The cleverly plotted, page-turning sequel to Maureen Johnson’s hit bestseller Truly Devious (2018) manages to outshine its predecessor as true crime aficionado Stevie Bell returns to posh private school Ellingham Academy and unearths even more confounding clues in her investigation of a classmate’s mysterious disappearance.
Stevie promised school officials and her parents that she would refrain from inserting herself into any more real-life murder investigations and decades-old cold cases. But when she gets an internship with the wacky Dr. Fenton—who wrote the book on the 1936 unsolved kidnappings of Academy founder Albert Ellingham’s wife and daughter—she makes a gruesome discovery that rattles the school once more.
To further complicate matters, Stevie has made a deal with corrupt Senator Edward King to keep tabs on his son, David, the boy with whom she shares a burgeoning romance. And then there’s Dr. Fenton’s handsome nephew, who has some revelations of his own for Stevie. It’s not just several murders that Stevie is trying to puzzle out, but her social life as well. All the adults keep warning her away from investigating, but Stevie can’t resist a good mystery, and her murder obsession might get her killed.
Suspense and intrigue abound in The Vanishing Stair as Johnson illuminates suspects and teases out clues that will flummox even the most adept murder mystery aficionado. Like the humorous and intellectually curious Stevie, Johnson is a true crime lover, and she dedicates this sequel “to all the murderinos” (fans of the popular “My Favorite Murder” podcast).
Savvy sleuths will devour this sequel in one gulp, but they’ll have to wait until 2020 for the next installment.