New York Times best-selling 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 20th 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.
©2018 HarperCollins Publishers (P)2018 HarperCollins Publishers
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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful
3 out of 5 stars
By gwyndolin on 09-02-18

Thoroughly Enjoyable Story with Awful Narration

What did you love best about Truly Devious?

WARNING TO ANY PROSPECTIVE READERS: Although I loved this book, it ends on a really obnoxious cliffhanger and almost nothing gets resolved.

But it's saying something that, despite that, I still really enjoyed it. I should've known going in after reading quite a few of Johnson's books that it wouldn't give me closure (pretty sure Suite Scarlett is NEVER going to have a third book) but after how disappointingly boring I found her book "The Name of the Star", especially for its cop-out explanation to the 'mystery' being GHOSTS ARE REAL instead of... a real mystery, I really enjoyed this story.

It's still not grounded in anything close to the reality you and I know, but that works for it. Eccentric millionaires and long-past murder mysteries that interweive with the present are far-fetched, but Johnson makes it believable enough to work. It is really obnoxious that basically nothing is solved by the end... but I guess that's one way to make us look out for book 2.

What was one of the most memorable moments of Truly Devious?

I loved the characters. Stevie was a pretty enjoyable protagonist - just weird and antisocial enough to avoid being bland but not too much that she was actually unlikable. As usual, Johnson handles the little love interest subplot very well. I thought Janelle could have used more development, but maybe she will get it in following books.

How could the performance have been better?

This may be the first time I found an audible narrator so distracting I almost couldn't go on with the story. Her annunciation is just so... off. She over pronounces the "t's" and ends of words. Weirdly, her voices she does for boys sound perfectly natural, but her usual narration for anything but dialogue (i.e. most of the book) is so grating and unnatural. It's almost like she's trying to do an impression of a vampire or something? It was just SO distracting! Plus, you can tell Johnson is a pretty funny writer, even in this book (I know she is from her other ones) but this narrator just can't seem to deliver her writing in any comedic way. Her timing is so off.

I really hope for the second book they get a new narrator.

Did you have an extreme reaction to this book? Did it make you laugh or cry?

I had EXTREME frustration at the ending, but the last hour or so made my heart race a little bit. For a YA book, that's pretty damn good.

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1 of 1 people found this review helpful

5 out of 5 stars
By Sara Blanco on 22-05-18

Brilliant YA mystery. I absolutely loved it.

Rich setting and characters, truly puzzling mysteries and riddles, and a perfectly balanced treatment of adolescence along the way.

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