Review | Truly Devious by Maureen Johnson

Truly DeviousTruly, Devious by Maureen Johnson
Truly, Devious #1
Mystery Thriller YA
HarperCollins | January 16, 2018

About the 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. 

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.


Another wonderful surprise!

Truly, Devious was on that table at Barnes & Noble with all the buy one, get one half off books. I’ve never read anything by Maureen Johnson before, but she’s friends with John Green which automatically makes me think she’ll be a good writer. Plus, the book has a damn good synopsis.

I love a good mystery. I particularly like child/teen sleuth’s. My love of Mars Investigation, Nancy Drew case files, and Encyclopedia Brown left an impression, I guess. Truly, Devious was like Veronica Mars meets Nancy Drew, but with a brand new awkward and blunt main character. It even had a twist of romance. It was just a small one, but it was enough to make me excited for the next book.

Stevie was a smart heroine.

I loved not only her ability to deduce, but I loved the history of mystery writers and their connections to real history. I had no idea Sherlock Holmes was based on a real man, or that Agatha Christie solved a real life crime. It’s like, Castle come to life. Or, Murder She Wrote.

Then, there are also all the rest of the kids who go to Ellingham. I’m partial to Nick, but all of them were interesting and unique. I thought the cast was really well written, all of them. I thought their relationships were original. All in all, I felt like Truly, Devious was everything I expected it to be.

In fact, I’ve already purchased The Vanishing Stair, and I plan on starting it very soon.

Bring on all the teenage private eyes!

Series Reading Order

About Birdie

Don’t look for her in any bar, club, crazy raging party, or anywhere there may be a large gathering of strangers. She’s more likely to be found tucked into the corner of the couch watching one of her favorite shows, or preferably under a comforter with her current novel.

2 Responses

  1. Sonia @ The Book Wielding Harpie

    Oooooh, nice to know. It won YA book of the month for October in one of my goodreads groups, not to mention being available on KU (just the #1, but it’s a start) , so, I guess I know one of my October reads for sure.


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