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  • Writer's pictureAshley Mongrain

Truly Devious

Updated: Jul 15, 2021

Rating - ⭐⭐⭐1/2

"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."


Truly Devious is a YA mystery novel by Maureen Johnson and is the first entry in the series of the same name.

I didn't mind this but found that the book was a bit underwhelming and kind of far-fetched. You follow Stevie who is fairly obviously someone who is obsessed with true crime rather than an amateur detective. I thought she would be more clever, but a lot of things just went over her head.

I thought this would focus more on the mystery, but instead, most of the plot was devoted to Stevie making friends and the development of a relationship. While that is not necessarily bad, that's not what I wanted from this book.

I also felt like the book was stretched a bit thin to make the series longer. A lot of stuff could have been left out to make this a more concise and intriguing story.

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