If you are looking for a well-written YA murder mystery, then look no further! I started reading Maureen Johnson's "Truly Devious" series when I saw that the third and final novel was being published in January of 2020. A whole mystery series to binge!
In the first novel we are introduced to a dazzling cast of characters, including our main character, Stevie. Stevie never thought she was all that special, and she applies to the prestigious, highly selective, and rather mysterious Ellingham Academy on a whim. She's more surprised than anyone when she's actually accepted. Perched on the side of an isolated Vermont mountain, Ellingham Academy has become known for a strange case of kidnapping and murder that occurred back in the 1930's. With Stevie's intense interest in true crime, she decides to solve this cold case when she gets there.
Of course, she still has a whole new school curriculum to get through! Her new housemates are exciting and strange; the development of the secondary characters is one of the best things about this book. As Stevie gets to know them, she delves further into Ellingham's secrets. But what happens when Truly Devious reappears? Death has struck Ellingham Academy again, and now Stevie has more than one mystery to solve.
This whole series weaves together a superb mystery plot, interspersing scenes from the early twentieth century timeline with Stevie's contemporary one. Friendships shift, dangers develop, puzzles get more puzzling, and the story of "Truly Devious" unravels. I had so much fun following Stevie on her journey! Maureen Johnson does a great job of letting us into Stevie's mind, which not only makes solving the mystery with her more entertaining but provides us with a compassionate view of a character suffering from what seems to be a general anxiety disorder (GAD). Secondary to the mystery plot, there is LGBTQ+ representation, some diversity among supporting characters, and a slight touch of romance.
Ellingham Academy is a wonderfully imagined setting that lends great atmosphere to the story. I would recommend this series to anyone who loves a tightly plotted mystery, imperfect characters, and unusual settings. Honestly, I would check out the first two books at the same time, because OMG the cliffhanger!!
Truly, I recommend this mystery.