Saturday, February 24, 2018

Book Review and GIVEAWAY: Truly Devious, by Maureen Johnson {ends 3/4}

The critical scene of the mystery is when the detective enters. The action shifts to Sherlock's sitting room. The little Belgian man with the waxed moustache appears in the lobby of the grand hotel. The gentle old woman with the bag of knitting comes to visit her niece when the poison pen letters start going around the village. The private detective comes back to the office after a night of drinking and finds the woman with the cigarette and the veiled hat. This is when things will change.

The detective had arrived at Ellingham Academy.

I've been a big fan of Maureen Johnson's books for a while now—her previous books were very witty, and although this is more of a mystery, it still has her signature wit throughout. This is the first book in the Truly Devious trilogy, and it leaves us with a whopper of a cliffhanger at the end of it.

Official synopsis:
Book Review and GIVEAWAY: Truly Devious, by Maureen Johnson
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.

Stevie comes to Ellington Academy only because it's prestigious and it's free—those are her parents reasons for her going, anyways. In reality, she's been obsessed with the Ellingham murder and disappearance, from 1936, for a while now, and she's come to the school both to be educated, and also to hopefully solve the case: Albert Ellingham's wife, Iris, was murdered, and his daughter, Alice, was never found.

This book was like Harry Potter meets a true crime novel, and I really enjoyed it. I also forgot it was a trilogy, until the book ended on a major cliffhanger (nooooo!), and Goodreads says that the next book in the series, entitled The Vanishing Stair, will be out in 2019, so unfortunately I'm going to have to wait a year or more to read it.

All of the characters in the novel were quite believable, too, and we later find out that many of them are harboring secrets ... secrets that result with yet another murder later on in the book.

{and no, that's not a spoiler, because it's right in the synopsis, ha ...}

Overall, I can't wait until the next Truly Devious book, and I may need to console myself with more Maureen Johnson books in the meantime.

4.5 stars out of 5.
{click here to purchase}


One of my lucky readers will win a copy of Truly Devious!

Enter to win via the widget below. Giveaway will end on Sunday, March 4th, at 11:59pm EST, and winner will be notified via email the next day and have 24 hours to respond, or an alternate winner will be chosen.

U.S. residents only, please.

Good luck!

Hardcover copy of Truly Devious, by Maureen Johnson


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