The final, riveting chapter of the Truly Devious murder series.
The initial incident in the series involved the 1936 abduction of newspaper tycoon Albert Ellingham’s wife and daughter; the present volume probes several unsavory events that transpired afterward, including Ellingham’s own death in 1938, in a sailing accident on Lake Champlain, and the recent immolation of University of Vermont history professor and Ellingham mystery enthusiast Dr. Irene Fenton. Fenton was introduced to protagonist and contemporary “Ellingham Sherlock” Stevie Bell in The Vanishing Stair (2019). As Stevie gets closer to making good on her resolution to solve the Ellingham case’s past and present riddles, Johnson makes the most of the exclusive institution’s remote, wooded mountain locale, provocatively setting the climax of Stevie’s investigations during the throes of a cataclysmic blizzard. Stevie and her motley crew of misfit high school geniuses are stranded à la Agatha Christie with members of the Ellingham Academy administration, who may have a stake in the revelations of several secrets linking the Ellingham kidnappings with present-day murders. Throughout this intricately woven, fast-paced whodunit, Johnson demonstrates how proximity to wealth and power can mold and bend one’s behavior, whether with good or—here largely—devious intent. The brainy secondary characters' quirky talents and interests complement Stevie's sleuthing skills; while mostly white, they include diversity in socio-economic background, mental health challenges, physical disability, and sexual orientation.
A richly satisfying, Poirot-like ending for Johnson’s inspired and inspiring teen sleuth. (Mystery. 14-18)