Thursday, March 1, 2018

Review: Truly Devious by Maureen Johnson

Truly Devious (Truly Devious #1)Title:  Truly Devious 
Author:  Maureen Johnson 
Publisher: Katherine Tegen Books 
Publishing Date: January 16th, 2018
Pages: 420
Genre: YA Mystery
Series:  Truly Devious #1
Source: Audio
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.

I was so excited to see a new mystery series by Maureen Johnson. I feel whether she does contemporary mystery, thriller ghost story mystery or now this just classic murder mystery… she has the mystery genre figured out. I couldn’t wait to dive in. I loved it as I knew I would. It wasn’t exactly what I thought it would be but I did enjoy it immensely. I loved the setting, the characters, the mystery- there were two mysteries in this book. Bonus! I love me a good mystery.

Stevie bell is a true crime and mystery book fanatic. She watches the shows, reads the books, the case files, anything that screams mystery she dives into. She is excepted into an elite boarding school where a murder occurred a long time ago. Stevie believes the man they arrested was innocent and she feels the need to solve this crime. Once there she meets some kooky housemates and starts with our her schoolwork while trying to solve the school murders. After settling in, a death occurs. Everyone thinks it was an accident. Not Stevie and she fix on solving this one too.

First, let me say that Maureen Johnson has never disappointed me and this book was no exception. Like I mentioned earlier. I thought it would be a little different but I enjoyed it for what it was. It had a real classic murder mystery feel which I really appreciated. Not thrills, no chases, no creeps just murder and solving. Kind of like nancy drew and sherlock holmes cross. (just in the feel for me) a lot of digging and snooping and reading people to solve the mysteries.

Some of the aspect of the book I really enjoyed. – the characters. They were all nuts. Crazy and eccentric. I loved this. They were all so different and brought so much to the group. The dynamics of the group were just awesome. The conversations they had the things they did. I really enjoyed it. Stevie was a pretty awesome character. She was always snooping and getting in trouble. She didn’t listen, she was always breaking rules… you know rules were for breaking when there were secrets to be found. She was on a mission. She was smart and always thinking. I enjoyed her thought process and her look on things. She was for sure an individual who just didn’t care what others thought about her.

The mystery was really good. I really wasn’t in a hurry to find out what happened as much as I just enjoyed watching it all unfold. I felt no need to try and figure it out. I was just gonna enjoy the ride. The story actually consists of two mysteries. Once if from when the school opened in the 1930s and we get little snippets here and there on what happened and see it as it happened. There as an arrest and a confession but Stevie believes they arrested the wrong man and is hell-bent on finding the real mastermind behind the crime. The other mystery comes halfway through when a death happens on campus. A student is found dead and at first, they think it was an accident until Stevie… being curious as she is… unravels some clues to show nope it was not an accident.

The only thing I didn’t like about this book which took my rating from 5 to a 4 was the ending. It really had no resolution and kind left it all up in the air. I mean everything. All we know in the end is Stevie is right about certain facts but still, nothing is solved.

When I say it leaves us hanging…. Completely hanging. I will be picking up the next book and would have even without the cliffhanger but this type of cliffhanger just bothers me a bit. I need some kind of resolution and I got none. So if cliffhangers bother you make sure to wait until the next book is out to read this one. This one is good though and if you like mysteries and kooky characters this book is a winner. It was for

Loved it adored it can’t wait for more

Maureen Johnson
Maureen knew from an early age she wanted to be a writer. She went to high school at an all-girls' Catholic school and graduated from University of Delaware with a degree in writing. She now lives and writes in New York City.
Many of the adventures Maureen's characters face in her books are based on real-life stories. Maureen has traveled all over Europe, and is a Secret Sister to vlog brothers Hank and John Green.


  1. I only tried a book by the author a few week ago and I liked it so I confess that I'm curious to try more like this one

  2. OOh nice! I still need to read this one though I did buy it. But I am hearing that the mystery remains unsolved so I am starting to think this might be one I need to start once the series is finished! Cliffhangers are evil and I have been trying so hard lately to avoid them! I'm all over the place in my reading this year it seems as I keep trying to pick a series to get caught up in and then suddenly a review book comes in or a new release that I was dying for! Lol! Glad to hear that this one was a fun read! Great review!


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