The Blonde Bookworm: Truly Devious by Maureen Johnson -- Review

Truly Devious by Maureen Johnson -- Review

Monday, January 8, 2018

Title: Truly Devious
Author: Maureen Johnson
Pages: 432
Publishing: January 16th 2018 by Katherine Tegen Books

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 has been on my radar for a few months, and I was so excited to finally get my hands on a copy! The novel is mainly set in the present, but it flips back to 1936 as well. The novel begins with the mystery of the Ellingham family murders/disappearances in 1936, but we also follow along as another mystery unfolds in the present day. 

Stevie, the female lead, was obsessed with solving mysteries and determined to figure out what happened to Mr. Ellingham's family. She stopped at nothing and questioned everyone until she found what she was looking for. The characters were all unique and had very different personalities from each other, and I really enjoyed getting to know each of them. Another thing I loved was how there were two stories happening at once. It definitely added to the suspense of the novel. Every time I thought I was going to figure out another clue, it would switch to a different story line and leave me hanging, which I loved! 

All in all, Truly Devious was a fun and fast paced read that I would highly recommend to readers who enjoy YA mystery novels. The only thing I didn't absolutely love was the lack of resolution at the end of the novel. It was obvious that there will be other novels in the series, but I would have loved to have been left with a little more information at the end of the first novel. Oh well! It just makes me even more excited for book two! Thank you to Katherine Tegen Books for sending an advanced copy of the novel in exchange for an honest review. 

Rating 3.5/5


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