An agent recommended Philip Pullman’s Sally Lockhart trilogy as an example of a fun YA mystery series to be emulated. So I read the first one, The Ruby in the Smoke. And was impressed. Pullman is more recently known for the His Dark Materials trilogy, including The Golden Compass.
The Sally Lockhart trilogy is a whole other kettle of fish. The Ruby in the Smoke is set in1872 London and features a diverse cast of characters of all walks of life. And back in 1872, people cared about such things.
Vivid characters, evocative language, an unusual heroine, and a multi-faceted mystery, all come together to make a great read. This is just the sort of thing I would have loved to read as a kid. When it was published in 1985, I was a teenaged girl, but I had moved on to more grown up fare (or that required for High School English class or for my father who preferred me to have a grounding in the classics of English literature). So I had never heard of Pullman or Lockhart or this opium-fueled romp through 19th century London.
If you love to get lost in a good mystery, give this one a go.