Our Favorite 22+ Books About Sleuthing Skills

Updated Jan. 19, 2019

Well hello, Holmes! You've come to the right place to find a new case--we've rounded up our favorite books about sleuthing to help you hone your detective skills and figure out the many mysteries that lie ahead! Whether it's who, how, what, or why, we have confidence that with your investigative skills, you can come to the correct conclusion before it's too late!

Hardy Boys 1: The Tower Treasure book
#1
Hardy Boys 1: The Tower Treasure
chapter book
Recommend Ages: 8-12
Thoughts from Lemony Snickers

The Hardy Boys novels were a staple of my early reading, and I'll love them forever. Many people were more familiar with the Nancy Drew series, but the Hardy Boys books are equally exciting and enjoyable detective books. Because the books are older, readers may encounter some unfamiliar words, like the yellow "jalopy" stolen by the same man who attempts to rob a ferry boat ticket office. Readers will enjoy the step-by-step problem-solving. The Hardy Boys novels are especially great for introducing young readers to the practice of deductive reasoning--the process of elimination widely popularized by Sherlock Holmes. The books are written by several different authors writing under a shared pen name, and some are certainly better than others. The Tower Treasure is one of the best.

The Hardy Boys series, first published in 1927, has sold more than 70 million copies! Now with a brand-new look, this is an edition that collectors won't want to miss! In The Tower Treasure, the first book in the incredibly popular, long-running series, Frank and Joe Hardy work together to solve a high-stakes jewel heist. A special treat for Hardy Boys fans and any reader who's new to the series!

Catch That Cookie! book
#2
Catch That Cookie!
picture book
Recommend Ages: 3-5
Thoughts from Mom of Boys

This is one of my boys all time favorite books! They love love love the adventure of the runaway gingerbread men cookies. This always brings an element of fun to our holiday season. We read it and make our own cookies that always seem to run away. Just like Marshall, my boys get to be detectives and try out their sleuthing for those cookies!

Solve the riddles to find the runaway gingerbread men in this funny and magical cookie hunt! Marshall knows one thing for sure, despite what all the stories say: Gingerbread men cannot run. Cookies are for eating, and he can't wait to eat his after spending all morning baking them with his class. But when it's time to take the gingerbread men out of the oven . . . they're gone! Now, to find those rogue cookies, Marshall and his class have to solve a series of rhyming clues. And Marshall just might have to rethink his stance on magic. Catch That Cookie! is an imaginative mystery, deliciously illustrated by Caldecott Medal winner David Small. It's sure to inspire a new classroom tradition . . . and maybe even a few new believers!

The Thief Lord book
#3
The Thief Lord
Written by Cornelia Funke and illustrated by Christian Birmingham
chapter book
Recommend Ages: 8-12
Thoughts from The Book Snob Mom

I've loved everything I've read of Cornelia Funke's and this book was no exception. The multiple and ever-unfolding layers of reality and truth combine with the magic of Funke's storytelling (and the magic of the carousel) to create a compelling story full of adventure, intrigue (with lots of sleuthing and sneaking!) and the most important discovery of what family really means and who family really is.

The enchanting international bestseller with bonus back matter and a beautiful new cover! Two orphaned brothers, Prosper and Bo, have run away to Venice, where crumbling canals and misty alleyways shelter a secret community of street urchins. Leader of this motley crew of lost children is a clever, charming boy with a dark history of his own: He calls himself the Thief Lord. Propser and Bo relish their new "family" and life of petty crime. But their cruel aunt and a bumbling detective are on their trail. And posing an even greater threat to the boys' freedom is something from a forgotten past: a beautiful magical treasure with the power to spin time itself.

Sloth Slept on book
#4
Sloth Slept on
Written and illustrated by Frann Preston-Gannon
board book
Recommend Ages: 3-5
Thoughts from Mom of Boys

This book is so clever. Such a fun story. The kids are so set to figure out what this animal is and where it came from and where it should go and they do lots of research. I love seeing the curiosity in children and their desire to find answers!

