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Publisher's Summary

New York Times best-selling 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 20th 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.

©2018 HarperCollins Publishers (P)2018 HarperCollins Publishers

What members say

Average Customer Ratings

Overall

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Story

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  • Overall
    3 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    1 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars

Thoroughly Enjoyable Story with Awful Narration

What did you love best about Truly Devious?

WARNING TO ANY PROSPECTIVE READERS: Although I loved this book, it ends on a really obnoxious cliffhanger and almost nothing gets resolved.

But it's saying something that, despite that, I still really enjoyed it. I should've known going in after reading quite a few of Johnson's books that it wouldn't give me closure (pretty sure Suite Scarlett is NEVER going to have a third book) but after how disappointingly boring I found her book "The Name of the Star", especially for its cop-out explanation to the 'mystery' being GHOSTS ARE REAL instead of... a real mystery, I really enjoyed this story.

It's still not grounded in anything close to the reality you and I know, but that works for it. Eccentric millionaires and long-past murder mysteries that interweive with the present are far-fetched, but Johnson makes it believable enough to work. It is really obnoxious that basically nothing is solved by the end... but I guess that's one way to make us look out for book 2.

What was one of the most memorable moments of Truly Devious?

I loved the characters. Stevie was a pretty enjoyable protagonist - just weird and antisocial enough to avoid being bland but not too much that she was actually unlikable. As usual, Johnson handles the little love interest subplot very well. I thought Janelle could have used more development, but maybe she will get it in following books.

How could the performance have been better?

This may be the first time I found an audible narrator so distracting I almost couldn't go on with the story. Her annunciation is just so... off. She over pronounces the "t's" and ends of words. Weirdly, her voices she does for boys sound perfectly natural, but her usual narration for anything but dialogue (i.e. most of the book) is so grating and unnatural. It's almost like she's trying to do an impression of a vampire or something? It was just SO distracting! Plus, you can tell Johnson is a pretty funny writer, even in this book (I know she is from her other ones) but this narrator just can't seem to deliver her writing in any comedic way. Her timing is so off.

I really hope for the second book they get a new narrator.

Did you have an extreme reaction to this book? Did it make you laugh or cry?

I had EXTREME frustration at the ending, but the last hour or so made my heart race a little bit. For a YA book, that's pretty damn good.

7 of 8 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    3 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    1 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    4 out of 5 stars

Mystery Books Need Endings

Beginning, middle, end. Key elements to a story. Even a bad story.

The writing in this book is enjoyable, the characters are interesting, the pacing is great. Until it's not. The book is a mystery and everything leads up to the climax perfectly. The ending is so close, it seems it's going to wrap up nicely... and then it ends before there is ANY resolution. I understand that it's a series. I even get that a cliffhanger is a nice way to end a book in a series. When you string a reader along in a mystery, however, you'd better deliver the killer by the end of the book. The series can go on, more murders with the same characters, but RESOLVE THE ORIGINAL INCIDENT FIRST! Dragging things out for three books may work in other genres, but mystery readers generally expect ENDINGS to every volume.

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Sara Blanco
  • in a library devouring books and dreaming of worlds beyond
  • 05-22-18

Brilliant YA mystery. I absolutely loved it.

Rich setting and characters, truly puzzling mysteries and riddles, and a perfectly balanced treatment of adolescence along the way.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    3 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    4 out of 5 stars

Bad Ending

Enjoyed the story but the Ending! Leads you to and then down the Rabbit Hole with no ending in site (unless you buy book 2). Hate books like this that employ this marketing tool.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    2 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    4 out of 5 stars

Different narrator next time

Overall I liked this story but the narrator drove me NUTS! The are quite a few different male characters and she had the same voice for all of them.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    3 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars

Great Story

Great mystery, but all of the male characters sounded too similar to me. It was tough to distinguish which character was speaking.

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars

Great book and performance

I just really enjoyed this book. I have listened to it twice, and I can't wait for the next book. The narrator does a great job of expressing different voices, but also the angst and emotions of them. Stevie is such a fun character. I'm over 40, and I still appreciated the humor, the honesty, and the subtle suspense. Loved it.

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars

Fast-paced, witty, and well put together mystery!

Where does Truly Devious rank among all the audiobooks you’ve listened to so far?

This is a top 20 for me.

Who was your favorite character and why?

Stevie, the protagonist, because she deals with panic disorder while facing the harsh reality of cold case files and real time crime.

Which character – as performed by Kate Rudd – was your favorite?

I have to go with Stevie, again. She is a flawed protagonist, and Kate Rudd's narration was just great.

Was there a moment in the book that particularly moved you?

Yes, but it is towards the end and I don't want to spoil it. Let's just say, the "sitting in a circle" part.

Any additional comments?

Maureen Johnson has really done a great job with this book, including dealing with panic disorder accurately, and writing a Trans relationship with sensitivity and normalcy. This is a great book that really stays with you; I recommend it and cannot wait to find out what happens next!

  • Overall
    1 out of 5 stars
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    2 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    1 out of 5 stars

No conclusion, ends with "to be continued".

Neither mystery is solved by the end of the story. In fact that author introduces yet another mystery into the mix. If your looking for a conclusion to the wonderfully begun mystery at the start of the book, you'll be disappointed.

Stevie is obnoxious. I suppose this is because she's "gifted" but I just find her grating and not endearing int eh least. The fact that she looks down on her parents is also irritating. Yes I know the stereotype is for teenager to not think much of her parents but Stevie acts like a bratty three-year-old at times.

0 of 1 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars

I loved every minute...

Maureen Johnson's mix of comedy and darkness always lures me in. You feel like you're bring guided through a mystery by a true expert. I will be buying the hard copy just to give this book more support. I ache for the next book...

0 of 1 people found this review helpful