection.
- Fans of the first teen girl detective, Nancy Drew, can find more products starring her in our Nancy Drew Collection.
- Budding detectives should check out the Master Detective Toolkit (age 8 and up) to explore what real evidence collection is all about.
- For fun mystery-solving puzzles on the go, check out Bella's Mystery Deck and Bella's Mystery Deck 2, each of which contain 50 mystery cards (with solutions.)