17 Best Mystery Books For Teens In 2024

Allow your teen to put the phone down and read a book instead. The best mystery books for teens are a great way to get kids started in the habit of reading books and improving their literary proficiency. Purchase some intriguing books and observe how children become engrossed in them. Once they’re engrossed, they wouldn’t care about what’s going on in the world of social media, nor would they complain to you about being bored.

Elisabeth Daly, a book blogger and English teacher, says, “Introducing mystery books to teenagers is a skillful way to engage even the most reluctant readers. Teens enjoy the suspense of not knowing what comes next, which encourages them to read until the end. Plus, these books can help improve their problem-solving and critical thinking skills.”

The mystery genre is exciting and thrilling and will keep even new readers engrossed till the end. In this post, we have listed some best-selling mystery books with intriguing plot twists for teens that your child might love reading.

In This Article

17 Best Mystery Books For Teens

Here is our list of the most popular mystery books for teens that will intrigue them.

1. Best Mind Reader: The Naturals By Jennifer Lynn Barnes

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4.5
The Naturals by Jennifer Lynn Barnes Image: Jennifer Lynn Barnes

Cassie, the 17-year-old protagonist of the book, is a ‘natural’. Cassie can read people’s minds – gather up the tiniest of details and recall them just like that. Years ago, Cassie’s mother was killed, but her body was never found. This haunted her throughout her childhood and into her teenage years. One day, the FBI comes knocking at her door. They recruit her, and a It will be teenagers with supernatural abilities, for a confidential program that involves solving notorious cold cases.

What no one foresees is that the project is more dangerous than solving a few homicides. Nobody in the Naturals project is what they appear to be. A killer strikes the scene, and the “Naturals” need to unite their powers for survival. The rest of the book tells you if and how they do it. Check out this review video to learn more about this time-tested classic.

What parents should know:

  • There is no strong language in the book
  • A shared kiss and easygoing flirting
  • Violence: characters are shot, stabbed or killed
Item Weight: 14.1 ounces
protip_icon Quick tip
When buying a book, read the reviews with four or three stars and no spoilers. These reviews are typically the most genuine and offer constructive criticism.

2. Best Mystery: A Study In Charlotte By Brittany Cavallaro

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4.2
A Study In Charlotte Image: Brittany Cavallaro

Watson’s and Holmes’ descendants Jamie Watson and Charlotte Holmes strive to live up to their ancestors’ legacies. Jamie Watson, a Londoner, is sent off to a posh boarding school in Sherringford, which is home to Charlotte Holmes, the great-great-great granddaughter of Sherlock Holmes. Jamie craves excitement, action, and romance, and finds her detective abilities thrilling. Charlotte is bitter, brilliant and has a weakness for opium. A Sherringford student turns up dead after harassing Charlotte and fighting with Watson. Jamie and Charlotte are framed for the brutal murder, and as danger mounts, the two don the role of both the criminal and the sleuth. The best-selling book is about how they solve the mystery with no one to trust but each other. Take a look at this video link to get more information on the product.

What parents should know:

  • Talks about drugs, alcohol, and gambling
  • Violence involving murder and rape
  • Some crude language used

3. Best Retreat Secrets:We Were Liars By E. Lockhart

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4.4
We Were Liars Image: Image: Ellen Raskin

The Sinclair family is perceived as perfect, close-knit and beautiful. Cadence Sinclair, the protagonist, is the eldest granddaughter of the family. Every year, the Sinclairs enjoy the summers in their private island where Cadence joins her three cousins Cady, Johnny, Miren and an outsider, Gat. They call themselves the “Liars”.

The story revolves around the four characters and how they unearth the ugly secrets of the ever-immaculate Sinclair family. The family begins to break as the aunts vie for the inheritance and the Liars take the matter into their hands. An accident, a hidden truth, lies after lies, true love, and the nasty truth are all masterly combined to build the gilded facade of a family. This review cum book assessment video offers a more detailed explanation of the plot.

What parents should know:

  • Arguments, feuds, and rivalry
  • Drinking, sexual and sensual exploration shown
protip_icon Quick tip
You should start by introducing your teenager to mystery books with fewer pages. Choose books with more pages as their interest in mysteries grows.

