Younger Sleuths

After taking a look at senior citizen sleuths, I visited the youth room and the children’s room at our library and found some fun mysteries.


The Wizard of Dark Street: an Oona Crate mystery by S. Odyssey

It is 1877, and 12-year-old Oona is the Wizard’s Apprentice of Dark Street.

Being the Wizard’s Apprentice is an important task, but what Oona longs to be is a detective.  Soon she must become one to solve one of the most important cases imaginable.  Her helpers are Deacon, a black raven that can talk, and Samuligan, the Wizard’s faerie servant. It is a well plotted story that would stand up favorably against any “adult” mystery.  The necessary clues are there, if you can see them; the outcome logical.  And there is the magic element that makes it so much fun.


The Case of the Missing Marquess: an Enola Holmes mystery by Nancy Springer

Enola Holmes is the much younger sister of Sherlock and Mycroft Holmes. When her mother goes missing, Enola’s brothers decide that she should go to boarding school. Enola is horrified at the thought of boarding school and decides to take the search for her mother into her own hands and runs off to London.  Here she encounters her first mystery and shows us that detection runs solidly in the family genes.


Hoot by Carl Hiaasen

In this Newbery Honor book (2003) for young adults there are some very intriguing characters.  Among them:  Officer Delinko, who manages to get the windows of his Crown Vic police car spray painted black when he falls asleep on stakeout duty;  Curly, a beleaguered construction foreman;  Garrett, the king of phony farts;  Mullet, a run-away with a cause;  Beatrice the Bear, Mullet Finger’s sister;  as well as poisonous snakes with sparkly tails, alligators in the portable latrines on the construction site, slippery fish and, most important of all, owls.  It also raises the question – what actions are acceptable when the cause is worthy?


Chasing Vermeer by Blue Balliett

Petra is trying to solve a complex mystery surrounding a painting. She also wonders if perhaps humans need questions more than they need answers; why yellow is a happy color and whether ideas and thoughts have a life of their own. She also begins to see the possibility that the world changes if/when we change our view of what we are seeing. Good characters. It’s the start of an enjoyable YA series.


The Midnight Tunnel by Angie Frazier

This fun mystery features an 11-yr-old girl who wants to be a detective like her uncle.  When a young child goes missing from the inn her parents manage, and her uncle is called in to investigate, it is Suzanna that solves the mystery.  I hope that this turns out to be a series.  Suzanna isn’t a clone of Flavia de Luce, nor does she try to be, but she is a very enjoyable, smart, determined kid and, like Flavia, she’s very much a kid.  The book is in our library’s junior fiction department, unlike Flavia who is found roaming the adult department


The Sweetness at the Bottom of the Pie by Alan Bradley

Youth should not be put off by the fact that Flavia’s mysteries are in the adult fiction section.  They will enjoy her.  Alan Bradley has commented that Flavia de Luces walked “full-blown” onto the pages of another book he was writing and “hijacked the story”.  I can believe this.  Flavia is an utterly unique, eleven-year-old heroine. She is a totally smart, precocious and believable person with a deep and abiding interest in chemistry and poisons. She has a running feud with her sisters.  She’s a kid.  But she is smart, and when her father is arrested for murder she is determined to prove him innocent.


Death Cloud by Andrew Lane

Here our hero is the young Sherlock Holmes about to solve his very first case. He isn’t a miniature version of the adult Holmes but you learn the origin of some of Sherlock’s habits. It’s a good read.

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