Stevie Bell is a true-crime aficionado— a hyper-focused FBI hopeful who also happens to be well-versed in the Ellingham Academy murders. In 1936, Albert Ellingham, the Vermont boarding school’s rich founder, lost his wife and daughter in a bizarre kidnapping and ransom scheme. Many books have been written about the case, and theories about the identity of the killer, Truly Devious (named for the moniker left on a strange riddle), abound, but no one has solved the crime. Seventeen-year-old Stevie thinks she can, and when she’s admitted to the prestigious Ellingham, she makes the murders her student project. But how does a teenage girl solve a case that has stumped criminologists for decades? And when Truly Devious inexplicably starts killing again, how will Stevie not only survive a burgeoning social life at school but also outsmart a murderer intent on making her the next victim?
Maureen Johnson, the bestselling author of the Shades of London series, is a lively storyteller who has crafted a page-turning puzzle filled with dynamic characters. In this first book of a new series, readers will identity with one of her well-drawn characters: Stevie, who suffers from anxiety; Janelle, the exuberant engineer focused on academics and not her love life; Nate, the fantasy author with writer’s block; or Ellie, the artist comfortable in her own skin. Murder sets up the story, but Stevie and her friends make this reading experience truly delightful.
Kimberly Giarratano is the author of Grunge Gods and Graveyards, a young adult paranormal mystery.