A Lifetime of Mystery Novels

The fictional female detectives I grew up alongside

Natalie B. Kemp


Photo by Volodymyr Hryshchenko on Unsplash

I’ve read mystery novels my whole life. In fact, the very first chapter books I ever read as a budding young reader were mysteries.

One of the things that I loved about these books is that the protagonists they featured were female crime solvers fairly close in age to mine at that point in time.

Not only did the reading level increase, but the protagonists aged alongside me. They were usually a bit older than I was at the time, but typically only a few years or so.

Cam Jansen Mysteries by David A. Adler

I was introduced to these books by our school librarian when I was in grade two. She noticed that my reading level was far beyond my peers and knew I needed something more challenging than picture books. I’m incredibly grateful that she recommended these to me, as I was immediately hooked.

These stories star Cam Jansen, a curious fifth grader with a photographic memory. She solves mysteries alongside her pal Eric, though of course these are all cases that an elementary schooler may encounter.

I loved all the adventures that Cam & Eric would go on. And with her smarts and assertive attitude she was definitely someone I hoped I would be like when I got to grade five.

Stevie Diamond Mysteries by Linda Bailey

I don’t remember how old I was when I made the switch, or how I found this series, but these were the mystery novels I remember being super into.

These books were set in Canada, and even though Vancouver is far from the city of Hamilton where I grew up I remember loving that about them. The series features twelve year old detective Stevie Diamond and her pal Jesse.

I remember these books being full of adventure and laughs. And there was something extra relatable about Stevie, who though daring and witty also was shown to make mistakes along the way. Also, as a girl who wasn’t particularly “girly” I loved that Stevie was similarly a bit androgynous.

These books are unfortunately no longer in print, but if you’re able to find old copies they’re definitely worth a…



Natalie B. Kemp

Community enthusiast and outdoor educator, passionate about connecting with people of all ages and helping them to connect with nature.