At Gemma, we’re sometimes asked: What’s the secret to a successful HiLo title? Is there a formula for books that engage and inspire adults who are learning to read?

Our reply? There’s no secret and no formula. The success of our books relies on the skill, creativity and commitment of our talented authors.

In this series, we dive into the Gemma Open Door bookshelf to explore the astonishing range of influences our authors have drawn on when writing their books for us.

Mystery: Susan Thompson, The Two-Wheeled Detective

“Biking home, Tami did not notice the warm afternoon. Wasn’t it odd that Julia Jackson died so soon after her threat? Tami shivered. The timing was curious. Tami heard her mother’s voice. Mind your own business, Ms. Nosy.” Susan Thompson, The Two-wheeled Detective

Readers love mysteries. In fact, mystery (with thriller and crime) is the second most popular book genre worldwide, accounting for around a third of all book sales.

So, it’s perfectly predictable that beginning readers would want to read mysteries just like everyone else does. And why should they miss out? Why shouldn’t they experience the page-turning pleasure of a juicy detective story or a clever whodunit?

Knowing that our audience would thank us, Gemma went in search of its very own HiLo mystery series. But finding it wasn’t easy.

We knew our series had to be special, carefully tailored to meet the needs of our particular audience. The books had to have the right level of language for beginning readers. The stories needed to be thrilling yet not so horrifying they couldn’t be shared with a typical class of adult literacy learners.

We searched high and low. We began to wonder if it was even possible to find such books or the author who could write them. Then we met Susan Thompson and she introduced us to Tami Tripper, her free-spirited, bike-riding young detective. For us, it was love at first read.

In her first outing, Tami tackles the suspicious death of an elderly lady, Julia Jackson. Most of her family members have reasons to wish she was dead, but only one is guilty of the crime. It takes all of Tami’s ingenuity, bravery and plain old nosiness to work out the identity of the murderer. But tenacious Tami won’t stop—she can’t stop—until the truth is revealed.

This is only Tami’s first adventure. More Two-Wheeled Detective books are in the pipeline, making it the first authentic mystery series for beginning readers.