It was Professor Plum in the billiard room with the revolver. No, no, no, it was the Butler in the kitchen with the rope! This week’s Monday Poll about our favorite teen detectives got me thinking about my favorite YA mysteries. And it was the Castle marathon I’ve been having this summer and a friend’s social media commentary on her Veronica Mars re-watch that got me thinking about my favorite YA murder mysteries.
Much like Ms. Mars’s first season attempting to solve her best friend’s murder, here are some of my favorite murder mysteries and the protagonists who attempted to solve them.
- What I Saw and How I Lied (2011 Amazing Audiobook, 2009 Best Book for Young Adults) and Strings Attached (2011 Readers’ Choice Nomination) by Judy Blundell
Blundell has a fabulous writing style for mysteries. Reading her books always gives me the impression that I’m actually watching a film noir movie. It’s that easy to be transported to the worlds in her stories. Both books have a strong sense of place and time. The main characters are not your typical detective characters, but rather they struggle through their coming-of-age arcs while also trying to solve the central mysteries.
- The Body at the Tower (The Agency #2) by Y.S. Lee
Love the premise of Lee’s entire series. It’s a super-secret, all-female spy agency set in Victorian England! The second installment finds Mary Quinn needing to solve a murder mystery at the construction site of the Houses of Parliament. Mary is a great character, and a refreshing one since she’s not just another white high school girl detective. It’s also nice that the covers of Lee’s books reflect her character’s actual ethnicity.
- The Book of Blood and Shadow by Robin Wasserman
This one reads like a teen version of a Dan Brown book. It has the strong sense of place in a European country, and it has the crazy historical mythology that would lead anyone down a rabbit hole. Highly recommend the audiobook. The narrator is fabulous, and Wasserman employs so many different languages in her novel, including Latin, that this was definitely a fun listen.
- The Lovely Bones by Alice Sebold (2003 Best Books for Young Adults)
This one gets the nostalgia award, since it was one of my favorite murder mysteries when I was actually in high school. It’s such an interesting concept for a book. I mean, the main character is dead, and the reader spends the whole book trying to solve her murder. It also gets the award for best use of an icicle in a story.
Your turn, readers — do you have any favorite YA murder mysteries? Do you think the Butler did it, or was it Professor Plum in the billiard room?
— Katie Shanahan, currently reading City of Lost Souls by Cassandra Clare