A to Z Mysteries
The front cover art for The Absent Author, the first book in the A to Z Mysteries series
A to Z Mysteries (26 titles)
A to Z Mysteries Super Edition (continuing)
|Illustrator||John Steven Gurney|
|Genre||Children's, mystery novels|
|Published||September 23, 1997-April 26, 2005 (main series)|
2006–present (sequel and spinoff)
|Media type||Print (paperback)|
A to Z Mysteries is a popular series of mysteries for children, written by Ron Roy, illustrated by John Steven Gurney, and published by Random House. The series is generally considered among the best "easy readers" for young children. There are twenty-six books in the original series; one for each letter of the alphabet. The series begins with The Absent Author (1997) and ends with The Zombie Zone (2005).
The books follow the adventures of three child detectives, Donald David "Dink" Duncan, Josh Pinto, and Ruth Rose Hathaway. They are nine years old and live in Green Lawn, a fictional town in Connecticut and they become friends.
Other characters include Pal, a dog who once belonged to criminals and now lives with Josh; Wallis Wallace, a mystery writer and sometime participant; and Mr. Linkletter, the local hotel receptionist. Others include Officer Fallon, Josh's younger twin brothers Bradley and Brian, Ruth Rose's younger brother Nate, and Mr. Pasky, owner of the local bookstore in Green Lawn.
The success of the original series inspired a follow-up series called A to Z Mysteries Super Edition with the same characters. The first book in this series, Detective Camp, was published in May 2006. In addition, Roy and Gurney created a spin-off series titled Calendar Mysteries, beginning with "January Joker" on December 22, 2009.
An article in The Horn Book Magazine states that one reason for the series' popularity may be that the main characters "are about as hip as oatmeal", offering relief to readers who may feel burdened by peer pressure.
The Absent Author
|September 23, 1997|
|Media type||Print (Hardback & Paperback)|
|Followed by||The Bald Bandit|
The Absent Author was written in 1997, and is the first book in the A to Z Mysteries series. In the first installment, the Absent Author, we meet the young team: the well read and thoughtful Dink (that's Donald David Duncan); neighbor Ruth Rose; and best friend Josh. The plot involves three amateur detectives Dink, Josh, and Ruth Rose who come across a mystery when they begin to suspect that a famous mystery writer named Wallis Wallace was kidnapped when he did not show up for a book-signing.
The Bald Bandit
The Bald Bandit was written in 1997 and is the second book in the series, following the adventures of three junior detectives, Dink, Josh, and Ruth Rose. When the Green Lawn Bank is robbed and when a Detective Ready knocks on Dink's door asking for help, the trio is on the case immediately with only one clue: a red-haired teen who filmed the incident.
The Canary Caper
The Canary Caper, the third book in the series, was written in 1998. The plot follows Dink, Josh, and Ruth Rose investigating a series of animal thefts. However, not long after the theft occurs, the animals are returned and all is peaceful. Until the pet owners houses are robbed the very night the pets are returned. This makes the trio look for a connection and eventually leads to a stakeout at a proposed victim's house.
- This book was published on March 3, 1998, along with The Deadly Dungeon.
The Deadly Dungeon
The Deadly Dungeon, the fourth book in the series, was written in 1998. The trio heads up to Wallis Wallace's castle in Maine where they begin to hear strange noises in the night. While Wallis Wallace says that it is the ghost of a famous movie star who lived there years back, Dink, Josh, and Ruth Rose believe otherwise and are determined to find out the truth. When they find big footprints, Dink and Josh believe it is Wallis' brother, as his feet are about the same size as the footprints. However, Ruth Rose insists it wasn't him, as the trio gets trapped and they know Wallis's brother couldn't do that. At the end, they trap the real culprit.
- This book was published on March 3, 1998, along with The Canary Caper.
The Empty Envelope
The Empty Envelope, the fifth book in the series, was written in 1998. Donald David "Dink" Duncan gets several letters in the mailbox addressed to "D. Duncan".... but finds when opening them that they all start with "Dear Doris" and are not meant for him. While his friends Josh Pinto and Ruth Rose Hathaway think it is someone's idea of a joke, Dink suspects that there is more to it than that. His suspicions are practically confirmed when Doris Duncan herself shows up one day to acquire the letters and demands them immediately. Not knowing that Ruth Rose's little brother Nate took the letters unaware that they were something important, Dink apologizes to Ms. Duncan, who then leaves in an unpleasant mood. Dink and his friends investigate the letters, uncover a code in the wording, and find a valuable stamp concealed in one of the envelopes hidden under a worthless stamp. Then the owner of the valuable stamp comes to get it back. The book is a prequel to The Falcon's Feathers.
