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Go, Go, Girl Detectives

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Nancy Drew cracked her first case in 1930, long before anyone coined the term “middle-grade.”

It’s safe to say that 8-12 year olds are prime candidates for fun detective stories, and ol’ Nance isn’t the only game in town anymore! So we’ve compiled a list of series starring girl sleuths, for kids of any gender.

(Hat tip to the ALA Think Tank Facebook group, which is full of brilliant library folks, and which gets the credit for this idea and the suggestions on this list! Also, to investigate more books, check out A Mighty Girl’s amazing compilation.)

maggie

Maggie Brooklyn Sinclair
Smart and sneaky Maggie is a fabulous detective—and she has her own dog-walking business in Brooklyn. She sniffs out clues to neighborhood mysteries, like missing dogs held for ransom and movie stars who disappear while shooting on location.

First book in the series: Girl’s Best Friend by Leslie Margolis

 

 

 

theodosia

Theodosia Throckmorton
Mummies, magic, museums, alchemy, tea and crumpets… Theo’s adventures at the London museum where her parents work take her to Egypt and back, solving mysteries and tracking down treasures.

First book in the series: Theodosia and the Serpents of Chaos by R.L. LaFevers

 

 

 

emily

Emily Crane
Who hasn’t dreamed about investigating “the Willy Wonka of book publishing”?! Sign us up.

First book in the series: Book Scavenger by Jennifer Chambliss Bertman

 

 

 

 

 

enola

Enola Holmes
If Sherlock had a kid sister, she’d be solving mysteries too, of course. Enola hunts for clues about missing people, starting with her own mother.

First book in the series: The Case of the Missing Marquess by Nancy Springer

 

 

 

 

irene

Irene Adler
Another Sherlock series! In this one, kid Irene—same (fictitious) name as the author—meets kid Sherlock and his best friend, and the triple threat begins solving mysteries the moment they discover a dead body on the French coast in the late 19th century.

First book in the series: The Dark Lady by Irene Adler

 

 

 

red blazer

The Red Blazer Girls
Right here in New York City, three friends from St. Veronica’s School on East 68th Street work together and use some serious skills to solve mysteries with logic, smarts, and good old-fashioned mathematics.

First book in the series: The Ring of Rocamadour by Michael D. Beil

 

 

 

 

flavia

Flavia de Luce
Armed only with her trusty bicycle, Gladys, the inimitable Flavia investigates crimes and chemistry in 1950s London.

First book in the series: The Sweetness at the Bottom of the Pie by Alan Bradley

 

 

 

 

lady ada

Lady Ada Byron and Mary Godwin
What a premise! Alt-history in which Mary Shelley and Ada Lovelace meet as kids and form the Wollstonecraft Detective Agency to fight crime and solve mysteries.

First book in the series: The Case of the Missing Moonstone by Jordan Stratford

 

 

 

 

penelope

Miss Penelope Lumley
Who can resist an English governess? Certainly not the Incorrigible Children of Ashton Place, who are literally being raised by wolves in this clever twist of a mystery series.  

First book in the series: The Mysterious Howling by Maryrose Wood

 

 

 

 

moses

Moses LoBeau

A little town in North Carolina is the setting for the adventures of “Miss Moses LoBeau, rising sixth grader.” Her adventures range from investigating a murderer to trying to find her own birth mother.

First book in the series: Three Times Lucky by Sheila Turnage

 

 

 

gilda

Gilda Joyce
Funny, spooky, and exciting, Gilda’s adventures finding ghosts and investigating haunted houses invoke hiding under the covers with a flashlight.

First book in the series: Gilda Joyce, Psychic Investigator by Jennifer Allison

 

 

 

 

sammy

Sammy Keyes
The Psycho Kitty Queen, Moustache Mary, the Hollywood Mummy… the people (and non-people) who go up against clever Sammy are some of the most colorful in the genre.

First book in the series: Sammy Keyes and the Hotel Thief by Wendelin van Draanen

 

 

 

 

lucy

Lucy Carlyle
Ghost tales meet detective stories in the established Lockwood & Co. series, which stars a brave girl investigating spooky hauntings in a suspense-filled London.

First book in the series: The Screaming Staircase by Jonathan Stroud

 

 

 

 

Have trouble reading standard print? Many NYPL titles are available in formats for patrons with print disabilities.

Staff picks are chosen by NYPL staff members and are not intended to be comprehensive lists. We'd love to hear your ideas too, so leave a comment and tell us what you’d recommend. And check out our Staff Picks browse tool for more recommendations!

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I enjoy these types of books.

I enjoy these types of books. Very spooky and genuinely scary descriptive scenes make these stories appealing at any age.

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