Her Dooley series fits the urban problem kid theme, but she doesn't have to keep the reading level low. Dooley Takes the Fall, the first book, hooked me with his refusal to give out easy answers. It's a mystery, but the emphasis is on the character who is trying to pick himself up after some horrific decisions. I just noticed the sequel, Homicide Related (Ryan Dooley Mysteries), and I grabbed it from Amazon immediately.
Again the mystery isn't the strength of the book. There are murders, and Dooley is a suspect because of his past, but more interesting is how Dooley addresses his problems, both the looming problem of the police but also his relationship with Beth (whose mother thinks he is a thug) and his relationship with his uncle, who has been keeping secrets from Dooley. I'm looking forward to the third book, which is out in Canada but not here until February. A