No catches, no fine print just unconditional book loving for your children with their favourites saved to their own digital bookshelf.
New members get entered into our monthly draw to win £100 to spend in your local bookshop plus lots lots more...Find out more
Find our latest selection of crime and mystery books, from serious whodunnits to failed comic detectives.
June 2021 Debut of the Month | Inspired by The Secret Garden and the stylistic elegance of the golden age of children’s literature, Ella Risbridger’s The Secret Detectives radiates historic charisma and the allure of engaging self-determining characters. What’s more, it’s a rip-roaring adventure that’s guaranteed to charm the socks off fans of Robin Stevens and Katherine Rundell, while keeping them on the very edge of their seats. In a classic set-up, after finding herself orphaned, eleven-year-old Isobel Petty is plucked from her home outside Calcutta to live in England with a distant uncle. Pondering her future, Isobel declares, “England sounded very cold and unpleasant, and her uncle, worse” - not the best of starts. Life aboard the S.S. Marianna, in the charge of Mrs Colonel Hartington-Davis, is an irritation, not least due to her charge’s exasperating daughter, Letitia. “If you’re not a native and you’re not English, what are you?” she demands of Isobel. Then, while despairing of having to spend three long weeks at sea, Isobel witnesses someone being thrown overboard. When the captain insists no one is missing, Isobel sets about solving a double mystery - the identity of the culprit, and their victim. Isobel’s wit and determination are immensely appealing (as is her straight-thinking, straight-talking aspect), and I especially loved the ebb and flow dynamics between Isobel and her fellow (initially reluctant) co-investigators. In short, this is a perfectly-pitched history mystery, possibly best enjoyed by torchlight with a stack of fortifying ginger biscuits to hand. The LoveReading LitFest invited Ella to the festival to talk about The Secret Detectives. You can view the event by subscribing to the LitFest programme for as little as £6 per month - or you can pay per view. For just £2 you can see Ella in conversation with Paul Blezard, discussing her exciting debut children's book inspired by The Secret Garden. Check out a preview of the event here
Skipton House Community Centre may look ramshackle, but it is soon at the heart of Erin's life - especially the cooking club. When the building is suddenly threatened with closure, Erin and her new friends, Tanya, Frixos, and Sam, form The Cooking Club Detectives. Can they, and their four-legged assistant, Sausage, uncover who the mystery culprit is and save Skipton?
June 2021 Debut of the Month | A gorgeously written supernatural mystery set in Ireland about friendship, love, guilt, responsibility and sacrifice. This is the first in a series focusing on four protagonists – Maeve, Lily, Roe and Fiona – who each learn that they have a supernatural gift.
It's midsummer's day and thirteen-year-old Elle and her Leapling classmates are visiting the Museum of the Past, the Present and the Future. But on the day of the school trip, disaster strikes, and the most unique and valuable piece in the museum, the Infinity-Glass, is stolen! And worse still, Elle's friend and fellow Infinite, MC(2), is arrested for the crime! To prove his innocence Elle must leap back centuries in time, to a London very different from today. Along the way she will meet new friends, face dangers unlike any she has ever known, and face an old enemy who is determined to destroy her. Can Elle find the missing Infinity-Glass and return it to its rightful home before it's too late?
Recommended by Stephen L Holland, Guest Editor, June 2021: Energetic, behavioural comedy in which six school-aged sleuths investigate local mysteries. Their expressions are as priceless as the dialogue: Allison nails the young ones’ pouts and passion (often inversely proportioned to whatever merits it) and the way everything is taken so personally. Whatever your age, you will recognise so much here like the first time you went round for tea at a friend’s, encountering new food and alien customs.
The Branford Boase prizewinning author has produced another winner with his second book. This is the thrilling story of Queenie de la Cruz, an ordinary girl who happens to be a big fan of world’s most popular fizzy drink. When a bottle washes up at her feet on the beach near her run-down house, this is not unusual- the beach is so covered with rubbish she hardly notices it. But this bottle contains the top-secret recipe for her favourite drink. Priceless information that the big corporation wants back at any cost! The way they manipulate the media and instigate a world wide search for Queenie is genuinely scary and thought provoking. While on the run Queenie comes to realise a lot about the world and the threats it faces from big business and consumerism. She also realises the value of friendship, finds her courage to stand up for what is right and that some things are more important than money. The suspense filled plot will keep readers guessing and the powerful underlying environmental message will strike home. A story which, like his debut novel Kick, looks at the darker side of consumerism and big business and its worldwide affects, but this is so successfully wrapped up in a really great story that this will be a really popular read as well as a valuable discussion starter.
