Teen Librarian Toolbox
Inside Teen Librarian Toolbox

Take 5: It’s Elementary (YA Fiction for fans of Sherlock)

While reading The Naturals by Jennifer Lynn Barnes, I couldn’t help but think that fans of the BBC Sherlock (or the CBS show Elementary) would enjoy reading it.  Which got me thinking: What other YA books would Sherlock fans enjoy?  Below is a list of 10 titles that fit the bill and I recommend.  You may have your own recommendations, so please feel free to join the discussion.  P.S., in case you didn’t know, I am absolutely obsessed with Sherlock.  I am also convinced that the BBC has some of the best television happening right now.

The Naturals by Jennifer Lynn Barnes


Cassie is a natural born profiler, enlisted in a special FBI program that seeks to hone the special talents of teens.  The Naturals get drawn into an active case when a package shows up at their dorm making it clear that this case is personal.  Cassie is no longer safe and she doesn’t know who to trust.

The Beekeeper’s Apprentice (Mary Russell #1) by Laurie King

“You cannot help being a female, and I should be something of a fool were I to discount your talents merely because of their housing.”

The retired Sherlock may have met his match in the form of one teenage girl named Mary Russell. Soon she is his pupil and they two are put to the test by a new, elusive villain.

A Spy in the House (The Agency #1) by Y. S. Lee

“Calmly, slowly, she reached behind with her left hand and came up against — yes, fabric. Fine linen, to be precise. So far, so good: she was inside a wardrobe, after all. The only problem was that this linen was oddly warm. Body warm. Beneath the tentative pressure of her palm, it seemed to be moving…”

Miss Scrimshaw’s Academy for Girls is the cover for an all female investigative unit called The Agency.  Mary Quinn is given one assignment: infiltrate a rich merchants house to find missing cargo ships.  Is there anyone in the house Mary can trust? Want more historical fiction with female spies? Check out Maid of Secrets by Jennifer McGowan.

The Name of the Star by Maureen Johnson

“Keep calm and carry on.
Also, stay in and hide because the Ripper is coming.”

Rory arrives in London the day a serial killer starts taking lives in a way that eerily resembles Jack the Ripper.  Rory spotted a man she thought was the killer, but she seems to be the only one that saw him.  Now, as the only witness, will she be his next victim?

The Butterfly Clues by Kate Ellison

“Maybe there is something when it all ends. Maybe there is memory, memory of the person you loved, when you lived. Maybe this is the white-light-tunnel deal, and I’m pressing toward it, and it’s pressing back, until we become the same thing.”

Since her brother disappeared, Lo’s desire to collect things has turned into obsession.  When she discovers a butterly pendant, it may be a clue to help her find her missing brother.

Daylight Saving by Edward Hogan

What happens when Momento and Mullholland Drive meet M Night (but when he was still considered good)? This happens. Daniel is dragged to a camp/resort/vacation spot with his father.  He feels drawn to the mysterious Lexi, but wonders why her bruises keep getting worse every time he sees her.  A dark figure stalks them both and Daniel has to solve the mystery of Lexi before it is too late.

Hemlock (Hemlock #1) by Kathleen Peacock

“You can’t lose what you never had.”  

When her best friend dies, Mackenzie vows to hunt her killer – a white werewolf.  In this world, werewolves live in plain sight. But there are dangerous secrets lurking in Hemlock that may make it hard for Mackenzie to keep her promise.

Eye of the Crow (The Boy Sherlock Holmes #1) by Shane Peacock

Granted, putting a young Sherlock Holmes title on the list may seem like cheating.  But it is good and you should read it.  Also, I feel like that is all I really need to say about this series: Young. Sherlock. Holmes.

The Sweetness at the Bottom of the Pie (Flavia de Luce #1) by Alan Bradley

“I wish I could say I was afraid, but I wasn’t. Quite the contrary. This was by far the most interesting thing that had ever happened to me in my entire life.”

Flavia de Luce is an 11 year old aspiring chemist that has a passion for poison.  Don’t they all? First there is a dead bird with a postage stamp on its beak.  Then there is a dead man in the cucumber patch.  To Falvia the investigation is the stuff of science. 

Code Name Verity by Elizabeth Wein

“I have two weeks. You’ll shoot me at the end no matter what I do.”

Technically, Code Name Verity is not a mystery.  It is, in fact, a marvelous piece of historical fiction full of friendship, spies and female pilots.  But you’ll have to pay attention while you read because the little things matter and you will be stunned by the amazing way Wein pulls all the pieces together to tell the details of this story – much like Sherlock solving a case.

Also, check out these programming ideas to celebrate all things Sherlock.

I know you have some titles to add to the list, right?  Please share in the comments.


  1. This is probably another cheat, but Andrew Lane has a young Sherlock Holmes series. The first book is Death Cloud. I've only listened to the audiobook, but it was very good.

  2. A great recommendation, thank you.

  3. See also the YA series about Sherlock's sister, Enola Holmes http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Enola_Holmes_Mysteries

  4. Great list! I would add the following:

    Bess Crawford series by Charles Todd
    Secret Letters by Leah Scheier
    Wrapped by Jennifer Bradbury
    novels by Kate Morton (especially The Forgotten Garden & The House at Riverton)
    Peter Wimsey series by Dorothy L. Sayers (especially those that include Harriet Vane as a character)

    And of course the original Sherlock Holmes novels and short story collections by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle.

  5. Jen Phillips says:

    I second this book and the series. Love it so much my sister bought me books 4 & 5 from amazon UK. I cannot wait for book 6!

  6. This comment has been removed by the author.

  7. Oooo I love YA mysteries 🙂 Thanks for letting your readers post their suggestions. I am sure I will find some really exciting reads. I have to recommend YA thriller and mystery “The Riddle of Prague” by author Laura DeBruce (http://theriddleofprague.com/about/). The lead character, 18 year old Hana Silna, is forced into the adventure of a lifetime when she travels to Prague to reclaim her families home “The Rockery.” She finds a notebook in the basement from an infamous alchemist that is filled with clues and riddles leading to the elixir of immortality! She is not the only one who knows about this and Hana is stuck in the middle of an epic power struggle to rediscover the elixir. She partners up with fellow teenager Alex and they have to solve the mystery and find the elixir before the bad guys find them first! I found this book hugely entertaining and I can’t wait for the next book, “The Temple of Paris”!!

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