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Find more Top 10 YA Mysteries for Adult Readers
It’s no secret that there are a lot of adults out there buying YA books. And one of the most enticing genres for teens and adults alike? That would be mystery. While adult crime fiction tends to follow certain genre conventions, YA mysteries can, sometimes, be a little more nebulous. Here are ten YA books from the last year or so—some of them follow the rules, some of them don’t, but all are bound to appeal to the YA-hungry adult reader.
A Good Girl’s Guide to Murder. By Holly Jackson. 2020. Delacorte, $17.99 (9781984896360).
Five years after the disappearance of popular girl Andie Bell and the unexpected suicide of Sal Singh, her alleged killer, skeptical high school senior Pippa Fitz-Amobi decides that proving Sal’s innocence will be her capstone project. Jackson transforms what could be a routine murder mystery into a critical examination of xenophobia, unfounded bias, and personal responsibility.
The Hand on the Wall. By Maureen Johnson. 2020. HarperCollins/Katherine Tegen, $18.99 (9780062338112).
Stevie Bell has solved the infamous, impossible mystery of the Ellingham disappearances, but as people continue to die in strange accidents around Ellingham Academy, she’s focused on the mysteries of the present. Fans of Knives Out will embrace this trilogy ender, though they’ll want to start with the first two books, Truly Devious (2018) and The Vanishing Stair (2019).
Let Me Hear a Rhyme. By Tiffany D. Jackson. 2019. HarperCollins/Katherine Tegen, $17.99 (9780062840325).
In 1990s Brooklyn, Stephon is murdered; as his sister Jasmine searches for his killer, his friends Quadir and Jarrell try to make him famous for his music. Hip-hop fans and readers who were teens in the 90s will be especially drawn to this novel, but its suspense and style will attract all readers.
The Lovely and the Lost. By Jennifer Lynn Barnes. 2019. Little, Brown, $17.99 (9781484776209).
Kira, found in the woods as a child by a search-and-rescue dog, now trains dogs of her own. When a girl goes missing, Kira has to control memories of her past if she’s going to help. Barnes smartly maps the psychological landscape of a girl working through her early-life trauma, making this mystery layered and compelling.
The Missing Season. By Gillian French. 2019. HarperTeen, $17.99 (9780062803337).
New-kid Clara disdains a local legend about a monster called the Mumbler, who, every October, steals away a kid. But kids do go missing in October. And Clara’s starting to feel like someone is watching her. Edgar-finalist French elevates this mystery beyond genre conventions with depth of characterization and an unyielding sense of anxiety.
Patron Saints of Nothing. By Randy Ribay. 2019. Penguin/Kokila, $17.99 (9780525554912).
After finding out about his cousin Jun’s violent death, Jay Reguero travels from America to the Philippines only to find that his birthplace has changed in the face of a sweeping drug war. Jay’s investigations are an intriguing setup for a deeply nuanced family drama; Jay himself is a relatable character for biracial readers straddling two different cultures.
Spin. By Lamar Giles.2019. Scholastic, $17.99 (9781338219210).
When up-and-coming DJ Paris Secord, aka DJ ParSec, is murdered, both her best friend, Kya, and her biggest fan, Fuse, are shaken—and each suspicious that the other is the killer. Giles blends a clear love of hip-hop with the juiciness of fandoms and the gripping, heart-stopping thrill of a good murder mystery.
Swipe Right for Murder. By Derek Milman. 2019. Little, Brown/JIMMY Patterson, $17.99 (9780316451062).
After he picks the wrong guy to hook up with on a sex-on-demand app, Aidan finds himself entangled with a terrorist organization targeting those who threaten gay rights. What could have been just a clever reconstruction of Hitchcockian mystery conventions is elevated by wry humor and genuine emotional intensity.
This Is My America. By Kim Johnson. July 2020. Random, $17.99 (9780593118764).
Though Tracey’s father was convicted and sentenced to death, she has always believed in his innocence. Her advocacy for the wrongfully imprisoned ultimately leads to an investigation that brings her to the attention of a white supremacist organization. Uniting a well-paced mystery with lessons about history and activism, Johnson has penned a tale that manages to teach and thrill.
Wilder Girls. By Rory Power. 2019. Delacorte, $18.99 (9780525645580).
Raxter School for Girls was ravaged by the Tox, a sickness that distorted girls’ bodies in terrible ways. When Hetty’s friend disappears, Hetty breaks quarantine to search for her in the strange world beyond their fence. Evocative and sometimes gruesome, this is an updated Lord of the Flies that haunts.
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