Truly Devious

Truly Devious

Book - 2018 | First edition.
Average Rating:
Rate this:
Ellingham Academy was founded by Albert Ellingham, who wanted to make a wonderful place full of riddles, twisting pathways, and gardens. 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." Years later, Stevie Bell is set to begin her first year at Ellingham Academy, and she has an ambitious plan to solve this cold case. But the past has crawled out of its grave: Truly Devious makes a surprise return, and death revisits Ellingham Academy.
Publisher: New York :, Katherine Tegen Books,, [2018]
Edition: First edition.
Characteristics: 420 pages :,illustrations ;,22 cm.
Series Volume: 1.


Featured Blogs and Events

New year, new reads for Young Adults!

New year, new reads! There is plenty to get excited about in 2020 as there are some highly anticipated sequels and releases hitting our library shelves. I've got a selection of books we're excited to see in 2020, as well as some booklists for you to check out. January is also the perfect time to think about starting a reading challenge. They're a great way to push yourself to try new genres… (more)

Reviews for Young Adults – December 2019

With the end of the year quickly approaching, we've been looking back at what we read this year. From new releases to books of years past, here are some of the stand-out Young Adult reads for library staff in 2019. 2019 - Reviews Graphic novel fans should check out Malcom - Shirley's booklist of Award Winning Comics of 2019. It's a collection of great graphic novels for children, teens, and… (more)

View All Staff Blog Posts »

From Library Staff

Mystery, detectives. murder. Stevie is your not-so-average crime buff. Wanting to become a true detective, she enrols into a prestigious Academy with a mysterious cold case. But as her investigations lead her and others into deadly danger, and with more cases to solve, it's might not be a case of... Read More »

Stevie worked her butt off to attend Ellingham Academy, a fancy boarding school famous for an unsolved murder and kidnapping. Stevie is a true crime addict and wants to be a detective. As she investigates, a student ends up dead and Stevie is convinced the murders of the past and present are some... Read More »

List - Best YA Reads of 2019
craftyfoxac Dec 08, 2019

Favourite Murder Mystery

Unsolved mysteries, kidnapping, murder, and super smart teenagers at an isolated boarding school in Vermont.

Teen fiction: Unsolved mysteries, kidnapping, murder, and super smart teenagers at an isolated boarding school in Vermont. What's not to love?

From the critics

Community Activity


Add a Comment
Feb 02, 2021

Thought this was a great book! I read it during a road trip and found myself hooked. Very easy to read, it starts a little slow but it picks up and it gets really good! 10/10 recommend.

Jan 04, 2021

It started a little slow but I loved it! It's a great mystery and the cliffhanger leaves you wanting to pick up the next book. The mystery is well written with alternating chapters between the past and the present. Overall, it's a nice thrilling read!

Oct 19, 2020

If I were to rate this book out of 10, I would rate it 8.5/10. This book was a fun read, but I will say that it took me a while to get into it. Also, be aware that this book is the first of a trilogy so it does end on a bit of a cliffhanger.

Sep 28, 2020

Stevie Bell is accepted to Ellingham Academy, the setting of one of the most famous kidnapping/murder cases in history, and Stevie, who has been obsessed with the case for years, is determined to solve it. The case began in 1936, less than a year after the school's opening, when the wife and daughter of founder Albert Ellingham are kidnapped. His wife and another student are found dead, but his daughter, Alice is never found. Anton Vorachek is arrested and found guilty, but his guilt has always been in doubt because of his lack of English language skills, which would have made it impossible for him to have written the mysterious letter that arrived at the school that was signed "Truly Devious." Because Ellingham only accepts students who are academically gifted or have some unique ability, Stevie hopes that she can live up to expectations, while attempting to solve the case. Stevie agrees to work on an internet film project about the case with several of the students until one of them turns up dead. In addition to the original mystery, Stevie now has another case to solve.
Truly Devious alternates chapters describing the 1936 mystery as well as Stevie's story as she tries to understand her parents, her classmates, and a budding romance. The clues for both mysteries are expertly woven into this story of quirky teenagers who are trying to navigate the world of high school. Authentic dialogue, believable situations, and a twist at the end add depth to this excellent story. Overall, an exceptional young adult coming of age mystery.

Grace Cunningham
Sep 17, 2020

I wasn’t really in love with this book. I like that it mixes past events with current events, the author is very good at writing mystery settings. But I found myself getting bored due to the slow progression of the book. Nothing really suspenseful happened until way later in the book. The ending left me with more questions than answers, and I wasn’t yearning to read the sequel.

pacl_teens Sep 10, 2020

Truly Devious by Maureen Johnson is an amazing young adult mystery novel. It follows a young girl, named Stevie Bell, who starts to attend the famous private school, Ellingham Academy. When the academy had originally opened, Ellingham's wife and daughter were kidnapped and the only clue that was left behind was a riddle signed Truly Devious. Stevie came to this academy to solve the case and won’t let anything stop her from getting the answers. But what will happen when murder strikes the academy by surprise? Will Stevie be able to find out who is behind or will she be too late?

This book has so many great aspects about it. First of all, the character diversity in this book was amazing! I feel like everyone will have a character that they will be able to relate to as they read this book. Secondly, it was also interesting to see how this book switched between two time periods: the present day and during the kidnapping. One thing I did not enjoy about this book as much is that Stevie did not solve the case. Instead of solving the case in this book, the author kept giving Stevie more problems that drove away from the main plot, which were not as interesting. This book also ends on a cliffhanger, which is understandable because this will intrigue readers to read the second book.

In short, this book is very easy to read and an interesting mystery book. If you do decide to pick up this book I also recommend grabbing the second one in the series because the cliffhanger will have you at the edge of your seat! -Eunchae, Grade 10

Sep 01, 2020

One of the best YA books that I have read thus far. A total heart stopping page turner. The setting, the characters and the mystery was everything that I could have hoped for. Can't wait to read the next book.

Aug 01, 2020

Jul 18, 2020

Truly Devious by Maureen Johnson is the first story in a modern murder-mystery trilogy. The story follows a young aspiring detective, one of the world’s greatest unsolved murder cases and her companions she makes along the way. Stevie Bell is accepted into Ellington Academy, a school known for cultivating the best students around. That’s not the only thing it’s known for though. The kidnapping of the founder’s wife and daughter became one of the most notorious unsolved murders in history and Stevie is determined to solve the case herself. Throughout the story, the reader will fall in love with Stevie’s insatiable curiosity and drive to solve the task in front of her. Many of the side characters are dragged back into the case alongside Stevie, which becomes dangerous as the mysterious kidnapper from the original unsolved case returns abruptly. Between watching Stevie attempt to crack the old unsolved case and deal with the sudden return of the kidnapper, there’s no lack of mystery to be solved. However, the romance within the story feels rushed and somewhat off-putting as it happens in between her investigations. Overall, Truly Devious is a murder-mystery worth picking up, along with its two sequels.

This is definitely a well written mystery book. It had so many twist and turn that I didn’t predict at all. I didn’t expect to see the author switching from past to present. However, in the flashbacks the author provides very helpful details that help to both introduce and to understanding the crime. I look forward to reading the other books in the series.

View All Comments

Age Suitability

Add Age Suitability
Jul 18, 2020

tedwards37 thinks this title is suitable for 13 years and over


Add Notices
Grace Cunningham
Sep 17, 2020

Other: Make out scenes, lite cussing, eerie setting


Add a Summary

There are no summaries for this title yet.


Add a Quote

There are no quotes for this title yet.

Explore Further

Browse by Call Number


Subject Headings


Find it at My Library

To Top