The Game Is Afoot:
15 Masterful Teen Mysteries
by Devon A. Corneal
A well-written mystery is a thing of beauty, filled with intriguing characters, impenetrable puzzles, secrets, lies, red herrings, confusion, misdirection, cliffhangers, clever detectives, wily villains, and shocking surprise endings. Younger readers have long had the Encyclopedia Brown, Nancy Drew, and Hardy Boys series. Adults have escaped with Agatha Christie’s Miss Marple and Hercule Poirot stories, Sherlock Holmes, and anything by James Patterson. But teens? We did a little digging and found some fantastic mysteries, both old and new, written specifically for teens that fill the whodunit gap for young adult readers in unexpected and novel ways.
Head to summer camp with this bestselling book from popular YA thriller author Jessica Goodman. Goldie and her friends are spending the summer as counselors at a local summer camp for rich kids. But when someone gets murdered, Goldie suspects one of her friends knows more than she’s saying.
We Were Liars
We Were Liars is 240 pages of unanswered questions and suspense. Summer friendships forged on a private island erode when secrets fill the days of a group of young, beautiful, and prominent teenagers. Unraveling the mystery of their shared history will keep readers engaged until the very last page.
You won’t be able to set down this New York Times bestselling novel from the authors of Girl in Pieces and The Lucky Ones. Friendship, heartbreak, disappearances, Agatha Christie novels, and murder combine into a masterful teen mystery that will keep you reading well past bedtime.
A Good Girl’s Guide to Murder
Find out why everyone obsesses over this New York Times bestselling YA mystery series. High school senior Pip tackles cold cases, digs up small-town dirt, solves mysteries, and catches killers — all while growing her viral true-crime podcast. The best part? The series is complete, so you can binge-read all three books at once!
I Must Betray You
Take a step back in time to 1989 during Romania’s revolution. When the secret police blackmail Cristian Florescu into becoming an informer, he risks everything to dig up dirt on the communist government and expose their corruption. This breathtaking historical mystery is a must-read!
One of Us Is Lying
If you remember Claire and Bender and their famous Saturday detention, you’re in for a treat with One of Us Is Lying. The jock, the beauty, the criminal, the nerd, and the freak are back, but this time one of them doesn’t make it out of detention alive. This is “The Breakfast Club” with a murderous twist.
Mystery and magic meld perfectly in this glittering YA fantasy novel that takes place in a moving hotel. Each day, the hotel appears in a new location. When Jani and her sister Zosa get the chance to work at the hotel, they don’t hesitate to say yes. But they quickly learn that the hotel is a dangerous puzzle filled with dark secrets. They’ll have to rely on their wits and sleuthing skills if they want to get out alive.
Get ready for a fast-paced mystery novel set at a secluded private school for assassins and spies. When a classmate gets murdered, all fingers point to the new girl, November. Even though she got a late start with her education in espionage, she must rely on her wits, courage, and a few friends to hunt down the killer and clear her name. But in a school filled with trained assassins, it won’t be easy.
What was supposed to be an epic weekend for Claire and her besties turns into a terrifying mystery when she wakes up alone and covered in blood in the woods, with no memory of what happened. Her friends are missing, and now the police are asking questions she can’t answer. This teen mystery from the author of The Cheerleaders will keep you glued to the page!
The Corpse Queen
Read this creepy historical mystery with the lights on! Recently orphaned, Molly goes to live with her estranged Aunt Ava and discovers a lucrative underground world filled with corpses, serial killers, and mesmerizing doctors. As Molly gets pulled deeper into the business of grave-robbing, she finds herself at the mercy of a murderer’s whims.
A Lesson in Vengeance
If you love boarding school stories, you need to add this book to your reading stack. It takes place in a prestigious boarding school in the Catskill Mountains, where the students practice witchcraft and girls end up dead. This spooky mystery will send shivers down your spine.
Dark and Shallow Lies
Head to the deep south where snakes and psychics abound, girls go missing, and secrets stay hidden. As she looks into her best friend’s disappearance, Grey digs up more questions than answers about her small town. Local folklore, a murky bayou, and mysterious strangers combine into an unforgettable novel that will keep you reading well past your bedtime.
Pretty Dead Queens
From the author of The Ivies comes another masterful teen mystery that will keep you guessing through every twist and turn. When the homecoming queen gets murdered, Cecelia dives headfirst into the investigation. With the killer still on the loose, she races to dig up clues and long-kept secrets in her small coastal town.
Natasha Preston consistently delivers addictive teen thrillers like The Twin and The Fear, and The Lake does not disappoint. Loyal fans and new readers alike will shiver in delight as they devour this mystery novel about two girls with a sinister secret returning to their childhood summer camp.
Never Coming Home
The world of teenage influencers turns deadly when ten teens get invited to the launch party of an exclusive island resort. But their glamorous vacation becomes a nightmare when the influencers start getting murdered and the bodies pile up. Keep a flashlight nearby as you read this one!
Editor’s Note: This article was originally published in 2017 and updated in 2022.