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Mysteries for Middle Grade (4th-6th) and Young Adult Readers
Check out the Spies/Thrillers category as well. Many books are hard to classify in one or the other

Many books listed for 9 and up are also good for young adult readers. These days there is quite a bit of crossover between the two levels of fiction. The Harry Potter books are good example of books enjoyed both by a 10-yr-old and a 15-yr-old.



Adventure books for kids



Ages 12 and up

Tokyo Heist Diana Renn, 384 pages 
"When sixteen-year-old Violet agrees to spend the summer with her father, an up-and-coming artist in Seattle, she has no idea what she's walking into. Her father's newest clients, the Yamada family, are the victims of a high-profile art robbery: van Gogh sketches have been stolen from their home, and, until they can produce the corresponding painting, everyone's lives are in danger--including Violet's and her father's.

Violet's search for the missing van Gogh takes her from the Seattle Art Museum, to the yakuza-infested streets of Tokyo, to a secluded inn in Kyoto. As the mystery thickens, Violet's not sure whom she can trust. But she knows one thing: she has to solve the mystery--before it's too late."

Viking, 2012

Ages 9 and up

Hocus Pocus Hotel by Michael Dahl, 216 pages
“Ever since it was built by the great magician Abracadabra, the hotel Tyler Yu lives in has had its share of mysterious events. Ghost wandering the halls, a magician who vanishes into thin air-Ty can’t figure these things out on his own. But Charlie Hitchcock, with his photographic memory, might be just he partner the school bully needs. Together they’ll solve magical mysteries beyond your wildest imagination.”
Stone Arch Books, 2012

Ages 9 and up

Madhatten Mystery by John J. Bonk, 304 pages
"All set to spend their summer in New York City with their aunt while their father is honeymooning with his new wife, Lexi and her younger brother Kevin’s snoozy summer plans turn into high-stakes adventure when Lexi overhears a plot to steal Cleopatra’s famous jewels from the Metropolitan Museum of Art. Joining forces with budding investigative journalist Kim Ling Levine, they ditch day camp to track down the thieves and rake in the reward money. Can Lexi, Kevin, and Kim find out who’s behind the jewel heist without getting into too much trouble themselves?"
Bloomsbury/Walker, 2012

Ages 9 and up

Dizzy Miss Lizzie by R.M. Clark, 174 pages

"Thirteen-year-old Kasey Madrid finally has the freedom she's always wanted. Instead of putting up with sitters or camps, she can spend the summer home alone in their "new" house. Never mind that the house is a creepy old place built in the nineteenth century. The creep factor skyrockets when Kasey meets a nineteenth-century girl named Lizzie Bellows in the basement. It takes some time for Lizzie to convince Kasey she's not a ghost, though neither girl understands why they can see each other when they live 120 years apart. The difference in their worlds doesn't stop the two from becoming fast friends.

Lizzie's life isn't easy though. In her time, her parents died in a fire many believe Lizzie started herself. As the summer passes and Kasey learns more about her own past, she is shocked to discover Lizzie is part of a terrible Madrid family secret. It's up to Kasey to go back to Lizzie's world to unlock the secret and clear Lizzie's name."

Back cover excerpt, Stanley Publishing, 2012


Books for reluctant readers



Adventure books for kids



Ages 9 and up

The Visconti House by Elsbeth Edgar, 287 pages 
"Fourteen-year-old Laura Horton doesn’t quite fit in. She lives in a crumbling mansion tht everyone calls “the haunted house,” and she has more in common with her parents’ eccentric artist friends than with the girls at school. So when loner Leon Murphy moves in next door, Laura avoids him at first; she doesn’t need anything self different or weird in her life.

But when Laura becomes obsessed with uncovering the history of her house – the Visconti House – she finds that Leon understands her need to know what happened to the lonely Italian gentleman who built it. Together, Laura and Leon begin to unearth the mansion’s history, a history of elegant dances, thwarted love, and secret rooms. In their quest for the truth, the unlikely pair forms a deep friendship. But will their friendship, sparked by a shared interest in the past, survive the present". Jacket cover excerpt, Candlewick Press, 2011 

Ages 9 and up

 Cold Case by Julia Platt Leonard, 281 pages,
"Thirteen-year-old Oz Keiller thinks he has a pretty normal life. Until he discovers a dead body in his family's Santa Fe restaurant. His older brother is the prime suspect in the murder, and Oz is shocked to learn the crime is tied to his dead father - a man Oz now finds out was accused of stealing nuclear secrets.

