Review: Truly Devious by Maureen Johnson

Book cover for Truly Devious by Maureen Johnson.

 

Title: Truly Devious (Truly Devious #1)
Author: Maureen Johnson
Publisher: HarperCollins
Publication Date: January 16, 2018
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Summary (from Goodreads): Author Maureen Johnson weaves a tale of murder and mystery in the first book of a new series. 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.

Goodreads | Amazon

Review

Going intoΒ Truly Devious, my expectations were pretty high, since it seemed like exactly my kind of book: boarding school thriller. I don’t have much experience with Maureen Johnson’s books, but after reading this one, I will definitely have to check them out. This book contains two connected mysteries and many peculiar characters. I enjoyed the use of flashbacks, which is not a common occurrence, and the shocking plot twists. The ending bothered me, but I am all the more excited for the next instalment.

This book has a very intriguing concept. It tells the story of an unsolved kidnapping that occurred in 1936, and a girl from today’s society who is determined to solve it. However, the killer has made a comeback, and Stevie is caught right in the middle of it. Part of the story is told through flashbacks and interviews, which really piqued my interest. I also really enjoyed the setting of this book, since I am such a sucker for boarding school books, and a school for prodigies is so amusing to read about. The book is filled with non-stop action and countless plot twists, making for a gripping thriller.

 

There is a great variety of characters inΒ Truly Devious. Of course, I liked Stevie because she is intelligent and quirky, but there are also plenty of notable side characters. Each of Stevie’s housemates have different skills, and their interactions are very enjoyable to read. I think I liked Janelle the most, since she is a female inventor. However, with so many characters (in both 1936 and the present), I found it hard to keep track of them all, and not all of them are that developed.

 

One of the most interesting aspects about this book is the fact that it is like two mysteries in one. The story switches between 1936 and present date with two connected crimes. Normally, I am not a fan of flashbacks, but they actually worked well in this case. The past complements the present very well, and it is so interesting seeing how the two connect.

 

Truly Devious is a whirlwind of a thriller with a quirky cast of characters. I loved the idea of a dual mystery and the plot twists associated with it. I would definitely recommend this to fans of the thriller genre, as this is a tense beginning to a new series.

 

Book Quotes

 

There is nothing so serious as a game.

 

When you have enough power and money, you can dictate the meanings of words.

 

About the Author

 

Image of Maureen Johnson.

 

Maureen knew from an early age she wanted to be a writer. She went to high school at an all-girls’ Catholic school and graduated from University of Delaware with a degree in writing. She now lives and writes in New York City.

 

Many of the adventures Maureen’s characters face in her books are based on real-life stories. Maureen has traveled all over Europe, and is a Secret Sister to vlog brothers Hank and John Green.

13 thoughts on “Review: Truly Devious by Maureen Johnson

  1. Stephanie - Bookfever says:

    Maureen Johnson is one of those authors that I haven’t read any books by but I do love her personality on social media and stuff so definitely wanna read one of her books sometime. Probably this one! I really, really love that it switches between 1936 and present date. Sounds like something for me. πŸ˜€
    Stephanie – Bookfever recently posted…Review: The Battle of Thermopylae: 300 Spartans and the Forgotten Citizen-Soldiers Who Fought with Them by in60LearningMy Profile

  2. Cynthia R says:

    Sounds like an interesting book with a neat plot and characters. I like the back and forth between teh two mysteries.

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