Three Times Lucky ended up on my list. I think a fellow blogger covered it. It's a kid's book - probably great for age 11-12. But let me tell you - I loved every single word written!
Mo is an eleven year old who, at infancy, was sent down river in a hurricane, separated from her birth mother. In the same storm, a mysterious, but lovable man, whom they refer to as The Colonel, turned up in the same small southern town. Mo, The Colonel, and a woman named Lana - who has a very interesting relationship with The Colonel - live together in this small town, running the diner, which is also pretty much the center of the town's universe.
When a man turns up dead, Mo and her friend Dale start up a detective agency. In addition to "finding lost pets for free" and searching for Mo's "Up-River Mother," the two begin searching for the murderer. At odds with, and sometimes in cahoots with, a real detective, the two turn up clues, laughter, and middle school angst among humor and intelligence. This is a wonderful example of showing that awkward, yet SO perfect time in life. Pre-teenhood. Yes, you have braces and glasses, and feel too big or small for your body, but you are old enough to understand some of the adult world, while still maintaining some innocence about it.
Turnage has created what I hope will become a classic. GREAT for any age.