New York Times bestselling author Maureen Johnson weaves a delicate tale of murder and mystery in the first book of a striking new series, perfect for fans of Agatha Christie and E. Lockhart.
Ellingham Academy is a famous private school in Vermont for the brightest thinkers, inventors, and artists. It was founded by Albert Ellingham, an early twentieth century tycoon, who wanted to make a wonderful place full of riddles, twisting pathways, and gardens. “A place,” he said, “where learning is a game.”
Shortly after the school opened, his wife and daughter were kidnapped. The only real clue was a mocking riddle listing methods of murder, signed with the frightening pseudonym “Truly, Devious.” It became one of the great unsolved crimes of American history.
True-crime aficionado Stevie Bell is set to begin her first year at Ellingham Academy, and she has an ambitious plan: She will solve this cold case. That is, she will solve the case when she gets a grip on her demanding new school life and her housemates: the inventor, the novelist, the actor, the artist, and the jokester. But something strange is happening. Truly Devious makes a surprise return, and death revisits Ellingham Academy. The past has crawled out of its grave. Someone has gotten away with murder.
The two interwoven mysteries of this first book in the Truly Devious series dovetail brilliantly, and Stevie Bell will continue her relentless quest for the murderers in books two and three.
Truly Devious (Truly Devious #1) by Maureen Johnson
Published by Katherine Tegen Books on 16/01/2018
Genres: Graphic Novel
Truly Devious is a book that’s been on my radar for quite awhile. I kept hearing that I will want the next book, so I kept putting it off. This month Truly Devious is a group read in the TBR & Beyond group.
Which means I finally picked it up and am excited to talk about what I read. I couldn’t put this book down and read it in a day!
“Where her books were, she was. Get the books right and the rest will follow.”
This is my first book by Maureen Johnson and it didn’t disappoint. I’ve really been enjoying YA thrillers and mysteries lately and Truly Devious was a book I didn’t know I needed. It’s over 400 pages and I just couldn’t put it down!
Ellingham Academy is a school developed in the ’30s by the rich Albert Ellingham. He looked for promising students and let them come there for free and study what they wanted. Everything the need is available and if not, the school will get a student what they need. This school ends up in the spotlights when Ellingham’s wife and daughter are kidnapped and the kidnapper asks for ransom. A student is also found dead. This case is never solved.
Speed up to present day and our main character Stevie loves everything that has to do with murder. She loves listening to podcasts and is there to solve the case and find answers for the school. Truly Devious strikes again and her new school year becomes a bit more exciting than she was expecting.
“There is something about early mornings that changes your perceptions subtly. The light is new; no one has put on the defences of the day. All is reset and not quite real yet.”
Boarding schools are one of my favorite settings for a book and Ellingham Academy sounds like a place I would love to visit. The way it was described I felt like I was there and couldn’t get enough. I think because the author took the time to tell us what it looked like, it was a lot easier to imagine how things looked and happened.
On top of an amazing setting, Maureen Johnson gave us a lot of characters. They were all so unique/diverse and because of that, I had no clue who Truly Devious would be. Everytime things would happen, I would have a suspect and then something else occurs and I was back to the drawing board. Stevie is a good main character. She knows what she loves and is going for it. She is fighting her own anxiety and some issues she has with her family, but I think Stevie gets a lot stronger during this book. She learns a lot about herself and finds her people.
“You have to take things as they are, not how you hear they’re supposed to be.”
My favorite part of this book was the dual timeline. I loved reading about everything happening in the ’30s and then jumping back to present day as Stevie is investigating the cold case and looking into the new Truly Devious. Every time we got a switch, it made me want to get back to the other timeline and find out what was going on. This book kept me on my toes and I wasn’t able to guess who was behind it all. I always see that as a compliment to the author if they can keep me on my toes like that.
All in all, Truly Devious was an amazing story. Great characters, worldbuilding, dual timelines and writing that leaves you wanting more. At times the story was a little slow, but that didn’t really bother me. I think the only thing that did was the open ending. While I love a book that leaves you hanging, I’ve never experienced it in a book like this before. I will definitely continue with the sequel and impatiently wait for the third book to be released!
As I said, I will definitely be continuing with this series! YA mysteries and thrillers are something I really need to read more of. If you have some more recommendations, let me know in the comments!