- Reading level: 14+ years
- Paperback: 448 pages
- Publisher: Katherine Tegen Books; Reprint edition (4 December 2018)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 0062338064
- ISBN-13: 978-0062338068
- Product Dimensions: 13.5 x 2.6 x 20.3 cm
- Customer Reviews:
- Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #3,804 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
Truly Devious: A Mystery Paperback – Import, 4 Dec 2018
Preloaded Digital Audio Player, Unabridged, Import
“The Agatha Christie-like ecosystem pairs with lacerating contemporary wit, and alternating past and present scenes makes for a multilayered, modern detective story.” (New York Times Book 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. As in her Shades of London books, Johnson remains a master at combining jittery tension with sharp, laugh-out-loud observations.” (Publishers Weekly (starred review))
“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 Reviews)
“Agatha Christie meets Riverdale in Maureen Johnson’s latest, which offers two gripping mysteries rolled into one. Truly Devious adds a modern flair to that delicious classic mystery novel-reading experience in which every passage seems rife with potential suspects and clues.” (Chicago Tribune)
“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)
“Told in alternating chapters, Johnson’s finely tuned plot effectively employs classical mystery tropes while maintaining a thoroughly modern sensibility. Stevie’s quirky, ragtag bunch of new friends crosses sexuality and class lines, providing teen readers with a wealth of characters to connect with.” (Horn Book Magazine)
“Remember the first time reading Harry Potter and knowing it was something special? There’s that same sense of magic in the introduction of teen Sherlock-in-training Stevie Bell. Parallel mysteries unfold with cleverly written dialogue, page-turning brilliance and a young sleuth just as captivating as Hercule Poirot.” (USA Today (four stars))
“Johnson quickly sets the game afoot, skillfully introducing a Clue-like set of characters, laying out various motives, and hinting at long held secrets. There’s a delicious slow-burn element to the locked-room mystery in Stevie’s present, while the chapters on the kidnappings read like a true crime novel.” (Bulletin of the Center for Children’s Books)
“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)
From the Back Cover
Ellingham Academy is a famous private school in Vermont, founded by an early twentieth century tycoon for the best and brightest students around. When Ellingham’s wife and daughter were kidnapped, the only clue was a mocking riddle listing methods of murder, signed with the frightening pseudonym “Truly, Devious.” Their disappearance became one of the great unsolved crimes in history.
Many years later, true-crime aficionado Stevie Bell is set to begin her first year at the academy, and she is determined to solve this cold case. That is, she will solve it 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 Truly Devious makes a surprise return. The past has crawled out of its grave, and someone has gotten away with murder.
Truly Devious is the first novel in a murder-mystery trilogy by New York Times bestselling author Maureen Johnson.
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This book is a YA mystery, I wouldn't really call it a mystery thriller, but I guess you could kind of put in that category. This is actually first book in the series.
Story takes place in two different timelines. I absolutely loved this story, it was super mysterious.
It was really complex and it also wasn't super predictable, I didn't guess what was gonna happen at the end and there are still many more questions.
Can't wait for the rest of the series. I'm super invested and just need more right now.
The story runs parallel in two eras, the 1930’s and present era at the Ellingham Academy founded by an ultra-rich businessman – Albert Ellingham for the special and most talented students. He has a unique affinity towards riddle and games, so much so that he has made it compulsory for all students to participate in games such as Monopoly. Since he is one of the most well-known tycoons of the country he is accustomed to regular life threats. In the month of April 1936, one peculiar threat comes along in the form of mocking riddle listing down methods of murder, signed with a pseudonym – Truly Devious. A week later, Albert’s wife Iris & daughter Alice gets kidnapped. Despite paying demanded ransom, kidnappers do not release his family. Their disappearance becomes one of the greatest unsolved crime. Many years later, Sherlock fan & crime aficionado Stevie Bell gets admission at the Ellingham Academy. She has already researched the case and she is determined to solve this mystery. At the academy, she meets five friends with a unique background such as a YouTube star, a novelist, an artist etc. During her first year at the academy she makes an attempt to solve the murder, however, the past crawls out and results into the death of one of her housemate. Was it an accident? Was it a murder? Does eighty-year-old past of Ellingham academy come back to haunt current students? Does Stevie get close to solving the case? These answers and much more is revealed by Maureen in her wonderfully crafted novel Truly Devious.
