Review: The Truly Devious Trilogy

truly deviousthe vanishing stairthe hand on the wall

Book Titles:

  1. Truly Devious
  2. The Vanishing Stair
  3. The Hand on the Wall

Author: Maureen Johnson

Genre: Mystery, Young Adult

Series Complete: Yes

To buy the boxset: Indigo

Summary (from first book): 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. 

This trilogy was extremely hard to read for me, due to the fact that I did wait a year between each book. Before I picked up The Hand on the Wall though, I committed to going back and reading the first two books once again, as I often do when a new book in a trilogy or series comes out.

I am so glad I took the time to read this book this way.

I still love Stevie as much at the end of the trilogy as I did at the beginning, with her thirst for solving mysteries and her determination to do so. I can, however, see why other people might not see her as a great character. She is slightly isolationist, especially when she wants to get things done.

I love the friendships within this book, especially those with Stevie, Janelle and Nate. The three of them have a great bond, with each having their own defined personality and differences.

The mystery from the past, I had guessed the culprit prior to it being revealed, but was still surprised and saddened by what was revealed in the third book. The Ellingham story was definitely a tragedy, albeit a rather fantastical one.

The modern-day mystery was one that I definitely could not figure it out. I love and hate when I couldn’t figure it out. It contained an extremely lively cast of characters and every time I thought I had the culprit figured out I was wrong.

I found the ending satisfying and the trilogy as a whole was fun.

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