Truly Devious by Maureen Johnson
My rating: 4 of 5 stars
What a perfect mystery!
The setting: a remote boarding school for smart and unique teens. Stevie Bell is there for her first year and is a bit intimidated by her classmates. She's just an average kid from an average background; the specialty that got in her into the school?
Her expertise: true crime. Ellingham Academy is the site of an infamous case: back when the school was founded, almost 100 years ago, the school's rich founder lived at the school (or rather, the school was on his estate.) His wife and daughter were kidnapped; ransom was paid, but they were not returned. No one ever figured out who did it, with one of the only clues a note signed "Truly Devious."
Stevie is determined to solve the decades old crime. But in the meanwhile, there is school and classmates, adjustments, parties.
And then: someone is found dead. And Stevie has a real life mystery to solve.
Stevie finds out that death in person is a lot different than death in books, on TV, in podcasts.
OK, I am trying to avoid any spoiler of "who dies" and "who disappears" and what happened. Let me say: I loved this book. I adored the remote setting, very country house mystery in the set up. I loved how the old crime and its aftermath was discussed and portrayed: if you've read up on old crimes such as the Lindbergh kidnapping, you'll nod your head in recognition, in a good way.
I loved the mix of teens -- the school is just for juniors and seniors, and each is unique, and some are endearing and some are annoying. Just like any teen. I loved Stevie trying to figure out her surroundings. I also loved that Stevie has anxiety, and it's part of who she is, but it's not the point of the story.
This is the first in a trilogy. The death that takes place in the book is solved; but the Truly Devious mystery, that's part of the trilogy.
Any last words? I want to visit Ellingham Academy. Just without kidnappings and murders.
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