Truly Devious

Truly Devious

Book - 2018 | First edition
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When Stevie Bell, an amateur detective, begins her first year at a famous private school in Vermont, she sets a plan to solve the cold case involving the kidnapping of the founder's wife and daughter shortly after the school opened.
Ellingham Academy was founded by Albert Ellingham, who wanted to make a wonderful place full of riddles, twisting pathways, and gardens. 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." Years later, Stevie Bell is set to begin her first year at Ellingham Academy, and she has an ambitious plan to solve this cold case. But the past has crawled out of its grave: Truly Devious makes a surprise return, and death revisits Ellingham Academy.-- Adapted from dust jacket.
Publisher: New York, NY : Katherine Tegen Books, an imprint of HarperCollinsPublishers, [2018]
Edition: First edition
Copyright Date: ©2018
ISBN: 9780062338051
Call Number: y JOHNSON 2018
Characteristics: 420 pages : map ; 22 cm


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Oct 19, 2020

If I were to rate this book out of 10, I would rate it 8.5/10. This book was a fun read, but I will say that it took me a while to get into it. Also, be aware that this book is the first of a trilogy so it does end on a bit of a cliffhanger.

Sep 28, 2020

Stevie Bell is accepted to Ellingham Academy, the setting of one of the most famous kidnapping/murder cases in history, and Stevie, who has been obsessed with the case for years, is determined to solve it. The case began in 1936, less than a year after the school's opening, when the wife and daughter of founder Albert Ellingham are kidnapped. His wife and another student are found dead, but his daughter, Alice is never found. Anton Vorachek is arrested and found guilty, but his guilt has always been in doubt because of his lack of English language skills, which would have made it impossible for him to have written the mysterious letter that arrived at the school that was signed "Truly Devious." Because Ellingham only accepts students who are academically gifted or have some unique ability, Stevie hopes that she can live up to expectations, while attempting to solve the case. Stevie agrees to work on an internet film project about the case with several of the students until one of them turns up dead. In addition to the original mystery, Stevie now has another case to solve.
Truly Devious alternates chapters describing the 1936 mystery as well as Stevie's story as she tries to understand her parents, her classmates, and a budding romance. The clues for both mysteries are expertly woven into this story of quirky teenagers who are trying to navigate the world of high school. Authentic dialogue, believable situations, and a twist at the end add depth to this excellent story. Overall, an exceptional young adult coming of age mystery.

Grace Cunningham
Sep 17, 2020

I wasn’t really in love with this book. I like that it mixes past events with current events, the author is very good at writing mystery settings. But I found myself getting bored due to the slow progression of the book. Nothing really suspenseful happened until way later in the book. The ending left me with more questions than answers, and I wasn’t yearning to read the sequel.

pacl_teens Sep 10, 2020

Truly Devious by Maureen Johnson is an amazing young adult mystery novel. It follows a young girl, named Stevie Bell, who starts to attend the famous private school, Ellingham Academy. When the academy had originally opened, Ellingham's wife and daughter were kidnapped and the only clue that was left behind was a riddle signed Truly Devious. Stevie came to this academy to solve the case and won’t let anything stop her from getting the answers. But what will happen when murder strikes the academy by surprise? Will Stevie be able to find out who is behind or will she be too late?

This book has so many great aspects about it. First of all, the character diversity in this book was amazing! I feel like everyone will have a character that they will be able to relate to as they read this book. Secondly, it was also interesting to see how this book switched between two time periods: the present day and during the kidnapping. One thing I did not enjoy about this book as much is that Stevie did not solve the case. Instead of solving the case in this book, the author kept giving Stevie more problems that drove away from the main plot, which were not as interesting. This book also ends on a cliffhanger, which is understandable because this will intrigue readers to read the second book.

In short, this book is very easy to read and an interesting mystery book. If you do decide to pick up this book I also recommend grabbing the second one in the series because the cliffhanger will have you at the edge of your seat! -Eunchae, Grade 10

Sep 01, 2020

One of the best YA books that I have read thus far. A total heart stopping page turner. The setting, the characters and the mystery was everything that I could have hoped for. Can't wait to read the next book.