- This book was published on April 16, 1998.
The Falcon's Feathers
The Falcon's Feathers, the sixth book in the series, was written in 1998. In the book, Josh discovers a falcons’ nest, he checks on the young birds every day. But when he tries to show Dink and Ruth Rose, the nest is empty! When they found a baby falcon's wing trimmed, they know that someone is stealing the falcons from Green Lawn. Now they have to find them before it is to late.
- This book was published on October 13, 1998.
List of Books in the series
The Absent Author (September 23, 1997)
The Bald Bandit (September 23, 1997)
The Canary Caper (March 3, 1998)
The Deadly Dungeon (March 3, 1998)
The Empty Envelope (April 16, 1998)
The Falcon's Feathers (October 13, 1998)
The Goose's Gold (December 29, 1998)
The Haunted Hotel (June 15, 1999)
The Invisible Island (October 12, 1999)
The Jaguar's Jewel (February 22, 2000)
The Kidnapped King (June 27, 2000)
The Lucky Lottery (November 28, 2000)
The Missing Mummy (February 27, 2001)
The Ninth Nugget (June 26, 2001)
The Orange Outlaw (October 23, 2001)
The Panda Puzzle (February 26, 2002)
The Quicksand Question (May 28, 2002)
The Runaway Racehorse (October 22, 2002)
The School Skeleton (January 28, 2003)
The Talking T-Rex (June 24, 2003)
The Unwilling Umpire (February 24, 2004)
The Vampire's Vacation (July 27, 2004)
The White Wolf (November 23, 2004)
The X'ed-Out X-Ray (February 22, 2005)
The Yellow Yacht (March 22, 2005)
The Zombie Zone (April 26, 2005)
In late 2018, American food chain Popeyes Louisiana Kitchen released the series in smaller sizes with re-illustrated covers in their kids meals.
A to Z Mysteries Super Edition
The sequel series, A to Z Mysteries Super Edition, is set one year after the original series and in different places rather than at home in Connecticut. The books are about fifty pages longer than the original volumes.
A to Z Mysteries Super Edition (8 volumes to 2015)
Detective Camp (May 9, 2006)
Mayflower Treasure Hunt (August 28, 2007)
White House White-out (August 12, 2008)
Sleepy Hollow Sleepover (July 27, 2010)
The New Year Dragon Dilemma (November 22, 2011)
The Castle Crime (January 28, 2014)
Operation Orca (June 28, 2015)
Secret Admirer (December 22, 2015)
April Fools' Fiasco (February 28, 2017)
Colossal Fossil (February 27, 2018)
Grand Canyon Grab (March 5, 2019)
The A to Z Mysteries have also led to a spinoff series called Calendar Mysteries, starting with January Joker. The series is aimed at second and third graders and focuses on Dink's cousin Lucy, Josh's younger twin brothers Brian and Bradley, and Ruth Rose's younger brother Nate. The main characters from A to Z Mysteries also make occasional appearances. While A to Z Mysteries focused on alliterating the alphabet to book titles, Calendar Mysteries relates the titles and themes to the different months of the year. The time and settings of each book often correspond to various holidays in a given month.
January Joker (December 22, 2009)
February Friend (December 22, 2009)
March Mischief (January 26, 2010)
April Adventure (February 9, 2010)
May Magic (March 22, 2011)
June Jam (March 22, 2011)
July Jitters (June 26, 2012)
August Acrobat (June 26, 2012)
September Sneakers (August 6, 2013)
October Ogre (August 6, 2013)
November Night (August 26, 2014)
December Dog (September 23, 2014)
New Year's Eve Thieves (September 23, 2014)
- "Best Easy Readers" Archived December 14, 2009, at the Wayback Machine, Scholastic Magazine, May 10, 2007.
- "Book Reviews: Preschool to Grade 4", School Library Journal, August 1, 2007.
- Beram, Nell (January–February 2004). "Paperback Books for Young People: The Beaten Path". The Horn Book Magazine. Boston. LXXX (1): 53. ISSN 0018-5078.
- "A to Z Mysteries" (archived 2010-03-27); (). Kids@Random (randomhouse.com/kids). Retrieved 2014-04-07.
- "Book Finder: A to Z Mysteries". Random House Kids (randomhousekids.com). Retrieved 2014-04-07.
- "A to Z Mysteries" Archived September 7, 2013, at the Wayback Machine. Ron Roy (ronroy.com). 2005–2011. Retrieved 2014-04-07.