4. The Name Of The Star: Shades Of London, Book 1 By Maureen Johnson

Louisiana native Rory Deveaux arrives at a London boarding school to start her senior year. Unfortunately, she is greeted by a spree of horrific killings in the city. Someone is mimicking Jack the Ripper murders of 1888, and her new school falls right in the middle of it. The police have hardly any witnesses or leads. But Rory spots the man. However, she is the only one to see him, and the only one who can see him. Rory is now his next target. She is left with her unknown abilities to tap on and turn the tables.

What parents need to know:

  • This is the first book in the Shades of London series
  • Details of gory crime scenes are given
  • Language and sexual content is light
  • Alcohol abuse depicted
  • Book introduces readers to English history and life at boarding school
Item Weight: 14.1 ounces

5. Best Suspense: One Of Us Is Lying By Karen M. McManus

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4.5
One of Us Is Lying by Karen M. McManus Image: Karen M. Mcmanus
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Why We Think It's Worth Buying

The whopping 26,123 positive reviews on Amazon reflect the superior quality of this product.

One Monday afternoon, five students head to the detention room, while believing that they don’t deserve to be there. The fifth student, Simon, who manages a popular gossip app called ‘About That’, is murdered by a mysterious killer and found dead in the classroom and the four students are the suspects. And all of them have something to hide.

Besides being present at the time of Simon’s death, the four kids also have a secret that they never wanted to be posted in the app. They also know that Simon made many enemies by posting about their secrets. As the story unfolds, they start to unravel secrets and all those hidden truths and everyone becomes suspicious — who is the real killer and whom to trust?

What parents need to know:

  • Sensual exploration
  • Alcohol and drug abuse
  • Rumors, swearing and gossiping
  • Kids being secretive
  • Bullying
Item Weight: 12.7 ounces
protip_icon Quick tip
Choose a book that is part of a series to encourage your child to read books. Each book should be a cliffhanger to encourage your child to read the next book and find out what happens next.

6. Best Unflinchingly: Pretty Girl 13 By Liz Coley

Pretty Girl 13 is a psychological thriller about a girl who must piece together herself from the mystery of lost memory and time. At the age of 13, Angie leaves for a Girl Scout camping trip with her friends. She gets home, only to find that she is 16 – or so she is told by everyone. But she has no memories. What happened in these three years? Why doesn’t she remember and how did she forget? She embarks on a journey to discover her past and eventually learns a terrifying secret. Now she must decide what to do with something she knows but wishes she could forget?

What parents need to know:

  • Topics such as abduction and physical abuse are described
Item Weight: 8.8 ounces

7. Best Imaginative: I Am Princess X By Cherie Priest

This cozy mystery story is about two fifth graders, May and Libby, who are best friends and are obsessed with writing and illustrating the story of a princess they create – Princess X. Libby sketches the pictures while May writes the tales. But Libby and her mother died in a car accident, and all the work done on princess X is thrown out by Libby’s father.

Years later, May is 16 and walks down the streets of Seattle, when she suddenly sees a poster slapped in a window. She looks around and sees them everywhere- Princess X is now a web comic at amPrincessX.com. As May explores the web comic, she discovers unbelievable similarities between Libby’s story and hers. Who could have started it other than Libby? Is she alive?

What parents need to know:

  • This has comic book illustrations
  • Mild fantasy violence
  • No strong language
Item Weight: 14.4 ounces

8. Best Antagonist: Pretty Little Liars By Kate Pavao

The best-selling book revolves around former friends, each dealing with their own set of issues. What they share now is a mystery from their past, one that brought them closer. Three years ago, Alison disappeared after a slumber party, never to return. Her friends at Pennsylvania school mourned her, but at the same time, some breathed sighs of relief in secret. Panic sets in when each of them receives anonymous texts and emails from someone named “A”, who knows their darkest secrets. Who is blackmailing them? Is Alison back as ‘A’?

What parents need to know:

  • Contains controversial teen behavior
  • Alcohol and drug abuse
  • Harsh language
  • Violence and consumerism
Item Weight: 8 ounces

9.Best Paranormal Book:The Raven Boys, Book 1 By Maggie Stiefvater

Maggie Stiefvater’s The Raven Boys follows the life of 16-year-old Blue Sargeant, who’s the daughter and niece of clairvoyants. She is not clairvoyant herself, but helps develop the powers of those around her. All her life, Blue has been told that her kiss will cause her true love to die. As the ghosts of the soon-to-be-dead walk past her mother, she sees one, the ghost of Gansey, for the first time. A non-seer can only see a ghost if she’s his true love, or if she has killed him.