Who's that sleeping in our tree? When a group of kids finds an animal happily napping in their backyard, they set out to discover what it is and where it belongs. As they search and search--never noticing the posters and articles about a sloth that's fled the zoo--they finally discover the identity of the snoozing creature. When sloth wakes up, it's in for a BIG surprise!

The Doll People book
#5
The Doll People
Written by Laura Godwin, Ann M. Martin and illustrated by Brian Selznick
chapter book
Recommend Ages: 9-12
Thoughts from B is for Bookworm

This adventurous story is full of facing fears, some sleuthing, and problem solving. Even though the cover may cause some boys to think it's a "girl book," I think this book is such a fun gender neutral book! When Annabelle Doll finds out she might have a missing Aunt Doll somewhere in the house, she decides to face everyone's biggest fear: leaving the dollhouse to figure out what happened to her Aunt.

Annabelle Doll is eight years old-she has been for more than a hundred years. Not a lot has happened to her, cooped up in the dollhouse, with the same doll family, day after day, year after year. . . until one day the Funcrafts move in.

Russell and the Lost Treasure book
#6
Russell and the Lost Treasure
Written and illustrated by Rob Scotton
picture book
Recommend Ages: 4-8

Russell the sheep is determined to find the Lost Treasure of Frogsbottom. Equipped with his Super-Duper Treasure Seeker, Russell searches high and low, up and down, and in and out. Nothing! Finally, Russell finds an old chest! Could it be? Discover how Russell finds the most valuable treasure of all.

Andi Unexpected book
#7
Andi Unexpected
Written by Amanda Flower
chapter book
Recommend Ages: 8-12
Thoughts from B is for Bookworm

This story shows how grief is manifested in different ways, but how the two sisters and their guardian bonded together and strengthened one another in their difficult times. I also loved that the mystery was about Andi's family history and linked to the great depression, both of which are great topics for readers to learn about. I loved following along in their sleuthing and detective efforts to figure out the answer to their mystery. :)

The first in a new middle-grade mystery series, in Andi Unexpected, twelve-year-old Andi Boggs, discovers evidence of her forgotten namesake, a missing relative, which leads her into a family mystery rooted in the Great Depression.

Basil of Baker Street book
#8
Basil of Baker Street
Written by Eve Titus and illustrated by Paul Galdone
chapter book
Recommend Ages: 6-9
Thoughts from B is for Bookworm

This intermediate read will put your sleuthing and detective skills at work!There are a few illustrations throughout, and it's a fun, quick read. This would be a great read-aloud, too.

Named one of “13 Detective Book Series You Obsessed over as a Kid” by Buzzfeed.com and the inspiration for a hit Disney film, the masterful Great Mouse Detective series is now available to a whole new generation of readers! Basil—the famous sleuth of mousedom—lives in the cellar of Sherlock Holmes’s house. A devoted admirer of the great detective, he has learned his craft by listening at the feet of Holmes himself. But will it be enough to help Basil solve his most baffling mystery yet? The Mystery of the Missing Twins is one of the strangest cases in Basil’s career. With only a few crumbs of clues with which to find answers, how is he ever going to figure out where Angela and Agatha are being kept—and, of course, who mouse-napped them! Will Basil’s mouse sleuthing skills be up to the task of finding the twins before it’s too late?

Who Ate All the Cookie Dough? book
#9
Who Ate All the Cookie Dough?
Written by Karen Beaumont and illustrated by Eugene Yelchin
picture book
Recommend Ages: 2-5
Thoughts from B is for Bookworm

This eeny-meeny-miney-mo story had a fun twist as they were looking for who stole the cookie dough! Though I thought it was a bit repetitive, it was fun to have all of the different animals and I liked the silly monkey. Another fun addition is the lift-the-flap at the end to find the culprit!

Kanga and her friends try to discover who ate all of her cookie dough.

