Putting the pieces of a puzzle together releases a feeling so joyfully potent humans have been enjoying it for centuries. Our collective fascination with everything fitting together nicely and coming to a conclusion has sparked the “True Crime” television and podcast boom. It seems like every channel has its own version of “CSI” or a podcast dedicated to solving the shows mystery before it’s revealed by the writers. Of course, puzzles are considered to be one of the best way to flex those brain muscles and keep the wheels turning. In Maureen Johnson’s young adult novel “Truly Devious” we meet a young, slightly eccentric, true crime mega fan, Samantha “Stevie” Bell. For Stevie, this obsession is one she hopes to make a career out of.
Stevie hopes to one day take her problem solving talents along with her corkiness and apply for a job with the FBI. But first, there ’s High School. When our young investigator in training applies to attend a boarding school designed for creatives in the mountains of Vermont, she is putting herself right in the center of one of Americas greatest mystery’s. The Ellingham Academy is a private boarding school founded in the 1930’s by a wealthy businessman Albert Ellingham. The school was designed to foster the minds of young creatives and does so by making sure each students curriculum is not only chosen by them, but designed to push them to pursue their sometimes strange passions. Stevie, never one for really making friends is accepted into the school and is thrust into the center of the schools dark past and will try to solve its secrets ,if she can solve living with her new dorm mates. Shortly after the academy was built, the wife and
daughter of its founder vanished into thin air. All that was left was a mocking poem signed with the pseudonym “Truly Devious”. Fast forward back to present time where Stevie has acclimated and is recording a Youtube show with her internet famous dorm mate when the unthinkable happens. Another murder on the school grounds accompanied by another poem signed by none other then, “Truly Devious”. Could it be possible that our killer and kidnapper has returned to their old stomping grounds? And if so, why now? Stevie takes it upon herself to not only crack the decades old cold case involving the Ellingham family but to solve the newest case involving her friend! Be prepared for a cliff hanger with this one! But, do not worry there is a second book in the series and without dropping any spoilers, I highly encourage you to pick it up! Truly Devious is a light but extremely fun read that will keep you turning page after page following Stevie on her quest but also looking for your own answers with every turn!
CRITICS HAVE SAID:
“The story raises more questions than answers, leaving readers hoping Johnson has another entry up her clever sleeves. A classic mystery that would make Dame Agatha proud.” (Kirkus Reviews)
“Agatha Christie meets Riverdale in Maureen Johnson’s latest, which offers two gripping mysteries rolled into one. Truly Devious adds a modern flair to that delicious classic mystery novel-reading experience in which every passage seems rife with potential suspects and clues.” (Chicago Tribune)
“Stevie Bell is a dyed-in-the-wool true-crime buff…a smart, relatable, self-aware protagonist. Fans of puzzles, boarding school stories, and true crime will tear through this book and love every minute.” (School Library Journal)