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Publisher Description

New York Times bestselling author Maureen Johnson weaves a delicate tale of murder and mystery in the first book of a striking new series, perfect for fans of Agatha Christie and E. Lockhart.

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.

Publishers Weekly Best Books of 2018 * Junior Library Guild Selection * 2019 YALSA Best Fiction for Young Adults Nomination * 2019 ALA's Best Fiction for Young Adults Nomination * Chicago Public Library Best of the Best Books 2018 * Goodreads Choice Award Nominee for Young Adult Fiction 2018 * 2018 Nerdy Book Club Young Adult Winner * Seventeen Best YA Book of 2018 * Lincoln Award Nominee * 2020-2021 South Carolina Book Awards Nominee * 2020 Pennsylvania Young Readers' Choice Award Winner

Young Adult
January 16
Katherine Tegen Books
Ninth Grade

Customer Reviews

musicfromthestairs ,

Dude i got hooked.

It took me a minute to get used to the time jumps in the book. Once i understood what was going on i started over and never stopped till the end of the series! Wonderful mystery with a touch of real life issues people usually are scared to incorporate; and it was done well here in my opinion!

Olgui06 ,


I haven't finished it yet but I already bought the other two books because it is that good.
It starts a little bit slow since it takes time to build the world and the mystery but around pages 70-90 the real plot starts to take shape. It's a good story and I believe that you have to read the sequels to get a sense of closure, I saw the last page finished with "to be continued..."
But it is great and worth the read! I recommend it if you want to a cool mystery that's not anxiety inducing with great characters.

MagicMaker27 ,

Loved it!

Can’t wait to finish the rest of this series!

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