What I admire about Maureen’s writing style is her impeccable ability to parallelly run stories in both eras, as an author it is easy to lose track of one of the plot while shifting focus, but Maureen makes sure that a reader remains glued to her story. There are patches in the book, where because of a number of the side-characters the story loses its pace. However, her character development of the central character – Stevie brings stability to the plot. The author has effortlessly set up Vermont of the early twentieth century. Truly Devious is a delightful page-turner for all murder mystery lovers. Maureen has ended her first novel of the trilogy on a cliffhanger leaving (or rather forcing) readers to go on her second one without a shadow of a doubt. Let’s see what is in store with The Vanishing Stairs the second part of the trilogy.
As for the quality: Paper quality for the paperback edition is very bad, kind of like cheap copies of novels selling on streets. Very thin paper and the cover also feels cheap, every scratch peels out the colour from the cover.
Top international reviews
Ellingham Academy is a famous school for gifted people in the mountains of Vermont. It was founded by the very rich Albert Ellingham in the 1930s, who wanted to make a wonderful place full of riddles, twisting pathways and gardens. Not long after he opened the school, his wife and daughter were kidnapped in what become one of the greatest unsolved crimes of American history. The only real clue was a riddle listing various methods of murder, signed with the frightening pseudonym "Truly, Devious". Eighty years later, Stevie Bell is set to begin her first year at the academy. She is obsessed with true-crime and wants to be the one to solve the mystery. However, not long after she arrives, strange things begin to happen, and Truly Devious makes a surprise return...
As soon as I saw the synopsis for this book I had to pick it up. It sounded so good. And it was, it really was. It did, however, take me about three weeks to read it since I had no time to do anything else other than uni work, so I think this took a bit of my enjoyment away. I struggled to keep up with the characters, and to be honest I probably should have left it and then picked it up once I knew I had time so I could read it all at once. The only thing that did really ruin it for me was the ending; it ended so abruptly and I'm so pissed off at how long I'm going to have to wait for the next book. What a cliffhanger. I'm also realllllllllllly annoyed that we never find out who it was that Dottie met in the observatory in the first chapter - maybe in book two or three we will.
I did really like all of the characters even if they seemed a bit one-dimensional. This may have just been because I didn't have the right time to dive into the story and get to know them really well, though. There were a lot of them to keep track of. Stevie was a strong lead and I really liked her, but she did seem too nosy for her own good. All the other students were really likeable also; I don't think there were any I disliked. Her mum and dad were really irritating though, but I thought they were written well - no wonder Stevie wanted to spend some time away from them. There was a tiny bit of romance in the book but it wasn't a huge part of the story.
The setting was really interesting and I enjoyed reading about Ellingham Academy. I think my favourite parts of the book were the parts from when the kidnappings happened in 1936. It was really interesting, and even though I knew they would never catch who did it I kept expecting them to. They seemed to get so close time and time again, yet they never did. When Stevie did finally discover who did it, I was a bit disappointed. I didn't see it coming - which is a good thing! - but maybe I just wanted it to be someone else. Saying that though, the way the book ended, I wouldn't be surprised if she was wrong and it wasn't who she thought it to be all along. The nice plot twist at the end was done really well - I didn't see this coming either - and it did really shock. I just don't see what the point in it is yet, maybe I'll see in later books. I really loved the writing style. It was the kind of book that you could easily pick up and just get lost in, even though I didn't have the time to. I did manage to get lost in the last half which I read over the course of a day when I did find time.
I might give this a reread soon in the hope I can give it a higher rating. I feel like it deserves more than the four stars I'm giving it but I don't think it's quite five stars. The cliffhanger is really annoying, as good as it was. If I had book two right now I definitely would not mind as much, but I really do not want to wait another year or so.
