Truly Devious: Book summary and reviews of Truly Devious by Maureen Johnson

Truly Devious

A Truly Devious Series Mystery #1

by Maureen Johnson

Truly Devious by Maureen Johnson X
Truly Devious by Maureen Johnson
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  • Published in USA  Jan 2018
    432 pages
    Genre: Mysteries

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Book Summary

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.

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Reviews

Media Reviews

"Starred Review. Jumping between past and present, Johnson's novel is deliciously atmospheric, with a sprawling cast of complex suspects/potential victims, surprising twists, and a dash of romance." - Publishers Weekly

"Johnson deftly twists two mysteries together - Stevie's investigation is interspersed with case files and recollections from the Ellington kidnapping - and the result is a suspenseful, attention-grabbing mystery with no clear solution. The versatile Johnson is no stranger to suspense, and this twisty thriller will leave plenty of readers anxious for more." - Booklist

"The story raises more questions than answers, leaving readers hoping Johnson has another entry up her clever sleeves. A classic mystery that would make Dame Agatha proud." - Kirkus

"Stevie Bell is a dyed-in-the-wool true-crime buff…a smart, relatable, self-aware protagonist. Fans of puzzles, boarding school stories, and true crime will tear through this book and love every minute." - School Library Journal

"An intricately plotted, compulsively readable novel that explores not only fascinating crimes but also the mysteries of anxiety, the creative process, contemporary fame, and so much else." - John Green, author of The Fault in Our Stars and Turtles All the Way Down

"Maureen Johnson has a totally original mind, a passionate set of moral convictions, an extraordinary sense of bravery and ridiculousness, and she writes pretty sentences.  Read whatever she writes." - E. Lockhart, author of We Were Liars and Genuine Fraud

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Author Information

Maureen Johnson Author Biography

Photo: Heather Weston

Maureen Johnson was born in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.

She was always one of those reading and writing kids. After a little dalliance with astronomy and archeology, she declared her intention to become a writer at the age of eight or nine or so.

She attended an all-girl Catholic prep high school. She graduated from the University of Delaware where she was a writing major, but spent most of my time working on shows. After college, she became the literary manager of a wonderful (but now defunct) Philadelphia theater company. Soon after that, she moved to New York to study theatrical dramaturgy and writing at Columbia University School of the Arts.

Her first book, The Key to the Golden Firebird, came out in May 2004.

While on a writing fellowship in Edinburgh, Scotland, where ...

... Full Biography
Link to Maureen Johnson's Website

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