Gansey is a rich guy with devoted friends and studies in the Aglionby Academy. Boys from this school are called the Raven Boys and usually mean only trouble. Blue is attracted to him in a way she cannot deny. Having stayed away from boys always, she gets drawn into his mysterious life even more. Gansey has three best friends: Noah, Ronan and Adam. Blue and the Raven Boys help Gansey with his obsession with finding the final resting place of a medieval Welsh King, and their quest leads the five of them to make life-changing discoveries about the world of the paranormal.

What parents need to know:

  • There is a fair amount of violence and harsh language
  • Paranormal elements from the story’s myth explained at length

10. Best Adventures:The Diviners, Book 1 By Libba Bray

The year is 1926. Evie O’Neill has been exiled from her hometown and sent to New York, as “punishment” for making trouble back home. She is now living with her uncle Will and his unhealthy obsession with the occult. Evie has a supernatural power that she does not want Will to know of. She is a diviner, one who has supernatural powers and practices divination.

A girl is mysteriously murdered and branded with a cryptic symbol, and Will is called to the crime scene. Now, Evie realizes that her gift can help with the murder investigation. However, she’s not the only young diviner in the City. Will all the diviners come together to combat the dark evil forces? Well, you’ll know when you read the book.

What parents need to know:

  • Description of the ritualistic killings can be disturbing
  • Occasional use of strong language
  • Portrayal of Prohibition era in New York City – racism, anti-immigrant, speakeasies
  • Book is packed with historical references to literature, entertainment, politics and the Roaring Twenties.
Item Weight: 2.46 pounds

11. Best Investigations: Jackaby By William Ritter

In this murder mystery, Abigail Rook sails to New England in search of a new adventure in 1892. With no luck finding a job, she responds to an ad for an investigative assistant, where she meets Mr. Jackaby, a private investigator with a keen eye for the extraordinary and supernatural. Abigail is adept in noticing ordinary but important details, a skill that gets her the job of Jackaby’s assistant.

On her first day, she finds herself in the midst of a murder scene. A serial killer is on the loose and the police believe it to be an ordinary villain, whereas Jackaby is certain that it’s a nonhuman creature. The only thing certain is that there are vicious and powerful creatures at work and Jackaby and Abigail have to stop them.

What parents need to know:

  • Light horror
  • A little bit of violence with gunshots, blows and blood
Item Weight: 9.2 ounces

12. Best Exploration:Turtles All The Way Down By John Green

In this book, John Green, an acclaimed author known for his literary expertise, tells the story of a 16-year-old girl called Aza Holmes living in Indianapolis. Aza is battling with obsessive-compulsive disorder, intrusive and disturbing thoughts and acute anxiety. Her alarming thoughts make her feel disconnected from herself and the present. Amidst all this, a local billionaire from Indianapolis goes missing and the police offer a reward of $100,000 for any information on his whereabouts.

This missing person is the father of Davis, her elementary school friend. Aza’s father and Davis’ mother die when they were little, which initiates their friendship as they bond over the shared grief of losing a parent. Daisy, Aza’s best friend comes from a low income family and she cajoles her to play the detective, find the billionaire and get back in touch with Davis. When she meets Davis again, they revive a bond that thrills and terrifies Aza and she’s constantly torn between her perspective and others’.

What parents need to know:

  • Addresses the issue of teen cancer and mental illness
  • There is strong language
  • The sexual content is brief but strong

13. Best Time Traveling: Virals, Book 1 By Kathy Reichs

Tony Brennan is a teenager who moves to Morris Island, a secluded island off the coast of South Carolina. She has three best friends who are as nerdy as her and together, they call themselves “sci-phies”. It is an unforgettable story of their friendship and their mutual interest in science and the woods. As you go deeper into the book, you’ll find several plot twists. For instance, one day, the group discovers the skeleton of a girl who went missing in 1969.

They then rescue a dog caged for medical testing at the Loggerhead Island Research Institute and get exposed to an experimental strain of canine parvovirus. It alters their DNA and makes them hypersensitive and gives them superhuman power. This mystery-solving plot discloses how the teens who were once leading ordinary lives now figure out how to use their powers to save their lives.

What parents need to know:

  • Realistic description and forensic terminology
  • Light violence and consumerism
  • Scenes of bullying
Item Weight: 12 ounces

14.Best Violence Book:Shelter By Harlan Coben

Mickey Bolitar witnesses a car crash that kills his father and puts his mother in rehab. He’s forced to live with his uncle Myron and go to a new high school. The school gives Mickey a great new girlfriend, Ashley. For a while, it seems his life is finally changing for the better, until Ashley vanishes without any trace.

