Featured Review: The Box in the Woods (Maureen Johnson)
About This Book:
After solving the case of Truly Devious, Stevie Bell investigates her first mystery outside of Ellingham Academy in this spine-chilling and hilarious stand-alone mystery from New York Times bestselling author Maureen Johnson.
Amateur sleuth Stevie Bell needs a good murder. After catching a killer at her high school, she’s back at home for a normal (that means boring) summer.
But then she gets a message from the owner of Sunny Pines, formerly known as Camp Wonder Falls—the site of the notorious unsolved case, the Box in the Woods Murders. Back in 1978, four camp counselors were killed in the woods outside of the town of Barlow Corners, their bodies left in a gruesome display. The new owner offers Stevie an invitation: Come to the camp and help him work on a true crime podcast about the case.
Stevie agrees, as long as she can bring along her friends from Ellingham Academy. Nothing sounds better than a summer spent together, investigating old murders.
But something evil still lurks in Barlow Corners. When Stevie opens the lid on this long-dormant case, she gets much more than she bargained for. The Box in the Woods will make room for more victims. This time, Stevie may not make it out alive.
*Review Contributed by Olivia Farr, Staff Reviewer*
THE BOX IN THE WOODS is a fantastic continuation of Stevie's story with a whole new cold case to solve. Stevie has gained some renown for her solving of the Truly Devious case, and as she heads into summer, she receives an offer she cannot refuse. The founder of Box Box, a subscription box of boxes, has bought a summer camp where the infamous Box in the Woods murders took place in 1978. He is offering Stevie to come and work there, as well as any of her friends, to see if she can solve the case.
As Stevie arrives in the town and begins talking to the people who were around at the time of the murders, she feels like she has more questions than anything. Working a cold case that was so fumbled by the police at the time that no evidence remains is practically impossible. As Stevie speaks with the sister of one of the victims, she has a starting place for something, even if she is not sure what it will amount to, and she searches for that victim's diary of the time, which was never recovered.
As Stevie investigates and slowly begins to put the pieces together in her mind, she realizes that the case is complex, and the danger of uncovering the secrets long buried is ever-present.
What I loved: This was a really fantastic follow-up to the original trilogy. The new case was engaging, and I appreciated the early glimpses of what happened in the past in addition to the investigation from the present. This was one of the elements I really enjoyed from the trilogy, and I liked that we got it here as well. The series is one that could rival Nancy Drew and Hercule Poirot, and I am so glad it's continuing with new cases. I also really appreciated that this one is self-contained, so it won't be stretched across multiple books - but I still want more Stevie and fascinating cold cases!
Although the case moves slowly at first, each piece of information is really fascinating, and I never found the book boring. This is, in part, also because of the other things that are happening with Stevie and her friends. I love the bits of comedy around their lives mixed in that give it a great story outside of the mystery. The ending definitely picks up with some thriller/suspense elements that make the last parts of the book move super-fast!
Final verdict: Entertaining, thrilling, and mysterious, THE BOX IN THE WOODS is a fantastic new installment in Stevie's story with a new cold case, new settings, and the same compelling characters and writing. Highly recommend for fans of the earlier books, and I hope there will be even more books to come!
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