Aug 01, 2020

Jul 18, 2020

Truly Devious by Maureen Johnson is the first story in a modern murder-mystery trilogy. The story follows a young aspiring detective, one of the world’s greatest unsolved murder cases and her companions she makes along the way. Stevie Bell is accepted into Ellington Academy, a school known for cultivating the best students around. That’s not the only thing it’s known for though. The kidnapping of the founder’s wife and daughter became one of the most notorious unsolved murders in history and Stevie is determined to solve the case herself. Throughout the story, the reader will fall in love with Stevie’s insatiable curiosity and drive to solve the task in front of her. Many of the side characters are dragged back into the case alongside Stevie, which becomes dangerous as the mysterious kidnapper from the original unsolved case returns abruptly. Between watching Stevie attempt to crack the old unsolved case and deal with the sudden return of the kidnapper, there’s no lack of mystery to be solved. However, the romance within the story feels rushed and somewhat off-putting as it happens in between her investigations. Overall, Truly Devious is a murder-mystery worth picking up, along with its two sequels.

This is definitely a well written mystery book. It had so many twist and turn that I didn’t predict at all. I didn’t expect to see the author switching from past to present. However, in the flashbacks the author provides very helpful details that help to both introduce and to understanding the crime. I look forward to reading the other books in the series.

Okay, wow. This one was so much fun. I listened to this as an audiobook and sometimes that distances me from whatever I choose to listen to; I'm usually better able to put audiobooks down and kind of forget about them before I dive into them again on my next drive.

But that was so not the case with this one.

Truly Devious follows Stevie, a new student at the infamous Ellingham Academy, where two people were abducted in the 1930's. Wife and daughter of Albert Ellingham were taken by someone calling themselves "Truly Devious" in a ransom letter, and neither were returned - except for Iris, the wife, whose body is found. Alice was never returned, and Stevie, almost a century later, is a true crime buff, ready to tackle the cold case and solve the murder, because the man who confessed to the crime couldn't have done it. But things get complicated when Stevie finds herself embroiled in a new mystery, one with very real consequences for her and her new friends at school.

I don't read a lot of mysteries, because I so rarely find that I enjoy them. Yes, there's spooky things and that's usually my M.O., but I like guessing what's going to happen, and being so involved in "ooh that's suspicious" and formulating theories sometimes takes away from the experience of the novel itself for me, because I can't lose myself completely in it. But that was decidedly not the case with this book for a number of reasons.

First of all, I absolutely adored Stevie. Her interest in true crime feels so organic and real in the way that she investigates things, and just in the way she conducts herself through the book. She deals with panic attacks and anxiety and this was handled in such a sensitive, wonderful, real way as well. She's never been kissed, never had much interest in boys, and her discovering her sexuality is also written in such an age-appropriate way that you so rarely see in YA. I loved it.

The surrounding cast of characters also really helped me to lose myself in this book. David and Nate (oh, Nate, how I empathize with you and your writerly struggles and your contempt for your craft and humanity in general) and Janelle and Ellie and Hayes - literally every single other student was so fleshed out and interesting. THIS is how you create a cast. And the adults just rounded things out so well and even though I wanted to be suspicious of everyone, I just couldn't be because when I was reading everyone just shone through as so authentic and incapable of murder. Though obviously someone is and I have many theories now that it's over. *shifty eyes*

Finally, the setting of Ellingham Academy is absolutely perfect. The fact that Stevie was off to a school in the middle of the Vermont mountains immediately piqued my interest from the very first page, and the school itself did not disappoint. It's historical and spooky and atmospheric and wonderful without being overpowering or drawing too much attention to itself. It's the perfect place for these murdery things to occur, and it's so inextricably wound up in the story that I can't imagine it occurring anywhere else.

One note is that the mysteries that drive the story aren't solved in this first book. I didn't know this going in, but I certainly didn't find myself disappointed. If anything, I'm just more invested, more eager to get my hands on the next instalment to see where the heck this story is going and how many of my theories are anywhere close to right.

With a diverse assortment of wonderful characters, a mystery to lose yourself in, and a protagonist who's so very raw and real, this is a book that you won't be able to put down.

Mar 11, 2020

1 of the best books ever wrighten

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Jul 18, 2020

tedwards37 thinks this title is suitable for 13 years and over


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Grace Cunningham
Sep 17, 2020

Other: Make out scenes, lite cussing, eerie setting


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