Book Review – Truly Devious by Maureen Johnson

“A girl from Pittsburgh came to Ellingham Academy and she wanted to see a dead body. She got her wish.”

Hello Bookworms, today I will be reviewing Truly Devious, the first book in a thrilling  murder mystery series.

Genre: Fiction, Mystery

Rating: ⭐⭐⭐⭐(3/5 stars)

Publisher:Published January 16th 2018 by HarperCollins

Length: Hardcover, 416 pages

Summary: 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. (Goodreads)

Recommendation:I LOVED THIS BOOK! It effortlessly combines mystery, murder, and romance all in one. The main character; Stevie hooks on to readers, as she takes us along on her journey to solve one of the greatest murders of American history. Stevie is very relatable and inspiring to readers as she is competent, efficient, and intelligent. The writing style of Maureen Johnson was perfect, and it fit the storyline, building up the intensity, and suspense where it is needed. The author was even able to implement Agatha Christie references into the story. Overall, this novel is perfect for YA mystery lovers, and readers who love trying to solve the mystery throughout the book. Although it is annoying that none of the storylines in the novel came to a conclusion, hopefully, the sequel will be able to answer some questions! I would recommend this book to ages 13-18.

A little about the author: Maureen knew from an early age she wanted to be a writer. She went to high school at an all-girls’ Catholic school and graduated from University of Delaware with a degree in writing. She now lives and writes in New York City. Many of the adventures Maureen’s characters face in her books are based on real-life stories. Maureen has traveled all over Europe, and is a Secret Sister to vlogbrothers Hank and John Green. (Goodreads)

Praise for Truly Devious 

“The Agatha Christie-like ecosystem pairs with lacerating contemporary wit, and alternating past and present scenes makes for a multilayered, modern detective story.”
— New York Times Book Review

“Jumping between past and present, Johnson’s novel is deliciously atmospheric, with a sprawling cast of complex suspects/potential victims, surprising twists, and a dash of romance. As in her Shades of London books, Johnson remains a master at combining jittery tension with sharp, laugh-out-loud observations.”
— Publishers Weekly (starred review)

“Johnson deftly twists two mysteries together—Stevie’s investigation is interspersed with case files and recollections from the Ellington kidnapping—and the result is a suspenseful, attention-grabbing mystery with no clear solution. The versatile Johnson is no stranger to suspense, and this twisty thriller will leave plenty of readers anxious for more.”
— Booklist

Thanks for reading!📚


One response to “Book Review – Truly Devious by Maureen Johnson”

  1. I’ve been wanting to read this one, I think I am going to listen to the audio after I finish a couple of series.


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