Fourteen-year-old Cat is lonely - reeling from the loss of her father, she's disconnected from friends and fighting with her mum. But when a new boy, Tyler, arrives for the summer, Cat finds herself opening up to the handsome stranger. A shocking revelation about her dad turns Cat's world on its head. She and Tyler uncover a series of secrets that take them on a perilous journey. With fresh lies exposed and threats from a dangerous gang revealed, will Cat risk everything to keep herself and her family safe? A teen thriller that will have you looking for answers round every corner.
This is the third book in a fresh and funny new detective series for 7+ readers. Follow Anisha, a STEM-loving, British Indian girl living in Birmingham with her huge, hilarious extended family - an irrepressible new best friend for boys and girls everywhere. Our Kids Reader Review Panel reviewed the second in this series, School's Cancelled - find out what they thought!
Jane Austen Investigates | ‘The life of a clergyman’s daughter in rural Hampshire was disappointingly full of duties, and there were few things for an adventurous girl to do. This was why Jane always considered it fortunate to have been involved in a carriage accident. Without that disaster she would never have met the Abbey ghost.’ An exciting middle-grade historical mystery inspired by Northanger Abbey, Jane Austen's first novel.
Enter a world of wonder with the bestselling new novel from actor, comedian and author, Ben Miller - out in paperback 1st April. Lana loves stories. Especially the ones she and her brother, Harrison, share in their make-believe games. But when Harrison decides he's too grown-up to play with Lana she finds herself feeling lonely. Until something magical happens . . . Hidden in the strange new supermarket in town, Lana discovers a portal to a fairytale world! But these aren't the happy-ever-after fairytales that Lana knows, they are darker and more dangerous, and the characters need Lana's help to defeat an evil witch. But she can't do it alone. Can she convince Harrison to believe in stories again and journey to the world with her . . . before it's too late? Fall into this bestselling classic adventure about the power of stories, with beautiful illustrations throughout from Daniela Jaglenka Terrazzini.
Fleur Hitchcock delivers another scorching crime drama in Waiting for Murder. It’s a baking hot summer and Dan is away from the city and his friends, with his mum on her archaeological dig, where they might just have found the bones of King Harold’s wife, Edith the Fair. But it’s Dan’s discovery of much more recent remains that sparks the adventure, uncovering evidence of treachery and murder and starting a new treasure hunt. The story reaches its climax just as the weather finally breaks, and a torrent of water threatens to sweep everything and everyone away. Full of thrills, twists and surprises, this will keep everyone on the edge of their seats.
April 2021 Book of the Month | Bravo to Jonathan Stroud! With its cast of charismatic characters and extraordinary world-building (think broken Britain with Wild West vibes), The Outlaws Scarlett and Browne is an audacious firecracker. And, in even better news for fans of funny, inventive adventure fiction, this is but the beginning of what’s set to be an extraordinary series. “Britain was a land of ruin…the country was maimed and broken - but full of strange fecundity and strength”. It’s also brimming with the likes of bears, wolves, flesh-eating spear-birds and gruesome cannibal creatures, all of which whip-smart, cuss-uttering Scarlett takes into her swaggering stride. She makes an unforgettable impression from the off: “A slight slim figure in a battered brown coat, weighed down with…all the paraphernalia of a girl who walked the Wilds.” After killing four grown men who’d tried to rob her, Scarlett struts into a bank and proceeds to hold it up (turns out she needs money to repay a debt). On fleeing the scene, Scarlett finds a crashed bus, all its passengers dead but for a lone boy hiding in the toilet. Enter Albert Browne, “awkward, skinny and wide-mouthed, like a frightened skeleton”, and seemingly a piece of powdery chalk to Scarlett’s pungent cheese. Her scathing sarcasm (and Albert’s obliviousness to it) provides many a laugh: “You just holler if I get in your way,” she seethes as he admires a seed pod while she sets about making a fire, cooking a bird and establishing a camp for them, and all while they’re being pursued. But, for all his unworldliness, Albert turns out to have hidden talents. Sensing he might be of use to her after all, Scarlett agrees to help him accomplish his own mission. Albert wants to reach the Free Isles, remnants of London that “don’t have any restrictions on who you are or what you can do. They welcome people who are...different”, unlike the dictatorial High Council of the Faith Houses, which is “desperate to keep the old ways going”, and “on the watch for any kind of deviation.” Trouble is, as their respective pursuers close in, time and space is running out for our unforgettable outlaws. What a story, what characters, and what a wait it will be until the second instalment. I defy any reader not to fall for Scarlett and Albert, and to become gasp-out-loud, laugh-out-loud invested in their quest.
