Truly Devious by Maureen Johnson

The prestigious Ellingham Academy only accepts the best. You don’t just have to be bright; you have be exceptional. The school was created by Albert Ellingham in his remote Vermont mansion. He strongly believed that learning should be a game and developed a school that reflected his beliefs. Tragedy struck in the early days of the school when Albert Ellingham’s wife and daughter were kidnapped and later found dead. The kidnapper left taunting clues and seemed to be playing a twisted game of their own. The Ellingham became one of the great mysteries of the 20th century.

Fast forward to present day and Stevie Bell is going to Ellingham Academy. Her main motivation for even applying to the academy is to solve this cold case, but Stevie gets more than she bargained for. Death has come back to Ellingham Academy and Stevie has another mystery to solve.

The mysteries of “Truly Devious” are told in alternating chapters. The story switches between flashbacks to the Ellingham kidnapping and present day. Both stories are gripping and fresh. I was concerned they might be disjointed switching back and forth, but Maureen Johnson weaves them together flawlessly.

“Truly Devious” is fantastic YA mystery, especially you enjoy true crime. It hits all the right notes from a diverse cast of characters to an engrossing story. Highly recommended.


Confessions by Kanae Minato

Revenge can have a long shelf life, and often leads to all sorts of unintended consequences. This twisty and often disturbing tale is full of surprises, revealed in the successive confessions of the protagonists involved in the murder of a middle school teacher’s four-year-old daughter.

Minato starts slowly and then gradually intensifies the suspense. She’s an expert at creating intricately plotted stories that dare you to predict the outcome.

The author clearly understands human nature, especially the often muddled and emotion tinged thinking of middle-schoolers, not to mention distraught mothers. The story casts light on the shadows beneath the perfect veneer of Japanese society, resonating across cultures and raising a host of moral issues.

On more than one occasion I found myself gasping, oh my god! You might gasp too as the revelations build and build to an explosive conclusion.

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