Book Reviews · Fiction · Mystery · Young Adult

Truly Devious by Maureen Johnson

My preamble for this review will be short because I just want to share the dedication page of this book:
“For anyone who has ever dreamed
of finding a body in the library”

Happy reading 🙂


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.

My thoughts

This book made me giddy. I’m talking, from the moment that I read the ransom note, I was squealing like a little kid with excitement because it was just So. Dang. Fun! It’s a YA mystery novel, so it’s not quite as dark, complex, or thought-provoking as some of my reads, but I feel like I needed a lighter murder in my life. Having it take place in a famous, remote private school? Always count me in for that one.

Schools may be famous for many things: academics, graduates, sports teams.
They are not supposed to be famous for murders”

Told in alternating timelines, you basically get 2 mysteries for the price of one, and I’m anxious to see the two come together. I also enjoyed the references to Agatha Christie and Sherlock Holmes

My main complaint is the fact that it ends on a cliffhanger (which I absolutely hate when I don’t have the next book in hand to begin immediately). To be honest, it’s kind of my own fault that I fell into this trap because I knew it had a cliffhanger, but I misread the release date and thought that I would finish at the same time that the book was released. Well, we know what happens when you assume…. you’re stuck waiting almost a month to find out what happens next. Womp, womp.

Lucky for you, the next one is out soon, so you won’t experience my fate! Have you read this one? Get yours today and let me know your thoughts!

Truly Devious
Eeerrr, I mean…

One thought on “Truly Devious by Maureen Johnson

Leave a Reply