The only real clue was a mocking riddle listing methods of murder, signed with the frightening pseudonym “Truly, Devious.” It became one of the great unsolved crimes of American history.
True-crime aficionado Stevie Bell is set to begin her first year at Ellingham Academy, and she has an ambitious plan: She will solve this cold case. That is, she will solve the case when she gets a grip on her demanding new school life and her housemates: the inventor, the novelist, the actor, the artist, and the jokester. But something strange is happening. Truly Devious makes a surprise return, and death revisits Ellingham Academy. The past has crawled out of its grave. Someone has gotten away with murder.
The two interwoven mysteries of this first book in the Truly Devious series dovetail brilliantly, and Stevie Bell will continue her relentless quest for the murderers in books two and three.
I don't usually read mystery novels (with the exception of the J.D. Robb In Death series, but that's really just a really long romance series :D) but the cover and the synopsis of Truly, Devious grabbed my attention.
Unique Characters and Plot:
I liked the quirkiness of the different characters we meet: Stevie is next-level curious (and obsessed with Sherlock Holmes), Janelle is great with machinery and a dedicated inventor, and Nate is a brilliant write suffering from writer's block. The three of them are all first years in Minerva House and had become friends before actually meeting; I'm sad that we didn't get the chance to actually see Stevie spending more time with them because I thought that Janelle and Nate were really interesting. What really got my attention, though, was the plot. I thought it was really cool idea for Stevie to both be trying to solve the Ellingham murders from the past and then be involved in trying to solve a new murder of one of her classmates. While it didn't completely pan out the way I'd expected, I still really liked getting to meet the characters that we did and seeing the role they each played.
Didn't Always Keep My Attention:
I often felt like I had to force myself to get back to this book. I would put it down and would forget where I had left off and I was constantly backtracking to remind myself of what was going on. Once I was back into the book, it was entertaining but I really had to force myself to pay attention to some parts of it (there were moments were I just wanted to skim ahead, but had to stop myself). I never really felt that "hook" to it that I normally feel when reading -- that urge to not put it down until I'm done. That said, I still think that it was a fun read and I'll still be reading the next book in the series.
Too Much (Yet Not Enough) Backstory:
I was really interested in knowing more about the Ellingham's and the night of the kidnapping, but we jumped between really interesting flashbacks of the night kidnapping and some really boring historical moments. The "FBI Interviews" were incredibly dreary to read. I much preferred the flashbacks that actually put us in the story. It's also really hard to have so many characters to follow -- we're given people in the past and the present that are supposed to keep our attention, but I found that many of them were forgettable because we aren't given enough time with them. Besides Stevie, we don't have a ton of time to spend with other characters, which was pretty disappointing.
Overall, I think this was a fun read and I enjoyed reading a mystery instead of my traditional fantasy, dystopian, or romance novel. I did find that it didn't keep my attention as much as I would've liked, but I'm hopeful that the next book in the series will give us a chance to get to know the characters (both past and present) better, which I think will make a stronger connection for me when reading.
FINAL RATING: 3.5/5
Hi, I'm Alexandra! I love reading (largely YA fiction, but sometimes I'll read "adult" books), playing board games, Nutella, and binge-watching TV shows on Netflix with my husband.
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