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Truly Devious
Cover of Truly Devious
Truly Devious
A Mystery
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Publishers Weekly Best Books of 2018 * Junior Library Guild Selection * 2019 YALSA Best Fiction for Young Adults Nomination * 2019 ALA's Best Fiction for Young Adults Nomination * Chicago Public...
Publishers Weekly Best Books of 2018 * Junior Library Guild Selection * 2019 YALSA Best Fiction for Young Adults Nomination * 2019 ALA's Best Fiction for Young Adults Nomination * Chicago Public...
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  • Publishers Weekly Best Books of 2018 * Junior Library Guild Selection * 2019 YALSA Best Fiction for Young Adults Nomination * 2019 ALA's Best Fiction for Young Adults Nomination * Chicago Public Library Best of the Best Books 2018 * Goodreads Choice Award Nominee for Young Adult Fiction 2018

    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.

About the Author-

  • Maureen Johnson is the bestselling author of several novels, including 13 Little Blue Envelopes, the Truly Devious series, the Suite Scarlett series, and the Shades of London series. She has also written collaborative works such as Let It Snow with John Green and Lauren Myracle and The Bane Chronicles with Cassandra Clare and Sarah Rees Brennan. Maureen lives in New York and online on Twitter @maureenjohnson or at www.maureenjohnsonbooks.com.

Reviews-

  • School Library Journal

    October 1, 2017

    Gr 8 Up-Stevie Bell is a dyed-in-the-wool true-crime buff. And what better place to deepen her understanding than at Ellingham Academy, the Vermont private school founded in the 1930s by wealthy eccentric Albert Ellingham? Partly because the custom courses of study are tailored to students' passion-writing, engineering, film, math-but also because the school was the scene of a notorious crime not long after it opened: Albert Ellingham's wife and daughter were kidnapped, ostensibly for ransom, and a student was killed. His wife's body was found eventually, but his daughter, Alice, never was. Stevie plans to solve the case. But when a classmate is killed, everything changes. There is a lot to love here. Stevie is a smart, relatable, self-aware protagonist. The cast is racially diverse and includes teens on various parts of the gender, sexuality, and neurotypical spectrums. The setting is fully realized, and the adults are as well characterized as the students. Johnson excellently sets up both mysteries as well as Ellingham's love of puzzles, riddles, and secret passageways, but very little is resolved at the end of this series launch. VERDICT Fans of puzzles, boarding school stories, and true crime will tear through this book and love every minute, but those who are easily frustrated by cliff-hangers may want to wait until more books in the series are available.-Stephanie Klose, Library Journal

    Copyright 2017 School Library Journal, LLC Used with permission.

  • Kirkus

    October 15, 2017
    Students attend the prestigious Ellingham Academy for myriad reasons, but all are geniuses, here to study that about which they're most passionate. Stephanie "Stevie" Bell studies crime, and there's no better place to do this than where, in 1936, one of the nation's most notorious crimes occurred. The wife and daughter of millionaire and school founder Albert Ellingham went missing. The only clue was a malicious, Dorothy Parker-style rhyme signed "Truly, Devious." Although an innocent man was convicted of the kidnappings and the murder of Mrs. Ellingham (their daughter was never found), the crime was never truly solved. Stevie is obsessed with getting to the bottom of this decades-old case, and the crimes are made all the more real when one of her housemates is murdered and someone who calls themselves "Truly Devious" peremptorily claims responsibility. There's a comfortable and realistic diversity among the characters. Stevie's STEM genius friend Janelle is a "girl of color" and a lesbian. A white female teacher has a shaved head and unshaven legs, and minor characters include a Muslim girl and an (assumed-white) girl in a wheelchair. Stevie herself is white and struggles with depression and anxiety, illnesses that have no easy answers but which are represented here with truth and compassion. 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. (Mystery. 14-18)

    COPYRIGHT(2017) Kirkus Reviews, ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.

  • Publisher's Weekly

    Starred review from October 23, 2017
    Johnson kicks off a riveting mystery series set at the Ellingham Academy, a prestigious school built on a Vermont mountain by industrialist tycoon Albert Ellingham. His goal was to make learning a game—and free—for the exceptional students accepted to the school. But soon after it opened in 1936, Ellingham received a mysterious threat written in rhyme (and signed “Truly, Devious”), Ellingham’s wife and daughter were kidnapped, and a student was killed. In the present, 16-year-old Stevie Bell is obsessed with true crime (and often beset by panic attacks), and she feels a bit like a fraud at Ellingham. With Holmesian powers of observation, she hopes to solve the Ellingham case, but the school’s deadly past resurfaces when a student from her dorm is killed. 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. Ages 14–up. Agent: Kate Schafer Testerman, KT Literary.

  • New York Times Book Review "The Agatha Christie-like ecosystem pairs with lacerating contemporary wit, and alternating past and present scenes makes for a multilayered, modern detective story."
  • Publishers Weekly (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. As in her Shades of London books, Johnson remains a master at combining jittery tension with sharp, laugh-out-loud observations."
  • Kirkus Reviews "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."
  • Chicago Tribune "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."
  • School Library Journal "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."
  • Horn Book Magazine "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."
  • USA Today (four stars) "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."
  • Bulletin of the Center for Children’s Books "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."
  • John Green, author of The Fault in Our Stars and Turtles All the Way Down "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."
  • E. Lockhart, author of We Were Liars and Genuine Fraud "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."
  • Justine Magazine "So much to love in this book! The dueling mysteries, present and past. The incredible mansion/school setting. The smart, diverse and quirky characters. This mystery had us fooled at every turn! And the best news? It's the first in a series."

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