Sherlock Holmes in the Hound of the Baskervilles book
#10
Sherlock Holmes in the Hound of the Baskervilles
Written by Jennifer Adams and illustrated by Alison Oliver
board book
Recommend Ages: 2-4

Delight your little one with the sounds and sights of a mysterious night in Sherlock Holmes in the Hound of Baskervilles: A BabyLit Sounds Primer. Alison Oliver’s bold illustrations correspond with Jennifer Adams’ clever, simple text to create pairings little bibliophiles will love to have read to them, such as “hounds howl,” “gates screech,” and “stairs creak.”

Bizzy Bear: Dinosaur Safari book
#11
Bizzy Bear: Dinosaur Safari
Written by Nosy Crow and illustrated by Benji Davies
board book
Recommend Ages: 0-3

On a visit to the Dinosaur Wildlife Park, Bizzy Bear discovers some interesting footprints. Where do they lead and to which dinosaur do they belong? Another exciting adventure for the world's most intrepid bear!

What Really Happened to Humpty? book
#12
What Really Happened to Humpty?
Written by Jeanie Franz Ransom and illustrated by Stephen Axelsen
picture book
Recommend Ages: 6-9

Detective Joe Dumpty rushes to investigate the mysterious circumstances under which his older brother, Humpty, fell from a wall on his first day as captain of the new Neighborhood Watch program.

Stuart Little 60th Anniversary Edition book
#13
Stuart Little 60th Anniversary Edition
Written and illustrated by E.B. White
chapter book
Recommend Ages: 8-12

A hardcover edition of this treasured story, for which Garth Williams's original black-and-white line drawings for the jacket of Stuart Little have been colorized by the celebrated illustrator Rosemary Wells. Stuart Little is no ordinary mouse. Born to a family of humans, he lives in New York City with his parents, his older brother George, and Snowbell the cat. Though he's shy and thoughtful, he's also a true lover of adventure. Stuart's greatest adventure comes when his best friend, a beautiful little bird named Margalo, disappears from her nest. Determined to track her down, Stuart ventures away from home for the very first time in his life. He finds adventure aplenty. But will he find his friend?

Whobert Whover, Owl Detective book
#14
Whobert Whover, Owl Detective
Written by Jason Gallaher and illustrated by Jess Pauwels
board book
Recommend Ages: 4-6

Help Whobert Whover, Owl Detective, keep his woods safe in this hilarious who-who-dun-it.

Hermelin the Detective Mouse book
#15
Hermelin the Detective Mouse
Written and illustrated by Mini Grey
picture book
Recommend Ages: 5-8

A mouse with typewriting skills secretly helps the people of Offley Street find lost items, and eventually saves the day.

Mission Defrostable book
#16
Mission Defrostable
Written by Josh Funk and illustrated by Brendan Kearney
picture book
Recommend Ages: 5-9

Our favorite breakfast food friends are back and all bready for their next adventure! Can they save the fridge before all the food is iced? It's mission . . . defrostable. "And now with the two of you out of the fold, I've got my revenge and I'm serving it cold!" Brrr! There's a frost in the fridge--and it's hardened Pudding Pond and frozen Yogurt Falls. Agent Asparagus is on the case, and she begs Lady Pancake and Sir French Toast to join her superspy team. But when the enemy snatches Asparagus, Pancake and French Toast have only one dough man to turn to for help: the evil Baron von Waffle! Will he help them save the fridge . . . or are they doomed to become frozen food?

Greenglass House book
#17
Greenglass House
Written by Kate Milford and illustrated by Jaime Zollars
chapter book
Recommend Ages: 10-12

At Greenglass House, a smuggler's inn, 12-year-old Milo, the innkeepers' adopted son, plans to spend his winter holidays relaxing, but soon guests begin arriving with strange stories about the house, sending Milo and Meddy, the cook's daughter, on an adventure. Simultaneous eBook.