If you missed the first book about Walker, here’s a quick catch up: Walker is dog mad, but can’t have one as Mum is allergic. When he sets up as a dog walker, he realises something amazing: he can talk to dogs and they can talk to him. In this episode he and his growing band of dog best friends find themselves up against a ruthless, if not very bright, band of crooks, after money hidden away by corrupt landowner Arlington Wherewithal. Together Walker and the dogs should be able to outwit the baddies but it’s touch and go, and they’ll still have to work out where Arlington hid his ill-gotten gains. The story is action packed, enormously satisfying, and absolute heaven if you love dogs. The book features Rayner’s illustrations throughout and the final pages show you how to draw Walker and Stella the spaniel, an added treat.
Selected for The Book Box by LoveReading4Kids | This wonderfully absurd book starts with Rock Pigeon – who loves dressing up in disguises! Grandpouter Pigeon turns up on his farm to recruit Rock to a wonderfully mixed group of pigeons who all fight animal-based crimes! This is just a wonderful series of three odd crimes the group set out to solve – where are all the breadcrumbs, who is kidnapping bats, and can they stop a dinner disaster? These are fast moving tales, highly illustrated with black and white illustrations that move the stories along at a madcap pace. Young emerging readers will power through the book giving them confidence and a huge slice of fun as they read ‘a proper chapter book’. Funny books for this age group are always very welcome – and this one (the start of a series) – is so well done I am sure children will lap them up. The added bonus is a simple guide at the end of the book to the different sorts of pigeons who create the crime solving gang.
March 2021 Book of the Month | Forget Midsomer, Muddlemoor Village is a proper crime hotspot, especially with the annual Great Village Bake Off approaching. Joe is there for the holidays staying at his Granny’s and cousins Tom and Pip are too. The three children are alert for any kind of suspicious activity and have always suspected granny’s neighbour, former MI6 spy (so she says) Anthea and when Granny’s secret recipe for chocolate fudge layer cake goes missing, they’re immediately on the case. Ruth Doyle has a keen understanding of how children see the world, and an excellent ear for the way they speak too and this lively story is full of honest to goodness fun and adventure. I particularly like Pip – quiet, a thinker, not afraid of breaking rules, and quite often to be found upside down in a handstand. The hunt for the missing recipe unfolds wonderfully and there’s a twist at the end that Agatha Christie would be proud of. Marta Kissi’s illustrations are really lovely too.
Mina Mistry, primary school pupil and would-be private investigator, is back and ready to tackle another criminal case, assisted as ever by her best friend (and toy), Mr Panda. The new mystery concerns pets, specifically missing pets. First, her friend Holly’s hamster Harriet disappears, then Danny’s toad, then all the animals from the local petshop. What, or even who, could be behind the thefts and why? You can rely on Mina to solve the puzzle! The mystery is convincing and Mina’s accounts both of her detecting and ordinary school life always very lively. It’s an entertaining and readable adventure with just the right mix of real life and Scooby Doo style meddling! If pint-sized detectives are your thing, look out too for Stephan Pastis’ brilliant Timmy Failure books and Serena Patel’s new Anisha Accidental Detective series.
Five fantastic children on the adventure of a lifetime | Warm-hearted and mysterious The Unadoptables is a wonderfully entertaining adventure with a cast of fascinating characters set in a brilliantly evoked old-world Amsterdam and the surrounding countryside. Following the clues from the only possessions she was left with when she was abandoned as a baby and guided by her ‘Book of Theories’, the imaginative Milou leads her four friends – the least adoptable children in the very horrible Little Tulip Orphanage – to her family home where she is sure she will find her parents. Travelling through a freezing night the children arrive at their destination. But there is not the welcome they had expected. Where are Milou’s parents? And what is the mystery they need to solve? The creative ways in which the five children manage first to escape from the evil clutches of their matron and her evil accomplice Rotman and then to make a new life for themselves bamboozling neighbours and unravelling the mystery is vivid and captivating.
A brand new Skulduggery Pleasant novella for World Book Day: a hilarious and thrilling standalone story in the internationally bestselling series – perfect for new readers, and essential for Skulduggery fans… Three ancient gods are freed from their prison with only one desire: to destroy the planet and everyone on it. To save us all, Skulduggery Pleasant and Valkyrie Cain must go undercover in a Dublin school. Skulduggery has to blend in with the teaching staff, while Valkyrie has to pass for an ordinary schoolgirl. Above all else, no matter what happens, they both must act completely and utterly normal. We are so dead.
Check out the latest activities in our KidsZone.