Portrait of the Detective as a Young Sleuth
Perhaps realizing how popular mysteries are with young readers, a few P.I. writers have jumped on the bandwagon with stories aimed at the children’s and YA markets, sometimes writing of their grown-up detectives making their way through the world as children and young adults or, in Harlan Coben’s case, saddling his series detective with a precocious high school age wannabe sleuth.
Not sure yet if it’s a trend, but it’s worth keeping an eye on…
- Chasing the Bear (2009) | Buy this book | Kindle it!
Written by Robert B. Parker
Ages 12 and up
Parker, who’d already written a few YA novels by this point, dished up this one about a youngSpenser, who as an adult spills the beans about his childhood to Susan. Not everyone was in love with the framing sequence, but the meat of the book is an engaging riff on high school honour, autonomy, friendship and doing the right thing. “If it’s not worth fighting about, then it’s not worth a lot of mouth.”
- Shelter (2011) | Buy this book | Kindle it!
Seconds Away (2012) | Buy this book | Kindle it!
Found (2015) | Buy this book | Kindle it!
Featuring Mickey Bolitar and Myron Bolitar
Written by Harlan Coben
Ages 12 and up
Not quite Myron as a kid, this series focusses instead on his high school-age nephew and would-be amateur sleuth Mickey, first introduced in the Myron novel Live Wire (2011). In Shelter, the first book in the series, Mickey goes to live with his uncle after his father’s death, and must contend with his mother’s drug problems, a new high school,a new living arrangement, and a missing girlfriend.
- The Great Cake Mystery (2012) | Buy this book | Kindle it!
Featuring Precious Ramotswe
Written by Alexander McCall Smith and illustrated by Iian McIntosh
Billed as “Precious Ramotswe’s Very First Case” and sub-titled “A Number 1 Ladies’ Detective Agency Book for Young Readers,” this beautifully illustrated book seems to be the first in a new series. In it, Precious must crack the case of who stole the yummies from her classroom.
- Fins (2020) | Buy this book | Buy the audio | Kindle it!
Featuring Doc Ford
Written by Randy Wayne White
In 2020, perhaps inspired by Carl Hiaasen, White released his first ever YA novel, focusing on the dwindling shark population crisis, a particular concern of his. According to the publisher,it’s “an environmental call-to-action wrapped up in an adventure novel, with tons of factual information about sharks… spreading awareness to kids in an accessible and action-packed way.”
OTHER P.I. WRITERS WHO HAVE WRITTEN CHILDREN’S & YA NOVELS & MYSTERIES
- Kiddie Pulp
Get ’em While They’re Young