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THE VANISHING STAIR by Maureen Johnson Kirkus Star


From the Truly Devious series, volume 2

by Maureen Johnson

Pub Date: Jan. 22nd, 2019
ISBN: 978-0-06-233808-2
Publisher: Katherine Tegen/HarperCollins

Murder and mayhem return to Ellingham Academy.

This sequel to Truly Devious (2018), an engrossing mystery set at an exclusive prep school in the mountains of Vermont, ramps up the intrigue as teen sleuth Stevie Bell continues to probe Ellingham’s troubled past and present. At the end of Volume 1, Stevie’s parents, having gotten wind that following the supposedly accidental death of one student, another had gone missing, yanked her out of Ellingham and brought her home to Pittsburgh. Now Stevie gets to return to Ellingham thanks to the intercession of the “worst man in America,” scheming, nationalistic Pennsylvania senator Edward King, for whom Stevie’s parents work. King asks Stevie to keep an eye on his rebellious son, David, who’s also her love interest. Once back, Stevie continues to investigate both the present-day death of housemate Hayes Major and the uncanny disappearance of Element “Ellie” Walker as well as the 1936 Ellingham kidnapping and murders. As before, Johnson deftly alternates between Stevie’s first-person narrative, as her investigations yield new insights and dangers for her mostly white, serviceably diverse set of misfit-genius classmates, and historical flashbacks involving the original Ellingham mysteries. Throughout this volume, Johnson’s compelling would-be Sherlock proves to be as bad at personal relationships as she is adept at solving mysteries.

Teen angst soars as Johnson delightfully conjures up more nefarious deeds from the mountain mist.

(Fiction. 14-18)