I’ve been hard at work writing an early chapter book mystery story and it hasn't been easy! I love a good mystery but I’m finding that to write one you have to stick with a formula, like so many of these books do. The goal is for the reader to follow along with the detective and figure out “who-done-it” before the end of the book. What I like about these series is that they encourage reluctant readers with a quick read and several books in the series to choose from. Here’s a review of just one of the popular Cam Jansen books:
Cam Jansen and the Mystery of the Dinosaur Bones (by David A. Adler, copyright 1981, Scholastic)
The detective: Cam Jansen is a not-so-ordinary fifth grader with a photographic memory and the ability to “click” and record a mental picture that helps her solve the crime.
Friend and assistant: Fellow classmate Eric Shelton
Setting: Natural History Museum
The crime: Bones are missing from the dinosaur skeleton.
Clues: A milk carton, book about dinosaurs, postcard picturing a dinosaur, milk delivery truck
Suspects: The tour guide and scientist who started the museum
The investigation: An after-hours visit to the museum, home of the perps.
Resolution: Catching the bad guys red-handed as they replace the stolen bones with plaster replicas.
Here are a few more early chapter book mystery series: A to Z Mysteries, A Jigsaw Jones Mystery, A Chet Gecko Mystery and Encyclopedia Brown.