Crime fiction for children

The young crime fiction genre has been given a boost by the Murder Most Unladylike Series by Robin Stevens who has just finished the ninth and final book in the series Death Sets Sail due out in August. Here are some other crime picks for 11-plus readers.

The London Eye by Siobhan Dowd relates how Ted, a boy with Asperger syndrome, and his sister Kat, solve the mystery of their cousin Salim’s disappearance from a pod on the London Eye. Despite a difficult relationship at times, they overcome their differences to follow a trail of clues spanning London in order to find their cousin. Ultimately it comes down to Ted, whose brain works in its own very unique way, to find the key to the mystery.

Murder Most Unladylike author Robin Stevens wrote The Guggenheim Mystery, the sequel to The London Eye following the passing of Dowd in which Ted, Kat and Salim find themselves in New York. Kat’s Aunt Gloria is a curator at the Guggenheim art museum. When a Kandinsky is stolen Gloria is arrested and it’s up to the young detectives to clear her name.

In Emil and the Detectives by Erich Kästner, the young Emil is put on a train to stay with his grandmother when his money goes missing. A gang of boys comes to the rescue and together they’re determined to catch the thief and get the money back. First published in 1928, it has never been out of print.

When Miss Sophie Taylor is hired to work at Sinclair’s department store in London in The Clockwork Sparrow by Katherine Woodfine she thinks her life is going to change for the better. But on the eve of the grand opening an exquisite, jewel-encrusted clockwork sparrow is stolen from the grand exhibition and Sophie is accused of theft. Can Sophie solve the crime and prove her innocence?

Andrew Lane’s Young Sherlock series follows the crime solving of a teenage Sherlock Homes in the 1860s and 1870s. There are eight books in the set which sees the young detective solve crimes in far flung locations ranging from the Suez Canal to China to Russia.  

Some older children might enjoy the actual Sherlock Holmes The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes by Arthur Conan Doyle and Agatha Christie’s Murder on the Orient Express (although there is a fair amount of blood in the latter.)

In Death Sets Sail by Robin Stevens, Hazel Wong and Daisy Wells head to Egypt for a cruise on the Nile with school friend Amina, boy detectives The Junior Pinkertons and Hazel’s father and sisters. Also aboard the SS Hatshepsut is the Breath of Life, a strange cult of genteel English ladies and gentlemen who believe they are the reincarnations of pharaohs. When the cult’s leader is found dead in her cabin, the Detective Society must spring into action in their most perilous adventure to date.

This is the ninth and final book in the series which launched in 2014 has won the Waterstones Children’s Book Prize. It is available in August.

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