The setting of this novel was just fantastic. Ellingham Academy was a wonderful place for a mystery to be set with its remote location, labyrinth layout full of hidden passageways and vast array of differently gifted students. To be honest I think diving into this world would be interesting whatever the circumstances – I’d loved to have seen one of the Ellingham’s unusual parties –and I can’t wait to explore the school further (hopefully) in book two.
The characters, like the setting, were fascinating to learn about and Stevie’s point of view was spot on for this mysterious novel. Unlike the characters in most YA mysteries that I’ve read Stevie is interested in solving crimes from the start simply because she loves learning about such things. Her entire reason for getting into the Ellingham Academy is to try and solve its infamous mystery and her love of all things crime related shines through time and time again throughout the story. I love that she’s different to your typical YA character and I can’t wait to see some more of her. The supporting characters were equally fascinating and varied from one another greatly. David is one character who I’m particularly looking forward to learning more about in book two as he was definitely a difficult individual to figure out.
As for the story it was utterly gripping and written in a wonderfully compelling manner. I adored both the scenes from the past and the story that unwound in the present. The scenes that told the tales of the past varied from different points of view, interviews and articles; all of which were well written and left me eternally eager for the next snippet of history. Likewise the present storyline was completely gripping and jam-packed with lots of twists and turns. I also feel that the Truly Devious letters deserve a special mention for being so fantastic; they were well written, taunting and oddly fit into the strange environment of Ellingham.
All in all I definitely recommend this book to anybody whose taken the time to read this review. Truly Devious was utterly addictive and I truly can’t wait to get my hands on book two.
My problem is the value. Why are these books around £7 = $14 on a kindle read? Maybe Agatha Christie wrote a book about it that I never found.
Ironic that the protagonist of the story is a girl without money.
Well I would like to read more by the author, but I just can't afford it.
So just do not bother with this.
Two murders with decades between them and a girl who loves detectives... Match made in heaven
Excellent. Didn’t realise there would be a sequel. I’m both mad and excited about this.
I require answers
That made me retract stars in my rating.
The plot as such is well devised. There was a kidnapping and murder at Ellinghaus School in the 1930ies and although someone was convicted, there are doubts about him being the true perpetrator. The events surrounding said crime are told piecemeal while telling about Stevie, a new pupil of Ellinghaus School at the present. She is really good at deduction and Sherlock, Poirot and Ms. Marple are her heroes. She wants to become an agent one day and is set on solving the Ellinghaus cold case. But the very recent death of another student has her investigate his death as well. I wish I could tell you anything else, but this was when the story was over.
I do like Stevie most of the time, although none of the characters in this book feel real. They are all too... everything. Like someone is really trying to make them all remarkable and strange. That does only work some of the time. At others you just think that everything is way over the top.
It’s especially the relationships that are one thing now and something else entirely (or non existent) at other times. Same goes for Stevie‘s emotions. One moment she obsesses about how her new friend could prefer other people and then she isn’t interested in preventing the deterioration of said friendship.
I‘m interested in how things turn out and who did it and why, but I sure hope there’s improvement concerning the character development and actually resolved themes.
I love that this series moves slowly, there’s no rush to reveal all from the beginning. Information unfolds and clues appear, slowly and frustratingly - as they might in real life. The author plays fair, in the best Agatha Christie fashion, dropping clues for readers to follow if they can.
As the past and the present intertwine, Stevie, David, Janelle and Nate navigate the start of adulthood with all its complications.
I found the very woke “they” pronoun for Vi irritating, but it’s a minor irritation.
This is the best kind of YA writing, the sort which treats its readers with respect.
I’m looking forward to the third book.
A murdur mystery, a interesting cast of characters with very different personalities and a great writing.
A amazing book. I’ve read this book so fast. Is so incredibly fast paced with a very involving story.
Definitely recommend for anyone who enjoys a fast murder mystery read.