Truly Devious

  • Type: Audiobooks
  • By: Maureen Johnson
  • Age Category: Teens
  • Genre: Mystery & Suspense
  • Recommended by: Lauren C.
  • ISBN/UPC: 9780062822000
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A clever, fast-paced mystery with snarky humor

This engrossing mystery follows Stevie, a gloomy teen who gets a scholarship to go to Ellingham Academy, an exclusive school for the gifted.

Ellingham was  started around the 1930's by a kind of Wliliam-Hearst-type tycoon who loved puzzles. He built the school with secret tunnels and passageways. He wanted to surround himself with the energy of young geniuses, but unfortunately Ellingham became a source of tragedy. The founder's riches made him a target, and his wife and daughter were kidnapped and held for ransom. The wife's body was found, but the daughter was never recovered. A man was put on trial for the crime, but most people believe that his confession was false. It's a cold case, a lingering darkness, and the reason why Stevie is at Ellingham: she's determined to solve this mystery!

Stevie is obsessed with true crime and mysteries. She feels star-struck to be at Ellingham. Soon, she realizes that there are other mysteries going on at Ellingham besides the old cold case...

When another student dies, it appears to be just a tragic accident, but Stevie sees things that other people do not. Is she crazy, or on to something?

Stevie grows throughout this novel, starting out as a misunderstood misfit, a fish out of water. Her parents are these tragically normal people and they just don’t know what to do with Stevie, they're like, "we love her but she’s weird, why did she cut her hair so short and why is she so obsessed with murder?" Stevie is worried she won't fit in at Ellingham, with people like Gretchen, the beautiful piano virtuoso, and David (her love interest) who clearly comes from money--Stevie is neither of those things. Stevie has impostor syndrome, so she starts this quest to solve the Ellingham cold case, feeling like she has to do it to prove her worth. Then, just when Stevie starts to feel like she's fitting in, she has to put her friendships and her first love on the line to prove that the death of her classmate was not an accident, but murder.

I think that this is a great book for older teens: there is some underage drinking in it and a few little kissy parts. (There's murder too, of course, but nothing too gruesome). There's a lot of fantastic, snarky dark humor in this book. As an adult reading this, I did feel a bit at times like I was peeking through a keyhole at what the teenagers are up to.

This book was a fun escape, with its classic mystery themes and a dash of romance. If you’re a fan of Agatha Christie, you'll feel right at home in the dark corridors of Bellingham Academy in Truly Devious.