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5 Books like Nancy Drew Mystery Stories: Grab a Torch and Look for Clues

Jane Howarth itcherThere aren’t truly any books like ‘Nancy Drew Mystery Stories’ (‘The Famous Five’ and ‘Hardy Boys’ excepted) – but I think readers will love classic adventures such as ‘The Demon Headmaster’ and newer reads like ‘The London Eye Mystery’. ~ Jane Howarth

Ghosts in the Attic

Let’s get the hard bit over and done with. Our beloved ‘Nancy Drew’ author, Carolyn Keene? Actually a series of ghostwriters, which is disappointing but does solve the greatest mystery of all – how fresh novels are still being added to the series 85 years on.

The first of those busy ghosts, Mildred Wirt Benson, set the formula of high stakes plots and ingenuity – plus a young amateur sleuth, of course. So I’m going to borrow her criteria.

Handpicked from dusty bookshelves or hot off the presses, these mystery stories will all give ‘Nancy Drew’ readers plenty of clues to puzzle over.

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Books Similar to ‘Nancy Drew Mystery Stories’…

‘The Baby-Sitters Club Mystery #1: Stacey and the Missing Ring’ (Ann M. Martin, 1991)

Image Source: Goodreads

See, it’s a birthstone ring. It’s gorgeous, and it would be so – so meaningful for me.

Another ghostwritten series, though Ann M. Martin really does exist (and wrote plenty of the earlier books). Out of print but available in second hand form and e-reader formats, the forty ‘BSC Mysteries’ are addictive reading with a ‘Nancy Drew’ feel.

The girls explore all the staples – thefts, ghosts, riddles and more. And they’ve got to solve each problem while preserving the baby-sitters’ trustworthy reputation and protecting kids from danger.

In the first book, we follow Stacey (one of my personal favourites, but you’ll soon find your own) as she tries to locate a client’s missing ring. Poor timing means that this baby-sitter has been talking non-stop about wanting a similar ring from the town jewellery store… uh-oh.

Similarity Match: 90%
Another long-running series to keep young mystery lovers absorbed for ages, this time with added baby-sitter responsibilities to juggle.

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‘The Face on the Milk Carton’ (Caroline B. Cooney, 1990)

How can I be kidnapped? thought Janie.

For over-twelves wanting a ‘next step’ book like ‘Nancy Drew Mystery Stories’, Caroline B. Cooney’s four book series is just the thing.

Janie is a regular teen with loving parents. But when she sees a photo of her childhood self on a milk carton, along with a child snatching report that fits her age in the picture, her world is turned upside down.

Once you’ve let Janie get to the bottom of this unsettling mystery, why not try these other books that missed out on a Newbery Medal like ‘The Outsiders’ (S. E. Hinton, 1967)?

Similarity Match: 80%
Janie’s closer in age, giving her more ‘Nancy Drew’ style independence along with plenty of ingenuity, though the unsettling plot makes this a book for readers to progress to.

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‘The Demon Headmaster’ (Gillian Cross, 1984)

Image Source: Amazon

What’s the matter? Scarlet sausages, why should I want to talk about school when I’m not there? You’d think anyone would be glad to escape for a day or two…

Newly fostered Dinah thinks something at the local school is amiss. The other children are acting strangely, as if they’re being controlled somehow – and though Dinah and her foster brothers are on the trail, they’re far from stopping the dastardly scheme.

If this series’ six volumes aren’t enough, don’t worry! Jo’s recommendations for books any 9 year old girl will love are brilliant – ‘The Demon Headmaster’ is on there, but who knows what else you’ll discover?

Similarity Match: 75%
‘The Demon Headmaster’ adds a sci-fi element to the mix, but loyal ‘Nancy Drew’ readers should enjoy the mystery-solving routine.

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‘The London Eye Mystery’ (Siobhan Dowd, 2014)

Image Source: Amazon

He turned and waved to Kat and me as he boarded, but you couldn’t see his face, just his shadow.

‘The London Eye Mystery’ follows two school-age detectives with their fair share of flaws and moments of bad judgement. While Nancy Drew’s almost always in control, this is a completely different situation.

Stranger danger also plays a part in this very modern tale. Ted and Kat’s cousin disappears from the London Eye after the kids are given a free ticket by a passer-by – but how could anyone disappear from a sealed capsule?

With the police at a loss, the kids use their own methods to find their relation.

Similarity Match: 75%
It’s got a very contemporary, very British feel, but ‘Nancy Drew’ fans should find this locked room mystery hard to resist.

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If You Like ‘Nancy Drew Mystery Stories’, You Will Like…

Nancy Drew is a (relatively) modern heroine, but a lot of young mystery lovers will love unravelling this puzzle with a historical twist.

‘The Mystery of the Clockwork Sparrow’ (Katherine Woodfine, 2015)

Image Source: Egmont

‘Highlights from this renowned collection include… a charming Clockwork Sparrow, originating from the Russian Imperial Court.’

The first ‘Nancy Drew’ book was ‘The Secret of the Old Clock’, so let’s continue the theme with this ‘Clockwork Sparrow’.

When a Hoxton clockmaker is murdered and a thief strikes in a Piccadilly department store, it’s up to Sophie, a young sales assistant, to prove whodunit.

Set in the Edwardian era, there are vintage stylings aplenty – but first appearing in 2015, it’s completely up-to-date too. The Guardian’s young reviewer can’t wait for the next instalment, set for a 2016 release. Can you hold out?

Historical charm? Not so ‘Nancy’. But the brave amateur detective and her high-stakes problem will make it hard to resist.

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Not Enough Jet-Setting?

Well, there’s always another option – if you can get hold of any ‘Dana Girls’ books, grab them! Written under the Carolyn Keene pen name and out of print for decades, they follow boarding school students on ‘Nancy Drew’ style adventures. Absolutely perfect.

But before you go, if you know an amazing mystery story for ‘Nancy Drew’ fans, add it in the comments!

Hi, I’m Jane, BA (Drama, Film and TV) and MA (Cultural and Creative Industries). When I’m not writing about creative things, I’m designing or planning them. If you’re brave enough to risk an avalanche, look behind the stacks of books and DVDs and you’ll find me balancing a cup of tea, a handful of knitting and a cupcake.
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