Series: Truly, Devious Trilogy
Titles: Truly, Devious, The Vanishing Stair, and The Hand on the Wall
Author: Maureen Johnson
Publisher: Katherine Tegen Books
Release Date: 16 January 2018; 22 January 2019; 21 January 2020
Pages: 416 ;369; 369
Ellingham Academy is a private school in Vermont. Founded by Albert Ellingham, an early 20th Century tycoon, who envisioned a place where learning is a game. During the first year it’s opened, Albert’s wife and daughter are kidnapped. The only real clue is a mocking riddle, describing different methods of murder, signed “Truly, Devious.” It’s become one of the greatest unsolved crimes of America. Stevie Bell is a true-crime aficionado who has been accepted to Ellingham Academy. Her ambitious plan for the school year is to solve the crime. Soon, there are strange occurances and then a people start to die. Has “Truly, Devious” returned to make sure no one finds out what happened that day to Albert’s wife and daughter.
I finished this entire series in one weekend. I couldn’t stop reading! I bought the first two at the same time, then had to go out and buy the third. I decided to review all three together due to the fact that I read them so quickly and for this type of series, I think it’s easier.
The story doesn’t “end” with the first or second book. There are cliffhangers for both and each one gives the reader different clues. Truly Devious goes back and forth between Stevie’s time at Ellingham and the day of the kidnapping in April 1936, along with transcripts from the police.
Stevie is learning her way around Ellingham, as well as trying to make sense of the crime that happened. One of her housemates is a YouTube star, Hayes, who ropes her into a filming of the night of the kidnapping. A supposed accident happens to him and he dies. Yet, Stevie doesn’t think that’s all; she thinks its murder. Then a student ends up going missing after being accused of murdering Hayes. Yet, Stevie’s parents come and bring her home.
With The Vanishing Stair, Stevie makes a deal with Edward King, a conservative politician whose beliefs are the exact opposite of Stevie’s. There’s also the issue that Edward King is the father of the boy Stevie has a crush on, David. King manages to convince Stevie’s parents to let her go back to Ellingham, but Stevie knows there’s more to it than that. Once on the way, he asks Stevie to keep an eye on David. She does so reluctantly.
But, Stevie is back at Ellingham and able to continue her investigation. And the crimes and deaths continue on in this novel. Here we are given insights from two students who attended Ellingham in the 1935-36 school year, as well as insights from Albert Ellingham.
The Hand on the Wall finishes off the trilogy with everything being tied up in a bow and finally getting to know what happened that night in April 1936.
As I said, I couldn’t stop reading these books. I’ve read Maureen Johnson’s books before and while they were good, these were even better. She has grown as a writer, which is so amazing to see.
The characters in the book are so lovable and real that I couldn’t not love them all, especially David. I just want to wrap him up in a blanket and give him a cup of tea.
There was also a twist in the end that I didn’t see coming. Overall, this is an amazing young adult mystery series. I cannot wait for the 4th stand alone novel that comes out April 2021.
Happy Reading Darlings!