Title: Truly Devious
Author: Maureen Johnson
Author Maureen Johnson weaves a tale of murder and mystery in the first book of a new series.
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.
Truly Devious is a new YA murder mystery, the first in an upcoming trilogy (I think!) and I am so very glad that I picked it up. After having read the book, I definitely think that I will continue with this series.
Going into this book I never knew it if a part of a series so I expected it to be precise in its own way and that is why I had the thought that perhaps the author has tried to pull the events a bit, and why the pacing felt a bit slow in the beginning and major plot points happened only after about halfway through the book.
Stevie as a character was well made and I am afraid that is something I can only say for her. Nate does require a bit more depth and I hope the author will bring him into the picture more in the sequels. David on the other hand, the love interest (?) was considerably well made. A refreshing change is that this book is not very romance heavy and has only explored a little bit of attraction so far. Although romance, in the long run will not be completely unwelcome.
The world building is truly fascinating. I loved reading about this new-age school with its eclectic students. The brilliance of these students is truly worth noticing. The themes of murder, mystery, thriller as well as the generic ones of familial as well as friendly bonding, personal space and such are well explored in the story.
The dual timeline in the novel is really enjoyable to read. The 1936 plotline read great and it felt like to mysteriesunveiling at the same time. It added a lot of depth to the narrative as a whole and while I was at the edge of my seat wondering who the murderer was, I was left crazy and mad when I ended the book and realized that there is to be a sequel. There is a game-like feel to the entire novel and I read it in really less time when you consider the fact that my semester is almost ending and I am running pell-mell to keep up during these last few days.
I am very excited for the next book and it is bound to be one of my most anticipated books of 2019!
I quite enjoyed this book and I rate it a 4.5/5 stars.
About the reviewer
Nayanika Saikia, is one of the foremost book reviewers from the North-east and Assam, and is also an admin for the official India bookstagram page on Instagram. She publishes her own reviews and recommendations for poetry, fiction, non-fiction etc. on her bookstagram account @pretty_little_bibliophile which won the NorthEast Creator Awards 2018, as well as in daily newspapers, online magazines etc. She can be contacted at email@example.com .