Desperate to clear his brother's name, Oz and his best friend, Rusty, embark on a perilous mission to uncover the real killer. It's a quest that will put his life in danger and challenge everything he though he knew about his family. And the answer he unearths may be much closer to home than he could have imagined."
Jacket cover excerpt, Aladdin, 2011

Ages 9 and up

The Mystery of the Missing Everything Ben H. Winters, 263 pages
"There has been a shocking crime at Mary Todd Lincoln Middle School. In a glass case in the front hall, a trophy—the trophy, the first trophy ever won in the school’s lackluster competitive history—has been stolen. Even more horrifying, an outraged Principal Van Vreeland has canceled everything fun until the trophy is back, including the eighth graders’ long-awaited, once-in-a-lifetime field trip to Taproot Valley. Rock climbing, ropes courses, ecology hikes, s’mores . . . all gone!

Luckily, Bethesda Fielding is on the case. As self-appointed sleuth extraordinaire, Bethesda’s confident she’ll be able to track down the culprit in no time and save her class trip! Except it seems like the more she searches for answers, the more mysteries she reveals. . . . Can Bethesda solve this baffling mystery—or are the eighth graders doomed for a Week of a Thousand Quizzes instead?"

Jacket Cover excerpt, Harper, 2011


Books for reluctant readers



Ages 12 and up

Death Cloud (book 1 of series) by Andrew Lane, 306 pages
"It is the summer of 1868, and Sherlock Holmes is fourteen. On break from boarding school, he is staying with relatives in the country and expecting a tedious vacation. Instead, he finds himself in the midst of a shocking murder mystery when two local men die from symptoms resembling the plague. When it becomes clear they have not died from natural causes, Holmes begins to investigate—and uncovers a diabolical plot. So begins his first battle of wits against a brilliantly sinister villain of viciously malign intent."

Back cover excerpt, Squarefish/MacMillan, 2010

Ages 12 and up

Hacking Timbuktu by Stephen Davies, 259 pages
“Timbuktu, 14th century. An enormous pile of gold..a daring thief… a cryptic clue. And then, centuries later, a mysterious map is discovered, and soon Danny and Omar are among the treasure hunters heading for Timbuktu. Danny is a professional hacker, and both boys are skilled at parkout-trained in moves that enable them to travel rapidly between any two points, regardless of obstacles.

This is fortunate, because Danny and Omar encounter plenty of obstacles, from a locked door to a coded map to a gang of high-tech competitors to an assassin on the same mission, eliminat6ing anyone who gets between him and the gold. Across London, on trains and planes, into the land of the Dogon-it’s a life-and-death race to the finish line…if only they can figure out where it is.” Jacket cover excerpt, Clarion Books, Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2010. 

Ages 9 and up

 Just Add Magic by Cindy Callaghan 229 pages

"Mix together three 12-year-old girls and one mysterious old recipe book. What do you get? A secret cooking club with a touch of magic! But the ancient book bears an eerie warning, and it doesn't take long for the girls to realize that their dishes are linked to strange occurrences. The Keep ‘Em Quiet cobbler actually silences Kelly's pesky little brother and the Hexberry Tart brings an annoying curse to mean girl Charlotte. And there is the Love Bug Juice, which seems to have quite the effect on those cute Rusamano boys...

Could these recipes really be magical? Who wrote them and where did they come from? And most important of all, what kind of trouble are the girls stirring up for themselves? Thing are about to get just a little too hot in Kelly Quinn's kitchen." Jacket cover excerpt, Aladdin, Simon and Schuster, 2010

Ages 9 and up

The Billionaire's Curse Richard Newsome 

"Gerald Wilkins never considered himself a particularly exceptional thirteen-year-old. But that was before he inherited twenty billion pounds, a Caribbean island, a yacht, and three estates from a great-aunt he never knew. With this fortune, however, comes a letter. One from his great-aunt Geraldine. One that tells Gerald that she was murdered, and that it's up to him to find out why. Along with his friends Ruby and Sam, Gerald embarks on a journey that will lead him from the British Museum to dodgy social clubs for the disgustingly rich to mansions in the English countryside to secret places far underground. Who was Geraldine Archer? And what secrets was she hiding? Unless Gerald, Sam, and Ruby can find out before the killer does, they many be next." Jacket cover excerpt, Walden Pond Press, An Imprint of HarperCollins Publishers, 2010

Ages 9 and up

Walls within Walls by Maureen Sherry, 342 pages

"After their father, a video-game inventor, strikes it rich, the Smithfork kids find they hate their new life. The move from their cozy Brooklyn neighborhodd to a swanky apartment on Manhattan’s Fifth Avenu. They have no friends, a nanny who takes the place of their parents, and a school year looming ahead that promises to be miserable.