Mickey vows to unveil the truth and in his quest he witnesses a seedy world where truth seems to be far from what he knows; where Ashley isn’t who she claimed to be and neither was his father. He learns about a conspiracy that leaves him questioning everything about the life he thought he knew.

What parents need to know:

  • Violence
  • Solution to the central puzzle involves Holocaust and human trafficking

15.Best Victorian Intrigue:The Clockwork Scarab, Book 1 By Colleen Gleason

The story of bravery is set in a steampunk 1880s London where Alvermina Holmes, Sherlock’s niece and Evaline Stoker, sister of Bram, receive a summons. The belles of London society are getting killed at an alarming rate and the Crown Princess wants these two girls to investigate. They are left with just one clue: a clockwork scarab found near the dead bodies. The stakes are high. If Mina and Evaline cannot unravel the mystery behind the deaths, they’ll become the next target.

What parents need to know:

  • It is a vampire fiction
  • Includes recurring scenes of a vampire attacking his prey
  • Many girls of the society meet a violent end
  • A scene of opium party
Item Weight: 1 pounds

16.Best Clue-Chasing Tale:Paper Towns By John Green

In this best-selling book, the author, John Green, narrates the tale of Quentin Jacobsen, who lives next door to Margo, a girl full of life and adventure, an enigma, and the teen goddess of the town. Jacobsen has been in love with her since elementary school. And in high school, she mostly ignores him. A few weeks before graduation, she enters his life through his window and leads him to an all-nighter playing pranks. The next day he’s back to school only to find that Margo is missing. But there are clues meant for him, which he pursues to find her.

What parents need to know:

  • Teen language and sexual references
  • The main characters sneak out at night to play pranks, including vandalism without any repercussions
Item Weight: 12 ounces

17.Best Island Of Friendship:The Edge of Nowhere, Book 1 By Elizabeth George

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4.5
The Naturals by Jennifer Lynn Barnes Image: Jennifer Lynn Barnes
*The prices provided in this article are based on the latest available information. However, they may vary due to changes in pricing by the seller and/or promotional offers.

Becca can hear “whispers”- thoughts of other people. She eventually discovers the crimes committed by her stepfather and is now on the run. Her mother sends her off on a boat to Whidbey Island in Seattle, to find a better home. She’s cut off from her mother and all support, and ends up alone and stranded. Soon she’s befriended by a Ugandan named Derric and Seth, a kind-hearted musician.

But because of her abilities, she soon discovers herself snared in a mystery that is straining and constricting her new friendships and puts her in danger.

What parents need to know:

  • No violence
  • Becca’s mother pesters her about her weight – importance given to weight watching
  • By the end of the book, she has a beautiful figure due to regular bike rides and circumstances where getting food is difficult. This may not be a nice message for teens concerned with body image.
Item Weight: 14.1 ounces

Why Trust MomJunction?

Wedetso Chirhah writes about children’s products, books, automobiles, electronics, and household appliances. He has done extensive research to recommend these mystery books that will hold your children’s attention. He has also included a brief description of each book to help you choose the right book that can intrigue your child.

The Bottom Line

The best mystery books for teens can help them develop the habit of reading by tapping into their curiosity. Our list of mystery novels showcases the literary expertise of various talented and bestselling authors and covers different themes to engage teenagers’ imaginations and keep them at the edge of their seats. Some of our best picks are The Naturals by Jennifer Lynn Barnes, which incorporates otherworldly powers, and A Study In Charlotte by Brittany Cavallaro, which presents Holmes and Watson in a contemporary setting—a boarding school. You can also consider E. Lockhart’s We Were Liars, with intriguing family dynamics and dark secrets on a private island.  However, before buying, we recommend understanding the plot to check if it is age-appropriate and does not contain any obscene content but continues to keep the readers entertained and intrigued by stimulating their interests.

Infographics: How To Choose The Right Mystery Book?

Picking the right mystery book may be confusing when you have several options available. Fret not! The infographics below will take you through different factors to help you make the right decision. Keep reading!

Things To Consider Before Buying A Mystery Book For Teens (infographic)

Illustration: Momjunction Design Team


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Elisabeth Daly is a state-certified high school English teacher. Over her two decade career, she has taught students in grades 9-12 at both public and private high schools, and worked as an adjunct professor at her local community college.

Read full bio of Elisabeth Daly