Okay, I'm not going to pretend I'm neutral and objective about Maureen Johnson or her work; I've worked for and with her for several years now and we've become friends. However! As I always say, I would never tell you I liked something if I didn't. And I certainly wouldn't be as enthusiastic as I'm about to be here . . .
Because Maureen's new book Truly Devious is SO GOOD. I've liked all of her books but this is my favorite, by far. And that's not that surprising, because this is a mystery novel and those are my favorites. But! This one has two different mysteries! Both among my favorite kinds! There's a 1920s rich people country house murder, AND a contemporary boarding school murder. I am approximately 77% sure that Maureen wrote this book JUST FOR ME.
I sometimes have trouble with YA mysteries because it's not always plausible for a teen to be investigating something - I'm always yelling "Call the police! Call your mom! Call someone!" - but Maureen gets around that issue nicely here, and her main character Stevie is a skilled detective and also a completely believable teen girl. I loved her. As an alumna of a Weird School In New England, I also loved the portrayal of Ellingham Academy, both in its original 1920s incarnation and its current form.
In addition to all the lovely murder, Truly Devious does great things with themes of figuring out your identity and how to present yourself, with learning who to trust and how to navigate the world when you leave home, with questions of politics and celebrity and friendship and identity. And it tackles a few delightful Northern New England topics, like the truly baffling quantity of maple products and whether moose are real. (They're not.)
Truly Devious just came out this week and it's the PERFECT twisty engrossing mystery for a winter day when you want to stay inside with blankets and a variety of hot beverages. Enjoy!
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