12 YA Murder Mystery Novels You Need to Read

Reading is one of my favorite things to do, but I especially love to read mystery novels. These are my top 12 favorite murder mysteries that I recommend to you! I have read all of these books, some of them more than once, so hopefully, you will take this list more to heart. One of the hardest challenges I have when it comes to reading is not judging a book by its cover. It’s hard not to! But I encourage you to try all these books!

#1 – A Good Girls Guide To Murder

I decided to make this novel the first on the list because it is probably the most page-turning mystery on this list. And don’t get me wrong, ALL of these books are phenomenal and amazing but the way that Holly Jackson writes is so suspenseful and engaging. This mystery is about a murder that happened five years ago and the detective, Pip, intends to find out what happened for a college capstone project.
Author: Holly Jackson
Pages: 400
Barnes & Nobles Rating: 4.8/5
Series: Yes. 1 of 3 books.

#2 – One Of Us Is Lying

The reason that I selected this book to read was solely because in just one week, I saw 5 different kids engrossed in it. Just from reading the first paragraph, I could tell this was going to keep me up!
Here is an excerpt from the book. You should also note this has been made into a show that you can stream on Peacock.
Author: Karen M. MacMagnus
Pages: 368
Barnes & Nobles Rating: 4.6/5
Series: Yes. Follow up Novel (futuristic)

#3 – 14 Ways To Die

14 Ways To Die is an amazing book with a twist of tech. Basically, this girl’s mom was murdered and she wants to figure out who did it, as any sane person would want. She decides to get the killer’s attention by becoming a reality star, showing her everyday life. As the story goes on the clues clash and it gets more and more complex until there is a point where the killer makes contact. The reason that I like this novel so much is that I can connect with the main character, not because her mom died, but because she is so understandable. It was a really smooth and fun read, and I encourage you to go along for the ride!
Author: Vinect Ralph
Pages: 400
Barnes & Nobles Rating: 4.2/ 5
Series: No

#4 – The Cheerleaders

The story was engrossing and thrilling and it had me hooked from the very beginning. It has a lot of volume and complexity, and all of the characters’ personalities were relatable. “In the small town of Sunnybrook, there are no more cheerleaders. First, there was the car accident–two girls dead after hitting a tree on a rainy night. Not long after, the murders happened. Those two girls were killed by the man next door. The police shot him, so no one will ever know his reasons. Monica’s sister was the last cheerleader to die. After her suicide, Sunnybrook High disbanded the cheer squad. No one wanted to be reminded of the girls they’d lost.”
Author: Kaza Thomas
Pages: 400
Barnes & Nobles Rating: 4.1/ 5
Series: No

#5 – People Like Us

People Like Us is such an astonishing, extravagant, dramatic, action-packed book. The main character, Kay, who is bisexual, is facing a hard time as she is trying to lead a soccer team to states and get scouted, now she has to complete a list of gruel tasks given to her from a “revenge website.” As she starts to complete the tasks she has anger from people coming at all corners. She has no idea who is threatening her into doing this stuff but she intends to find out. She also intends to find out who killed Jessica Lane.
Author : Dana Mele
Pages: 384
Barnes & Nobles Rating: 4.5/ 5
Series: No

#6 – The Inheritance Games

I can’t stress this enough, this is one of the best books I have read this past year. Jennifer Lynn Barnes is an amazing writer, as she had me latching on to every sentence for some kind of clue of hidden meaning. All of the riddles in this book rhyme with persication. Some of the moments are so hilarious and lovable. Basic run down; Avery Grambs inherited billions of dollars from notorious billionaire Tobias Hawthrone. His house, his cars, his private jets, everything. The problem is, Avery has never met Tobias Hawthrone and she has no idea why he left her all this money…(This is my favorite murder mystery on the list!)
Note: 3/3 book in series coming out August 30, 2022
Author: Jennifer Lynn Barnes
Pages: 400
Barnes & Nobles Rating: 4.7 / 5
Series: Yes. 1 of 3 books.

