TITLE: Truly Devious

AUTHOR: Maureen Johnson

Rating: ★★★☆☆

PAGES: 416

PUBLISHER: HarperCollins


GENRE(S): Mystery

Truly Devious by Maureen Johnson - The Contented ReaderEllingham 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.


I really enjoy a good mystery story every once and a while! I’ve heard such great things about Truly Devious, and while it isn’t my favourite mystery ever, I still enjoyed it!

Truly Devious follows Stevie, a true-crime aficionado, who is desperate to solve the Ellingham kidnapping that happened in the 30s.  As she tries to solve the case, she deals with current kidnappings and murders – which signals the return of Truly, Devious.

Stevie is a really interesting main character. There are times throughout the book that I really enjoy her and like her, but then sometimes I’m annoyed. I did enjoy the accurate representation of anxiety. I think a lot of people can benefit from this representation, whether it’s just for knowledge, or because of a personal connection.

The plot of this book is great. I absolutely love the flashbacks to the 1930s, and quite honestly, it’s that mystery that keeps me turning the page. I’m not in love with the mystery that’s happening in present day, but I’m hoping that things change a bit with the next book.

Also, the cliff hanger at the end of this book isn’t that great. Quite honestly, it doesn’t make you crave the next book. But, I am a sucker and definitely am curious to hear about the first Ellingham murder mystery (those flashbacks are definitely my favourite).

I feel like while this book has a lot of hype around it, it just didn’t live up to the high expectations I had. That being said, I’m looking forward to reading the next one and seeing if my opinion can be changed!

I certainly recommend this one for people interested in mysteries. It’s a good entry into the mystery genre, especially within the young adult book world!

There is nothing so serious as a game.

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About The Author

Maureen Johnson Author Photo - The Contented ReaderMaureen 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.

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Did you love this book? Are you a fan of mysteries? Have you read The Vanishing Stair yet?

Truly Devious by Maureen Johnson - The Contented Reader

Victoria @ The Contented Reader

Victoria @ The Contented Reader

Avid reader and tea drinker. I read and review young adult books on my blog, The Contented Reader!

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