And then, one day, Brid, CJ, and Patrick discover an astonishing secret about their apartment: The original owner, the deceased multimillionair Mr. Post, long ago turned the parrtment itself into a giant puzzle containing a nyserious book and hidden panels-a puzzle that, with some luck, courage and pbrainpower, will lead to discovering the Post family fortune. Unraveling the mystery causes them to race through today’s New York City-and to uncover some long-hidden secrets of the past.” Jacket cover excerpt, Katherine Tegen Books, HarperCollins, 2010

Ages 9 and up

The Seven Keys of Balabad Paul Haven, 271 pages

"Welcome to Balabad. Land of sweeet green tea, exotic spices, and cunningly made carpets. Birthplace of the international secret society known as the Brotherhood of Arachosia. And rumored hiding place of the grandest riches the world has ever known-the treasures of King Agamon. Balabad is also the place Oliver  Finch, a born-and-bred New Yorker, He has called it home ever since his father was reassigned to this dull dust bowl of a country. Each day runs in to the next for Oliver, until a five-hundred-year-old sacred carpet is stolen. Then one of the few friends he has disappears.

Oliver is determined to figure out what exactly is going on. But to do that, he'll have to consult with a one-eyd warrior, track down the far-flung members of the Brotherhood, and find the key that will unlock a centuries-old secret. Suddenly life in Balabad for Oliver has become a whole lot more interesting...and dangerous."  Jacket cover excerpt, Random House Children's Books, 2009


Ages 9 and up

The 100-Year-Old Secret (The Sherlock Files series) Tracy Barrett, 157 pages
Go to The Dancing Men and ask for a saucer of mild for your snake. Then all will be revealed. Xena and Xander Homes think living in London will be boring. But one afternoon, they’re handed a cryptic note that leads them to a hidden room-and a secret society. When they discover they’re related to Sherlock Holmes and inherit his unsolved casebook, life becomes so much more exciting. The siblings set out to solve the cases their famous ancestor couldn’t, starting with the mystery of a prized painting that vanished more than a hundred years ago. Can two smart twenty-first-century kids succeed where Sherlock Homes could not?”
Back cover excerpt, Square Fish, MacMillan, 2010



Ages 9 and up

The London Eye Mystery by Siobhan Dowd, 322 pages
"What goes up must come down...mustn't it? When Aunt Gloria's son, Salim, mysteriously disappears from a sealed pod on the London Eye, everyone is frantic. Has he spontaneously combusted? [Ted's theory.] Has he been kidnapped? [Aunt Gloria's theory.] Is he even still alive? [The family's unspoken fear.]

Even the police are baffled. Ted, whose brain runs on its own unique operating system, and his older sister Kat, overcome their picky relationship to become sleuthing partners. They follow a trail of clues across London in a desperate bid to find their cousin, while time ticks dangerously by..." Jacket cover excerpt, Random House, 2007



This site is maintained by author Dee Garretson, who writes her own adventure books. She does not get paid by the authors or the publishers to list these books. They are all her recommendations based on reading many, many books each year.


Teachers, Homeschoolers and Librarians:

Dee does complimentary 20 minute Skype visits with groups interested in talking about adventure books or writing. Contact her at deegarretson at gmail.com


Escape from Camp David:


  When disaster strikes and the security systems at Camp David go into lockdown, Luke Brockett, the President's son, and his friends must escape before it's too late.
Published by Harper, a divison of HarperCollins



  Sometimes filming a movie can go very wrong ... and turn all too real. Stefan Andris never expected his dream adventure to turn into a real-life survival story. Published by Harper, a division of HarperCollins


Art student Clary Ashton thought studying painting in Paris was a dream come true, until a murder and a royal assassination plot throw her between two dangerous men, a vicious revolutionary who will stop at nothing to carry out his plans and the young intrepid British secret agent determined to stop him.

Adventure books for kids