Truly Devious by Maureen Johnson
Dedication (love this!):
For anyone who has ever dreamed of finding a body in the library. (Raising my hand - me, me, me!)
April 13, 1936, 6:00 p.m.
You know I can't let you leave...
Fate came for Dottie Epstein a year earlier, in the form of a call to the principal's office.
It was not her first time there.
I liked Maureen Johnson's new book, Truly Devious, very much. It's the first in a planned mystery trilogy and is a fun YA crime novel. In the past, I read this author's 'Shades of London' series, which begins with The Name of the Star - based on the Jack the Ripper killings. Loved it! Truly Devious is even more fun as it is set on an isolated boarding school campus in Vermont, the Ellingham Academy. The story contains an unsolved mystery from the 1930's and the Academy has one of the most intriguing curriculums I've ever heard of for the students. Each person is allowed to study whatever is their passion - art, music, engineering, writing, or, in the case of Stevie Bell, crime solving. Stevie proposes to solve the Ellingham kidnapping crime. Maureen Johnson peppers the book with references to classic sleuths and mystery books, which were great to recognize. The pace is a tiny bit slow in some places, but a first book is often one where we spend time getting to know the characters and set the scene. One student dies and Stevie is sure that she can use her skills to help solve the case. So, now that book #1 is completed, I'll definitely be watching for #2. There's more to find out and time might be running short! Definitely recommended!
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.