BWW Review: TRULY, DEVIOUS by Maureen Johnson
"Stevie Bell had a simple desire: She wanted to be standing over a dead body."
Looking for a good mystery where you get TWO murders for the price of one? Look no further than Maureen Johnson's latest novel, TRULY, DEVIOUS. Even better? The novel is the first in a trilogy, so there's more to be had, and readers won't be able to get enough of wannabe-detective Stevie Bell.
Ellingham Academy was founded by twentieth century tycoon Albert Ellingham, who thought learning was fun and wanted to bring free education to the brightest minds. Each year, the Academy takes in 50 students for their junior and senior years of school.
Within the first year of the Academy's existence, however, Ellingham's wife and daughter are kidnapped. The wife's body is found, but his daughter, Alice, is never recovered. Ellingham is never able to move on, and eventually, tragedy claims his life as well.
Yet Ellingham Academy continues to thrive. This year, Stevie Bell is one of the students accepted into its hallowed halls. She loves studying true crime and wants to work for the FBI when she's older. She's always been fascinated by the Ellingham Murders and wants to be the one to crack open the cold case. Yet she doesn't quite know what she's asked for, especially when one of her fellow students is killed. Could Truly, Devious be making a comeback 80 years later?
Readers will be enamored with Stevie Bell, who has great character ticks and eccentricities that flesh her out and make it easy to root for her. Her mind is always working, and it's interesting to see the world through her analytical eyes and step into a different mindset. She has the makings of a great detective and is on the right career path in life. How will she keep finding clues over the next two books, and can she solve the mystery of Truly, Devious? Has Truly, Devious made a re-appearance, or is Stevie experiencing an over-active imagination because she wants to solve the cold case so badly? Is her anxiety playing a role in all of this and winding her up? (By the way, it's awesome that Johnson showcases anxiety and adds in the issues that can crop up so deftly without making it a focal point of the novel!) Could her classmate have been murdered instead of an experiment gone wrong? Stevie wants to know all the answers, and readers will be right there next to her hoping to find more clues!
The great thing about TRULY, DEVIOUS is that its the first in a series and readers won't be saying goodbye to Stevie Bell and her friends for a while. The only downside to this being a series? Neither mystery will be fully resolved by the book's end. This isn't one of those series where the main character solves the mystery at the end of the day and goes on to solve more mysteries. I was kind of hoping it would be that sort, just because I don't like waiting. I like my resolution! TRULY, DEVIOUS features a compelling world and readers will want answers, so they'll be eager to pick up the rest of the series. If you like knowing all the answers KNOW, you may want to wait and read all three books together. Otherwise, dive right in now because the first book will take you on a twisty ride!
TRULY, DEVIOUS was published on January 16, 2018 by HarperCollins.