Which is your favourite whodunnit?

Which is your favourite whodunnit?

One is never too young to curl up with a juicy mystery and work those little grey cells

When people tell me they want to pick up the reading habit but find it hard to sit through an entire book, I suggest they start with detective fiction. The human brain loves puzzles. That’s what a detective story gives you, along with a unique (and mostly likeable) detective, a gripping storyline, an adrenaline rush and the satisfying moment of revelation when the bad guy gets his due. If any book has the ability to make a person stick with it until the end, it has to be a good whodunnit!

I’m not alone in this opinion, for sure. Proof: The millions of copies of detective and crime thrillers sold over the centuries! Children love whodunnits too, though the ‘it’ is slightly tamer in children’s books, like thieving rather
than murder.

My staple diet as a kid was Enid Blyton’s books with mystery-solving children. My favourite detectives were the Five Find-Outers (and Dog) — their hunt for clues, their disguises, the way they put two and two together and hit upon the solution — so simple, so brilliant! I graduated to the Three Investigators, the Nancy Drew and Hardy Boys series, which feature teen detectives who court danger and deal with more serious crimes, including murder. By the time I entered my teens, I had jumped directly to the classic Agatha Christie and Sherlock Holmes. These books, though written for adults, are generally milder and less gory in nature than other adult crime fiction, and so, are appropriate for young teens too.

When my daughter started reading mysteries, I discovered that there were a whole bunch of other detective series out there! The Nate the Great series by Marjorie Weinman Sharmat is perfect for early readers, with small sentences and chapters, and simple storylines. In the A to Z Mysteries by Ron Roy, child detectives Dink, Josh and Ruth Rose solve mysteries in books that have names starting with the letters A through Z.

Fans of Alexander McCall Smith’s Number One Ladies’ Detective Agency (which, by the way, is appropriate for teens too), will be happy to know that there is a Precious Ramotswe Mysteries for Young Readers too, with a child Mma Ramotswe solving little problems. Another favourite in our home is The Wollstonecraft Detective Agency Series. The author Jordan Stratford puts together two historical characters, Ada Lovelace the mathematician and Mary Shelley, the writer, in a fictional friendship, and the girls solve mysteries using math, science and logic in early 19th century London.

Closer home, Mira the Detective by Pavithra Sankaran and The Shy Supergirl by Shabnam Minwalla are lovely Duckbill hOle books with smart young girls solving neighbourhood mysteries in a relatable setting. Speaking about Indian detectives, how can we forget Satyajit Ray’s Feluda? These detective stories set all around India, are great for tweens and teens. We can never be too young to curl up with a nice juicy mystery and work those little grey cells!

The author got a master’s degree in energy engineering and worked in the IT industry until her daughter dragged out the writer lurking inside her. She has written eight books for children and can be reached at www.shruthi-rao.com

GobbledyBook is a fortnightly column that will give you a peek into the wondrous world of children’s books. Hop on! Or as Alice did, just plunge into the rabbit hole.

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