The thrilling multiplication of unsolved cases.


Stevie Bell, who is new at Ellingham Academy, is obsessed by an old case. As a true crime addict, she wants to solve the case of the double kidnapping of the academy founder's wife and daughter. Suddenly, Stevie finds herself solving a completely different case, as Truly Devious makes themself known again and there is a murder on campus.The pressure of school life and odd-acting friends is not helping her. A curious computer programmer and his odd acting artist friends leave her with more questions than answers. And in the process, she is learning that the people at Ellingham Academy may have more secrets than she can handle.

BTSYA / Teen Reader (15):
Truly Devious, the first book of a trilogy, left me with enough questions to want to immediately read the next book. I enjoyed the way more evidence for the Ellingham case is revealed as the story unfolds. It allows the reader to take in the evidence and draw your conclusions as you read along, and I felt as if I was solving the case alongside Stevie.

The flash-forward scenes are also really nice, but I wish they would have followed the Ellingham case a little more. The case is discussed a lot in the beginning but then it feels abandoned tor the end, or at least Stevie did. There is a lot of stuff going on, yet nothing gets resolved. I know it's a trilogy so things will work themselves out, but to introduce another plot I feel like you should resolve at least one of them.

Another thing that took away from the book was that we don't learn a lot about any of the characters. I didnt develop a connection or care for any of them. They all just felt boring, others were abandoned altogether and we didn't hear about them for the rest of the book. People who should have been Stevie's close friends we dont even learn about. I hope we can learn more about some of them in the future.

I thought it was supposed to be this massive cliffhanger, but it didnt feel that important to me because I was more invested in the Ellingham case I thought the book was about in the first place. Half the time the book doesn't even feel like a mystery. It seems to be a story about a girl who doesn't like living with her parents and is a little weird. Overall, it's a fine book, but I wouldnt read it if you're a hardcore mystery lover.

I would recommend this book to anyone over sixth grade. It was an easy read, other than paying attention to details. I think for a middle school student it would be a good murder mystery and not too complicated. However, older kids may find, like me, that the characters are lacking depth and it just isnt as interesting. I would want to finish the series, or at least read the second book before I decide to purchase the full series. I dont know if in upcoming books I will love the characters and want to read them again. I would recommend either only buying the first book or getting at your local library until you decide if you like the series enough.

Reader Enjoyment Factors:

Readers who love historical fiction with unsolved mysteries or books where they have the chance to pool the evidence to solve the case will find Truly Devious a thrilling read. 

Content Awareness Factors:

The plot contains profanity as well as occasional sexual situations and violence.

Type of Book:
This is the first title in a mystery trilogy with a true-crime fan trying to solve two cases.
Educational Themes:

As is true in real life, the evidence in the case(s) of this book reveals itself over time. The story is meant as a fun, entertaining read, but it is a great opportunity for readers to practice critical thinking skills: what is truly known, what is assumed, and what questions need to be answered to get a resolution. 

Pause routinely to update the analysis. Seeing how it changes over time can be very enlightening and is great practice for parsing real-life data, too. 

Our reviewer specifically commented on the characters being "flat." Do your readers agree? What did they see that would allow them to understand why the reviewer felt that way?

Reading Level:
Recommended Age To Read By Yourself:
14 and Up
Recommended Age To Read Together:
13 and Up
Age of child:
Teen STAR Review Team, Be the Star You Are!™ . Reviewer's Age: 15
Purchase Recommendation:
This is a borrow for mystery lovers.

Title Truly Devious

Truly Devious, Book 1 of 4

Author Maureen Johnson
Publisher Katherine Tegen Books, Imprint HarperCollins Publishers © 2018
ISBN 9780062338068
Material Paperback
Cost $11.99
Genres Mystery, Crime, Contemporary Fiction
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