Truly Devious

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4.2 (2)
 
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Truly Devious
Age Range
13+
Release Date
January 16, 2018
ISBN
0062338056
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.

Editor reviews

2 reviews

interesting overall
Overall rating 
 
3.3
Plot 
 
4.0
Characters 
 
3.0
Writing Style 
 
3.0
TRULY DEVIOUS is a YA mystery that takes place at an enigmatic high school. Ellingham was founded by a very wealthy man in the 1930s as a place where gifted students could learn without regard for money. However, not long after opening, his wife and young daughter were kidnapped and ransom was requested. Even though he paid the ransom, they were not returned. The wife's body was eventually found, and the daughter was never located. Ellingham wanted to believe that she was still alive, and the school, to this day, is still technically hers.

The perpetrators were never caught, and a poetic letter cut from magazine letters identified the criminal as Truly, Devious. In the present, Stevie is a budding criminologist who dreams of going to the FBI. She really wants to solve the crime from 1936, and is thrilled when given admittance to this exclusive school.

Once there, she picks up tidbits of the past crime, but her time is primarily focused on the many eccentric students there- and a new crime committed in the present.

The book gets off to a relatively slow start, but the pace picks up fast around the middle point. The characters were often hard to connect with, but it was still fascinating to hear about these crimes and speculate over who may have done it. Another major pitfall is the lack of a conclusion and a huge cliffhanger at the end. These books are continuous, and in such a series, it is helpful for pace for one crime to be solved and another to appear in the next. I think this one would have been better served as such, also to make the pace faster. However, I did really get into the story by the end.

Overall, this was an intriguing book, and I am definitely interested in continuing to the next. While it was a bit slow at first, the pace does pick up quite a bit, and I would definitely like to learn more about the characters here in future books.
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Truly Devious Review
Overall rating 
 
5.0
Plot 
 
5.0
Characters 
 
5.0
Writing Style 
 
5.0
Feedback

I absolutely loved this book. It was a buddy read for me and it sounded interesting so I just went with it and fell in love. This book was so well written and just flowed. I found myself not wanting to stop because it was so interesting. I loved the way she went back and forth in time. While mostly in the present, Johnson gave us the view of the crime as it was taking place and after. This really gave insight to the Truly Devious crime. During the present, Stevie tries to investigate the cold case but finds herself mixed in with an active investigation. Everything blended so well and kept the pace moving. I also adore this school and want to go. It created such a great atmosphere for the book. That ending killed me. There were some things that I suspected but the one big twist at the end, I didn't see coming. I will be continuing the next book very shortly.

I absolutely adored the characters. Stevie was the main character and was fantastic (and not just because she was a Stephanie from Pittsburgh obsessed with true crime and made reference to the Monroeville mall and zombies). She was engaging and interesting. Her thoughts were always on point and I loved her intuition. The rest of the characters were so fitting also. Janelle, the inventor, was opposite of Stevie but the perfect match. Nate, the writer, was so disengaged but I loved it. His sense of humor was so dry but it really matched Stevie and their interactions were great. Hayes, the actor, was egotistical which you discover as soon as you meet him. Ellie, the artist was so eccentric but really broke the awkwardness when there was some. David, the jokester was something else. It was hard to pinpoint how I felt about him and first but now, I really hope things work out. For each of them was perfect for the story and I can’t wait to continue it.

Final Thoughts

Overall, Truly Devious by Maureen Johnson sucks you in and doesn’t let go. It’s engaging right from the beginning up to the very end. It was so hard to put down this book. The pacing was fantastically done going between the past and present. Along with a great story, there were amazing characters. Stevie was a fantastic main character and everyone else in the Minerva house was perfect for the story. I cannot wait to continue this series. I highly recommend this book if you are looking for a mystery story that connects the past and future in an intoxicating way.
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