Reviews for Truly devious

Publishers Weekly
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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. (Jan.) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.


Book list
From Booklist, Copyright © American Library Association. Used with permission.

Stevie Bell's deepest wish is to see a dead body. A true-crime aficionado and aspiring detective, she wanted to come to Ellington Academy for one reason: it's the site of one of the most infamous unsolved kidnappings in the world. Founded by the wealthy, generous Albert Ellington, the private school is an academic haven where learning is playful. But in the 1930s, Ellington's wife and young daughter were kidnapped, held for ransom, and then, presumably, murdered; the true perpetrator, who left enigmatic letters signed Truly, Devious, was never found. Stevie is determined to solve the crime, but her new housemates have secrets of their own, and her wish may come true sooner, and more frighteningly, than she ever wanted it to. Johnson (The Name of the Star, 2011) 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. Invested readers, never fear this is just the first in a series. HIGH-DEMAND BACKSTORY: The versatile Johnson is no stranger to suspense, and this twisty thriller will leave plenty of readers anxious for more.--Reagan, Maggie Copyright 2017 Booklist


School Library Journal
(c) Copyright Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

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. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

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