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Stuff for the Teen Age

It's a Mysterious Life: New and Not-So-New Teen Mystery Novels


If I had to pin down my favorite genres of fiction they would be: numero uno mystery/thriller, followed closely by romance and historical fiction (I love fantasy and sometimes sci-fi too but that is another blog post). I know I have found my own personal nirvana when I find a book that has all three! There has been a recent resurgence of great teen mystery titles in the past few years in teen book publishing. Books that have classic mystery plots and where teen detectives are at the forefront of the story.

Here are some of my new favorites that are in collections now:


All Unquiet Things by Anna Jarzab

This debut novel by a young author, blew me away when I read it this past January. With a dead girl on the cover, it sets up a claustrophobic murder mystery of a young woman told in two voices. Neily was dumped by Carly over a year before her murder but he was still the last phone call she made before her death and he was the one to find her dead body early the next morning. Audrey, Carly's cousin, is back in town for the first time since the trial, she blames herself for the fast crowd Carly was running with but she is out to prove that they have the wrong murderer in jail, her father. Together these two frenemies argue, bicker and sleuth their way to the truth of a small town murder to find peace for Carly and themselves.

Its atmospheric portrayal of small town secrets and lies is reminiscent of the excellent The Body of Christopher Creed by Carol Plum-Ucci. There is no doubt that this will end up on many year-end best book lists. It is a perfect read for summer.



The Agency: A Spy in the House (A Mary Quinn Mystery) by Y.S. Lee

Full disclosure: Mysteries set in historical time periods are my ABSOLUTE favorite books! And, if they happen to have a smidgeon of romance too well, then, like I said, pure NIRVANA!

Set in Victorian era London, England (circa 1850), 17 year old Mary Quinn, an orphan, has been living at an academy for young ladies since she was rescued from the gallows (where she was to be hanged for stealing) at the age of 12. Now having been educated and made into a proper young lady, she is summoned by the two young headmistresses. She is told that because of her previous skills she is going to be trained to be a spy for a top secret, all-women, spy agency as women can go and discover things where men cannot. Her first assignment will be to act as a companion for a pretty, spoiled daughter of a rich merchant and along the way, try and discover the whereabouts of some missing cargo ships. If that wasn't enough, Mary must also contend with the attentions of a mysterious, handsome young man, James Easton, who is doing some investigating of his own.

Another debut novel, this atmospheric mystery is full of historical, period details. The author, Lee, has a Phd in Victorian literature and culture and it shows. Mary is a heroine to root for and the mystery does keep you guessing as do some details about Mary's past life. If you are historical romance lover you will not be disappointed either as James has great romantic potential. Book one in a trilogy, book two "The Body at the Tower" comes out this August ( I have read it already and loved it!). I am really hoping that Lee and the publisher Candlewick do more with this series after the third book comes out because they are that good!

Other great teen mystery series:

Kiss Me, Kill Me by Lauren Henderson

A modern Nancy Drew and gymnast, sassy British girl Scarlett Wakfield solves mysteries with the help of her tough, American sidekick Taylor McGovern. Her sleuthing skills come in handy when a hot boy Scarlett kisses at a party falls dead at her feet - mid-kiss. Full of teen angst and snark, these frothy mysteries would be the perfect addition to any beach bag, picnic basket or airplane carry-on bag. (additional volumes include: Kisses and Lies and Kiss in the Dark.)


The Christopher Killer: A Forensic Mystery by Alane Ferguson

This series is for CSI lovers. Smart, small town girl Cameryn Mahoney wants to be a forensic pathologist so its lucky that her father is the local coroner and willing to take her on as an assistant. Whats not so lucky is that her first case involves a serial killer and his local victim turns out to be a friend of hers. Full of grossly realistic crime scenes, these books are for readers with strong stomachs. However, they are also top-notch mysteries with great pacing and details and they come with a just a tad of romance to keep things really interesting. For hard core mystery lovers, this series is not to be missed. (additional volumes include: The Angel of Death, The Circle of Blood and The Dying Breath).


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