#7 – The Naturals

The Naturals, written by the same author of The Inheritance Games, follows a girl named Cassie through many mysteries over the years. Cassie has the special ability to know everything about somebody and what they would do just by looking at them. She is officially hired by the FBI to profile serial killers to solve mysteries. I love the mix of mystery, drama, and suspense put into the pages and I highly recommend this book to you!
Author: Jennifer Lynn Barnes
Pages: 336
Barnes & Nobles Rating: 4.5/ 5
Series: Yes. 1 of 4. Plus follow up book (futuristic)

#8 – Space Case

Stuart Gibbs is one of my favorite mystery writers in general because he doesn’t do the things that almost all mystery authors do. Other authors make the killer’s identity unknown until around 75% percent of the way through the book, so that when you are 84% of the way through the book and the detective figures out who it is you’re sitting there like, WELL?!?!? Who is it ?? Oh…it’s some random dude that I didn’t even know the name of until now.” No. Stuart Gibbs does not do that. His mysteries are plotted out from the very beginning, and the way it unravels is so crazy and mysterious that you just keep picking up more and more books. Space Case is the only human murder mystery he has written but The Funjungle books are muder mysteries involving animals. Those are awesome!
Note: This is the only book on this list where the main character is a boy.
This mystery is Sci-Fi which creates a really cool effect when trying to solve the mystery by yourself.
Author: Stuart Gibbs
Pages: 368
Barnes & Nobles Rating: 4.6/ 5
Series: 1 of 3.

#9 – That’s Not What Happened

This book doesn’t quite fit the “murder mystery” genre, but I enjoyed it so much I put it on there anyway. This girl named Leeane, Lee, was part of a mass shooting at her school. Only 6 kids survived and her best friend, Sarah, was shot that day. The story follows the grief of the traumatic event. Lee narrates the book and as the reader, we don’t really know what happened the day of the shooting until the end. So, it is sort of like a mystery to the reader but not to Lee. I thought it was an interesting take on an idea like that.
Author: Kody Keplinger
Barnes & Nobles Rating: 4.2/ 5
Series: No.

#10- Nancy Drew

Nancy Drew. Complete classic first of all. Caroline Keene is a very talented writer. The only thing I would say about Nancy Drew, more like a piece of advice, make sure you read the originals! There is a version of Nancy Drew called “Nancy Drew Clue Crew” that is written by Caroline Keene for younger readers. More people read the “clue crew” versions, so the OG ones stopped becoming as popular. Nevertheless, I recommend the OG ones all the way. Something to note is that these books show character development over the course of the series. Nancy never gets older and whatnot.
Author: Caroline Keene
Pages: 180 (average)
Barnes & Nobles Rating: 4.3 / 5

#11 – Truly Devious: Maureen Johnson

This book is a masterpiece. It has the modern hint of solving a mystery that happened in 1936. The detective, Stevie Bell, studies criminology, so unlike all the other detectives on this list she has experience. The mystery she tries to solve, the Ellingham Case, takes her 3 books to solve. The structure of this book is so unique and the way Stevie solves it is so different from other books, but so perfect. Definitely put this on your bookshelf.
Author: Maureen Johnson
Pages: 448
Barnes & Nobles Rating: 4.3 / 5
Series: Yes. 1 of 3. Plus a follow-up book (futuristic)

#12-Turtles All The Way Down

And last but not least: Turtles all the Way Down. John Green is an engaging writer in general. The concept of this book is so interesting, novel and different. In terms of the summary; “The story centers on 16-year-old Aza Holmes, an American high school student with OCD and anxiety, and her search for a fugitive billionaire who happens to be a neighbor’s father. She is grieving the loss of her own father while a budding relationship grows between her and the billionaire’s son.”

Congratulations, you have finished the list! Again, I would highly recommend you pick one of these books up and give them a try. Write in the comments which books you have read or which ones you want to read! Here is an amazing reading list with some books that I think you will recognize!