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  • Writer's pictureMaryna

6 Suspenseful Mystery Books for Tweens

Here are 6 mysteries for tweens ages 8-12. I’ve read all of these books and enjoyed them.


If the book is in a series and its sequel isn’t listed here, I have not read it and cannot vouch for it. But I’ve found these titles below to be fun, mysterious, and full of suspense and tension.


The books are listed in order of publishing date so you can see how recent the titles are. In addition, I’ve written a short summary for each mystery book and some bullet points outlining extra things I liked about the book.


1.     Sincerely, Diary by Maryna Doughty (that’s me!)

Published: 2023

Annamarie, an 11-year-old girl, writes in her diary about wanting a best friend and feeling jealous about her dad’s favoritism of her younger sister. She’s surprised to find out that her diary can write back to her. After spilling secrets about the popular girls, crushing on cute boys, and a neighbor girl across the street, Annamarie realizes that a page from her diary goes missing! She and Diary work to find out who the culprit is. But time is running out. Annamarie’s reputation is on the line and could be ruined if anyone finds out her secrets. Unfortunately, she’s not the only one hiding things. It’s only a matter of time before the truth comes out.

More fun things about this book:

  • It includes over 35 illustrations and maps

  • It’s written entirely in diary entries with two different fonts (see photo below)

  • Reads like a back-and-forth texting conversation between Annamarie and Diary; perfect for reluctant readers

  • Includes fashion; Annamarie and her friends create a fashion company and draw clothing items

  • Teaches kids about the importance of honesty and not to change who you are just to please people

  • Models the right way for kids to fix their mistakes if they’ve given into peer pressure

  • Has a surprise ending that will totally catch you off guard

  • Adults can download a free book club bundle to use with this book (includes things like a list of vocabulary words and page numbers, figurative language (similes) practice sheets, fashion journal pages, a printable board game, and more! Check it out here.


Above Photo: a peek inside Sincerely, Diary (p. 14-15)


To buy Sincerely, Diary, go here.


2.     The Case of the Robbed Recipe by Amanda Trumpower

Published: 2022

Mittens Meow (a cat) and her colleague Alex Digger (a dog) set out to solve the mystery of who stole Grandma Basset’s recipe for her 200th dog treat flavor. The two sleuths search for clues in Grandma Basset’s office, and when they find a mysterious red cloth, it sets them on chase to hunt down the culprit.

More fun things about this book:

  • It includes 10 illustrations throughout the book

  • Under 100 pages; perfect for reluctant readers who like short, easy books

  • It opens with a Bible verse, stating the theme of the story, so readers know exactly the lesson they should learn from this book

  • Includes a five-page devotional at the end of the book with reflection questions

  • Includes a glossary at the end; perfect for teachers or homeschool parents who want to review certain terms with kids


3.     Chasing Secrets by Gennifer Choldenko

Published: 2016

Set in San Francisco in the year 1900, this mystery stars a girl named Lizzie whose father is a physician. Suspicions rise when Chinatown gets put under quarantine, but the newspapers keep denying there’s a plague. Who can Lizzie believe? Then, she finds Noah, the son of their missing Chinese cook, hiding in their attic, causing Lizzie to question everything. Now Lizzie and Noah must go on a quest to find out the truth about what’s really going on in San Francisco.

More fun things about this book:

  • It opens with a map of the San Francisco Bay and the different buildings the characters reside in and visit

  • It’s historical fiction, so kids learn about how life was in the early 1900s (how they dressed, traveled, and even how they went to the bathroom!)

  • The story is based on the true event of the bubonic plague in San Francisco in 1900

  • A glossary and a timeline of actual events is included at the end


4.     Murder Is Bad Manners by Robin Stevens

Published: 2016

Set in the 1930’s, Detectives Hazel Wong and Daisy Wells stumble upon a shocking mystery when Hazel discovers a dead body at their English boarding school. Although the girls have their very own detective agency and crave a good case, the two girls are not expecting to get thrust into solving a murder. Even more so, Hazel tries to present the evidence, but now the body is missing! Someone surely hid it and is covering up the truth. Who is it? And why did they kill Ms. Bell, the science teacher?

More fun things about this book:

  • The characters have their very own detective agency called the “Wells and Wong Detective Society”

  • The opening pages include a list of staff members and students at the boarding school, listing their names and roles

  • The list can be used to reference throughout the story to keep track of who’s who

  • Readers experience what it would be like to attend a boarding school

  • An illustration is included that lists the suspects and their motives

  • Throughout the story, the characters edit the list, crossing out suspects, adding details and info to other suspects’ names and motives

  • The story is written in first person point of view; and the book acts as Hazel’s notebook, where she breaks their case into eight parts

  • The end of the book includes a glossary of terms specific to the girls at the boarding school

  • Readers learn a good lesson about speaking up, especially with friends


5.     Book Scavenger by Jennifer Chambliss Bertman

Published: 2015

Emily is a twelve-year-old girl who just moved to San Francisco, which happens to be where Garrison Griswold lives too. He’s the creator of the game Book Scavenger, where kids can search for clues to find hidden books around town. Unfortunately, right before Garrison Griswold announces his next game, some criminals assault him, and he ends up in a coma. Luckily, Emily and her friend James find the book Garrison was carrying before the criminals get it, and the two friends discover the book has hidden clues in it that might reveal Garrison’s next game. They work together to solve puzzles and find new clues before they become the criminals’ next victims.

More fun things about this book:

  • It includes fun codes, where the characters make up languages using a substitution cipher

  • Illustrations of the ciphers are included, so kids can use them if they want to write in code, too

  • Encourages critical thinking

  • The end of the book includes an author’s note that details the actual people, places, and books that inspired this novel


6.     Regarding the Fountain: A Tale, in Letters, of Liars and Leaks by Kate Klise

Published: 1998

This novel has a very unique structure. It is written strictly through letters, memos, postcards, and the like. It features a fifth-grade class whose school water fountain is broken. The students set out to fix it, but instead they uncover corruption.

More fun things about this book:

  • It’s filled with illustrations

  • It’s written in a unique format so kids won’t feel like they’re reading a book, but rather a compilation of letters, postcards, notes, newspaper articles, etc. (which is perfect for reluctant readers)

  • There’s a lot of fun wordplay and names revolving around water

  • The story is very light-hearted with nothing too heavy or scary




Which of these six mystery books for tweens do you want to read and why? Let me know in the comments!


And remember, if you’re looking for a free book club bundle to go along with my book, Sincerely, Diary, go here.

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