A detective stories are actually a subset of the mystery genre.  And readers love the behind the scenes view of the story they get in following a main character who is a detective. This list is my personal Top Ten Detective Stories where one or more characters are actively trying to learn skills to become a detective.


Beginning reader

Nate the Great by Marjorie Weinman Sharmat

“I, Nate the Great” can find no better beginning reader series, especially featuring the watchdog Fang. Series began in 70’s, over 20 books.

Jack Russell, Dog Detective by Darrel and Sally Odgers

In the first volume, Dog Den Mystery, Jack solves the problem of his missing squeaker bone and blanket.  Cute and funny.  Series has about 10 books.

The Great Cake Mystery: Precious Ramotswe’s Very First Case by Alexander McCall-Smith.  Sequel coming in Oct ’13: Mystery of Meerkat Hill.

A picture book story that introduces Precious and how she decided to become a detective.  The audio is narrated by Adjoa Andoh – wonderful!


Elementary readers

Encyclopedia Brown, Boy Detective by Donald J. Sobol

Recently reprinted by Puffin, this classic series of a boy helping solve crimes for his police chief father still has the ability to rivet readers.

Judy Moody, Girl Detective (#9) by Megan McDonald

Judy is in a sleuthing mood and snoops until she finds a mystery to solve. References lots of Nancy Drew mystery titles.  Fun and typical Judy.

Gilda Joyce, Psychic Investigator by Jennifer Allison

OK, Gilda wants to use her psychic powers to detect but this is quite a frightening and funny first case.  Series has over half a dozen titles.

100-year-old Secret  (Sherlock Files) by Tracy Barrett

Xena and Xander Holmes, Sherlock’s great-great-great grandchildren arrive in London and are scarcely settled into school when they receive a note to go to the Dancing Men Pub and the adventures begin. Four books in series so far.


Middle School Titles

Enola Homes Mysteries by Nancy Springer

In the first installment of this series, The Case of the Missing Marquess, we meet Enola, younger sister of Sherlock and Mycroft Holmes.  Her mother is missing and she is trying to apply what she knows of detecting methods to find her. Enola squirms her way around many issues facing women in the 1880s and we learn interesting details about her older brothers.  Half a dozen books in the series.

Sisters Grimm: The Fairy Tale Detectives by Michael Buckley and Peter Ferguson

Set in a world where fairy tales are fact, the two Grimm sisters are sent to live with their grandmother Relda Grimm and find that the famous fairy tales written by their ancestor are really case files.  Book 9: The Council of Mirrors was just published.

Death Cloud (Sherlock Holmes, the Legend Begins) by Andrew Lane

Tutored by American Amyus Crowe, fourteen-year-old Sherlock has been placed for school break with his strange aunt and uncle in the Hampshire countryside when two unexplained deaths occur. Crowe helps Sherlock develop his powers of observation and detection.  Following are Rebel Fire, Black Ice and, due out in Oct 2013,  Fire Storm.


Karen Perry is a retired school librarian who now has the title of Reviewer, Books for Youth at Greensboro News and Record in Greensboro, NC.