29589074.jpgTruly Devious by Maureen Johnson

Published January 16, 2017

Hardcover, 432 pages


(Thanks to Edelweiss & Katherine Tegen Books, I received an eARC)



New York Times bestselling author Maureen Johnson weaves a delicate tale of murder and mystery in the first book of a striking new series, perfect for fans of Agatha Christie and E. Lockhart.

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.



This is the first full book I’ve read by Maureen Johnson, the only other being a short story in a popular anthology. I requested this one because I am a sucker for books that take place at boarding schools. The book had a very descriptive atmosphere, I felt like I could see the school right in front of me.I really enjoyed that the story traveled back and forth in time between the original mystery and the one going on in present day. The way it was done was smooth and had wonderful timing. The description of the library is a book lovers dream and had me drooling. The whole school just seemed like a beautiful dream.

Stevie was an awesome main character, I liked her right from the beginning. She was such a curious character that had great deductive reasoning skills. She was funny and blunt and such a real character to me. I really connected with Stevie because I too have anxiety that causes severe panic attacks.

Overall I highly enjoyed every aspect of this book. It kept me on my toes trying to figure out what was going to happen next. I feel like people who enjoy mystery books or ones that take place in boarding schools will love it. I also feel like this would be a great book for fans of E. Lockhart.



  1. I don’t know how I feel about this being a trilogy. Most mystery series genre books do not go over an entire trilogy to reveal murderers and such. Some do have threads that linger throughout. For example, many have an antagonist that reappears throughout the series that is after the main character (think Red John in the TV show “The Mentalist”). But, the book has a main mystery always that is solved within the one book. I may give this a chance, but it would have to push through my preconceived notions of what a mystery book is supposed to do within one book. Now, of course, this is just going off the synopsis and review here.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I was really weary of this being a trilogy at first but honestly if this book is any indication of how the rest of the trilogy will go I’m kind of happy about it… though it definitely could have been one book if that helps 😉

      Liked by 1 person

  2. I’m the same when it comes to boarding school settings! I don’t even need to know what the book is about I’m sold! I really want to read this one. ☺️ I wonder how it’s gonna work as a trilogy 🤔

    Liked by 1 person

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