“You have to take things how they are, not how you hear they’re supposed to be.”
Welcome to Ellingham Academy, a school for exceptionally talented kids where you can pursue whatever your passion is free of cost. The founder, Albert Ellingham, is as quirky as the idea of the school itself. Enriched with references to all the legends of murder-mystery like Sherlock Holmes and Hercule Poirot, Johnson (the author), instantly sets up the universe of this never-seen-before school with its never-seen-elsewhere features.
There’s no way you will even attempt to put down the book after you have read the brilliant prologue which deftly sets the tone for the book. An ominous letter. A kidnapping. A murder. Albert’s wife and daughter are kidnapped, and a letter is left behind which mocks various methods of murdering them signed with the name Truly Devious. The action cuts to present where we meet our detective, Stevie Bell, a student at the academy who has come only to dig the unsolved mystery of the past. As a murder-mystery habitually takes a surprising turn of events when the detective enters, Truly Devious makes a return to repeat the history. The game is afoot!
Truly Devious has excellent characters with layers to every one of them. The diversity of Stevie’s team, an engineer, a writer, an actor, an artist, a jokester/video-game creator makes it so much more enjoyable to read. The book instead of being a typical thriller also tries to address traditional teenage issues like fitting-in, first love, young-experiments to name a few. The switch between the past and present gradually reveals the intricacies of the past crime piece-by-piece with clever usage of old letters, interview transcripts, newspaper excerpts, and others. The clever banter and dialogue will keep the reader hooked and makes it a page-turner. I know I’m all praises for the book, but this is the kind of book where you’re halfway through it without even realizing.
The excellent ending and cliff-hanger will make you drool for more. There is something very magical about Truly Devious which makes it a special book. Don’t regret by not picking this up!