Nancy Drew 1: The Secret of the Old Clock book
#18
Nancy Drew 1: The Secret of the Old Clock
Written by Carolyn Keene
chapter book
Recommend Ages: 8-12

A special treat for Nancy Drew fans, and any reader who's new to the series! We're releasing a stunning new edition of an old favorite: The Secret of the Old Clock, the first book in the incredibly popular, long-running series. It's the same exciting mystery that readers have fallen in love with for more than 80 years—Nancy Drew has to help Mr. Crowly's friends find his missing will, before the evil Topham family steals his full inheritance. Now with a brand-new look, this is an edition that collectors won't want to miss!

The Boxcar Children book
#19
The Boxcar Children
chapter book
Recommend Ages: 7-10

The Aldens begin their adventure by making a home in a boxcar. Their goal is to stay together, and in the process they find a grandfather.

Encyclopedia Brown, Boy Detective book
#20
Encyclopedia Brown, Boy Detective
Written by Donald J. Sobol and illustrated by Leonard Shortall
chapter book
Recommend Ages: 8-10

Leroy Brown, aka Encyclopedia Brown, is Idaville neighborhood’s ten-year-old star detective. With an uncanny knack for trivia, he solves mysteries for the neighborhood kids through his own detective agency. But his dad also happens to be the chief of the Idaville police department, and every night around the dinner table, Encyclopedia helps him solve his most baffling crimes. And with ten confounding mysteries in each book, not only does Encyclopedia have a chance to solve them, but the reader is given all the clues as well. Interactive and chock full of interesting bits of information—it’s classic Encyclopedia Brown!

Guess What's Behind the Door? book
#21
Guess What's Behind the Door?
Written and illustrated by Agnese Baruzzi
board book
Recommend Ages: 3-7

What could be behind the door? Oh, no: it looks like a monster's sharp teeth! But guess again. When you peek inside you'll see there's nothing scary at all--just a fancy design painted on a drum. Every page lets kids peer through the keyhole and get a delicious shiver . . . until they discover a happy surprise waiting for them.

A Series of Unfortunate Events #1: The Bad Beginning book
#22
A Series of Unfortunate Events #1: The Bad Beginning
Written by Lemony Snicket and illustrated by Brett Helquist
chapter book
Recommend Ages: 8-12
Thoughts from The Goodfather

As a believer in home libraries, I love reading about the excitement the Baudelaire children feel when they visit the home library of Justice Strauss for the first time. And I especially love when they return to that home library to figure out what terrible scheme Count Olaf might be plotting to get to their family fortune and how they can outwit him at his own game. The terribly unfortunate but resilient Baudelaire orphans combined with the terrifically terrible villainy of Count Olaf make Lemony Snicket's A Series of Unfortunate Events such a memorable puzzler.

NOW A NETFLIX ORIGINAL SERIES Violet, Klaus, and Sunny Baudelaire are intelligent children. They are charming, and resourceful, and have pleasant facial features. Unfortunately, they are exceptionally unlucky. In the first two books alone, the three youngsters encounter a greedy and repulsive villain, itchy clothing, a disastrous fire, a plot to steal their fortune, a lumpy bed, a deadly serpent, a large brass reading lamp, a long knife, and a terrible odor. In the tradition of great storytellers, from Dickens to Dahl, comes an exquisitely dark comedy that is both literary and irreverent, hilarious and deftly crafted. Never before has a tale of three likeable and unfortunate children been quite so enchanting, or quite so uproariously unhappy.

Book Scavenger book
#23
Book Scavenger
chapter book
Recommend Ages: 8-12

Just after twelve-year-old Emily and her family move to San Francisco, she teams up with new friend James to follow clues in an odd book they find, hoping to figure out its secrets before the men who attacked Emily's hero, publisher Garrison Griswold, solve the mystery or come after the friends.

Escape from Mr. Lemoncello's Library book
#24
Escape from Mr. Lemoncello's Library
chapter book
Recommend Ages: 8-12

"Twelve-year-old Kyle gets to stay overnight in the new town library, designed by his hero (the famous gamemaker Luigi Lemoncello), with other students but finds that come morning he must work with friends to solve puzzles in order to escape"--

Have a suggestion for a book to add to this list? Send an email to [email protected]!