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TRULY DEVIOUS

From the Truly Devious series , Vol. 1

A classic mystery that would make Dame Agatha proud.

Students attend the prestigious Ellingham Academy for myriad reasons, but all are geniuses, here to study that about which they’re most passionate.

Stephanie “Stevie” Bell studies crime, and there’s no better place to do this than where, in 1936, one of the nation’s most notorious crimes occurred. The wife and daughter of millionaire and school founder Albert Ellingham went missing. The only clue was a malicious, Dorothy Parker–style rhyme signed “Truly, Devious.” Although an innocent man was convicted of the kidnappings and the murder of Mrs. Ellingham (their daughter was never found), the crime was never truly solved. Stevie is obsessed with getting to the bottom of this decades-old case, and the crimes are made all the more real when one of her housemates is murdered and someone who calls themselves “Truly Devious” peremptorily claims responsibility. There’s a comfortable and realistic diversity among the characters. Stevie’s STEM genius friend Janelle is a “girl of color” and a lesbian. A white female teacher has a shaved head and unshaven legs, and minor characters include a Muslim girl and an (assumed-white) girl in a wheelchair. Stevie herself is white and struggles with depression and anxiety, illnesses that have no easy answers but which are represented here with truth and compassion. The story raises more questions than answers, leaving readers hoping Johnson has another entry up her clever sleeves.

A classic mystery that would make Dame Agatha proud. (Mystery. 14-18)

Pub Date: Jan. 16, 2018

ISBN: 978-0-06-233805-1

Page Count: 432

Publisher: Katherine Tegen/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: Sept. 30, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 15, 2017

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THE REAPPEARANCE OF RACHEL PRICE

Readers will be captivated by this twisty thriller and its uncompromising protagonist.

The mother Annabel Price thought was dead returns with a story about where she’s been—but 18-year-old Bel knows she’s lying.

Ever since Rachel Price’s unexplained disappearance 16 years ago, true-crime fans have come up with plentiful theories about what happened. Bel and her family members, who are white, cobbled together lives for themselves after a jury found Bel’s father, Charlie, not guilty of murdering his wife. Beset with medical bills for his elderly father, Charlie recently agreed to participate in a documentary about the unsolved mystery. Black British filmmaker Ramsey Lee is well into the process of interviewing the Prices when his project gets an unanticipated boost after an exhausted, disheveled Rachel staggers back into town. Rachel is eager to resume her role in the family, but the inconsistencies in her accounts raise alarms for Bel. With the help of the youngest member of the filmmaking team, Bel sets out to learn what really happened. Along the way, someone else disappears, and Bel uncovers a tangle of lies that make it impossible for her to trust people she thought she knew. When things come to a head the night of her grandfather’s 85th birthday party, Bel ends up in a race for her life. The last quarter of the novel tears along at a breakneck pace before arriving at a satisfying and unexpected conclusion.

Readers will be captivated by this twisty thriller and its uncompromising protagonist. (Thriller. 14-18)

Pub Date: April 2, 2024

ISBN: 9780593374207

Page Count: 448

Publisher: Delacorte

Review Posted Online: Feb. 3, 2024

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 2024

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LIAR'S BEACH

From the Liar's Beach series , Vol. 1

This scorching glimpse of life (and death) among the moneyed classes hits its marks, if a bit mechanically.

A summertime stay on Martha’s Vineyard confirms everything Linden thinks about rich people.

Best known for emotional YA romances, Cotugno tries her hand at an emotional whodunit—and readers who can roll with the weird attraction her protagonist seems to exert on the two main young women here may find themselves caught up in an engrossing whirl of, as the title promises, lies, secrets, and louche living. Hardly has he arrived for a two-week stay at palatial August House than Michael Linden and his host and boarding school roommate Jasper’s twin sister, Eliza, are bedroom-bound; his ghosted former platonic friend Holiday turns up; and Greg, despised boyfriend of another houseguest, winds up in a coma after an apparent accident. Dragged along by Holiday, who, along with inexplicably letting bygones be bygones, turns out to be an enthusiastic amateur sleuth, scholarship student Linden finds plenty of fuel for his (supposedly) secret resentment of the privileged classes and the way they can get away with anything. Though not, as it turns out after a comfortably conventional denouement complete with surprise confession, murder. Also, as a tease at the end suggests, for all that he comes clean about several secrets of his own, Linden leads the pack in the “things to hide” department. Aside from one prominent supporting character—a brown-skinned lacrosse champion—the central cast reads White.

This scorching glimpse of life (and death) among the moneyed classes hits its marks, if a bit mechanically. (Mystery. 14-18)

Pub Date: May 2, 2023

ISBN: 9780593433287

Page Count: 288

Publisher: Delacorte

Review Posted Online: March 13, 2023

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1, 2023

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