Murder is Bad Manners by Robin Stevens
(Also published as Murder Most Unladylike.) This is a great boarding school mystery set in 1930s England. It’s also very much a Sherlock Holmes homage, with Daisy Wells as the aloof Sherlock-figure, and Hazel Wong a slightly insecure Watson. The mystery and character-building are great, and the book keeps up a good pace. It’s a book meant for older children, and maybe young teens.
If You Find This by Matthew Baker
I loved this. Nick is a fantastic and unique narrator, and the supporting cast are wonderfully larger-than-life. If You Find This really captures the spirit of childhood adventure, while also delving into serious subjects like bullying, dementia, and regret, without becoming preachy or overbearing. It’s definitely accessible enough for younger readers, but the story is mature enough for older kids as well.
One Came Home by Amy Timberlake
This was another that impressed me. Georgie, the narrator, has a great voice, and One Came Home is very much her coming-of-age story. When I was a kid, pioneer/Old West-type stories were my absolute 100% favorite genre, and if I had read as a kid I have no doubt it would’ve been one of my favorite books. The mystery here is relatively straightforward and simple, as the focus of the story is on Georgie’s emotional journey. One Came Home is suited more for older kids and young teens.
The Detective’s Assistant by Kate Hannigan
The real-life history behind this is very interesting. The narrator’s aunt, Kate Warne, was the first female Pinkerton detective. The book is somewhat disjointed, moving very quickly through several small mysteries. Nell is an amusing narrator. I didn’t dislike the book, but I found myself skimming more and more towards the end. It’s definitely more suited to younger readers.