Book List 2018

Review: Truly Devious by Maureen Johnson

truly devious.jpgTitle: Truly Devious

Author: Maureen Johnson

Genre: YA, Mystery


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.


Love it. Love it. LOVE IT.

This is not my first Maureen Johnson book, and though I was initially sad about not getting another Shades of London book in early 2018 I am certainly not disappointed.

Also, some people say don’t judge a book by a cover, and I try not to but can we take a moment to just stare at the eye catching cover of this book, because it is gorgeous. The blue drew me right in.

I also ended my supposed book buying ban for this book. I decided I needed it that much.

It was definitely worth the money and then some. In fact I bought it as an eBook and I have already decided I need a physical copy so I can lend it to everyone right this moment.

Ellingham Academy is attractive to someone who likes mysteries like me, and I guess Stevie. A supposedly solved but not really solved mystery? Is there anything better in this world.

(Well, I guess a world without killers would be good actually. Like…optimal…)

Stevie is a character I can identify with. While I appear normal, I am often the most awkward human in the room, with some really odd interests.

The other characters in this novel, without giving too much away are also interesting in their own right, each with their own uniquely defined personalities. And some of them don’t seem like they should be trusted.

This book has three mysteries within it, and one of them doesn’t even seem mysterious at first. I was wrong in thinking that, and was rather delightfully surprised. That’s nice for me because I can be downright cynical.

Maureen Johnson is masterful in how the plot of the past case, and the new are woven in, connected to each other and drawing the reader into the novel.

Definitely a good read. I cannot wait for the next book.