Kiddie Pulp, Part II

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!
    Featuring Spenser
    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
    Ages 7-10
    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.”



Respectfully compiled by Kevin Burton Smith.

2 thoughts on “Kiddie Pulp, Part II

  1. Dear Kevin,
    I would like recall that, in 1954, Len Zinberg/Ed Lacy, wrote, under Steve April alias, a splendid novel, Route 13, about a young boy who becomes postman to discover who has killed his adoptive father, a carrier himself. This book is unfoundable (but I have it!, so as Bill Pronzini).


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