A classic mystery that would make Dame Agatha proud.

TRULY DEVIOUS

From the Truly Devious series , Vol. 1

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: Oct. 1, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 15, 2017

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Cracking page-turner with a multiethnic band of misfits with differing sexual orientations who satisfyingly, believably jell...

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SIX OF CROWS

Adolescent criminals seek the haul of a lifetime in a fantasyland at the beginning of its industrial age.

The dangerous city of Ketterdam is governed by the Merchant Council, but in reality, large sectors of the city are given over to gangs who run the gambling dens and brothels. The underworld's rising star is 17-year-old Kaz Brekker, known as Dirtyhands for his brutal amorality. Kaz walks with chronic pain from an old injury, but that doesn't stop him from utterly destroying any rivals. When a councilman offers him an unimaginable reward to rescue a kidnapped foreign chemist—30 million kruge!—Kaz knows just the team he needs to assemble. There's Inej, an itinerant acrobat captured by slavers and sold to a brothel, now a spy for Kaz; the Grisha Nina, with the magical ability to calm and heal; Matthias the zealot, hunter of Grishas and caught in a hopeless spiral of love and vengeance with Nina; Wylan, the privileged boy with an engineer's skills; and Jesper, a sharpshooter who keeps flirting with Wylan. Bardugo broadens the universe she created in the Grisha Trilogy, sending her protagonists around countries that resemble post-Renaissance northern Europe, where technology develops in concert with the magic that's both coveted and despised. It’s a highly successful venture, leaving enough open questions to cause readers to eagerly await Volume 2.

Cracking page-turner with a multiethnic band of misfits with differing sexual orientations who satisfyingly, believably jell into a family . (Fantasy. 14 & up)

Pub Date: Sept. 29, 2015

ISBN: 978-1-62779-212-7

Page Count: 480

Publisher: Henry Holt

Review Posted Online: June 29, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2015

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An unsettling but easy-to-read blend of social media savvy and gritty gumshoe work.

14 WAYS TO DIE

A teen sleuth tries livestreaming to catch a murderer.

Seventeen-year-old Jessica Simmons lost her mother a decade ago, the first victim of the Magpie Man, a serial killer now on victim No. 13, who has struck in locations around the U.K. Her father’s life is still in shambles and her former friends are long gone, but Jessica’s decided to publicize her tragedy. One of five contestants on YouTube’s “The Eye”—an unscripted, livestreamed reality show—Jessica asks her viewers to help identify the serial killer. But inviting the world into her home and school brings unwanted attention, perhaps even from the Magpie Man, whose body count keeps climbing: Sleuthing-related drama and peril ensue. Jessica’s friends and family are economically rendered yet believable, and Ralph renders grief beautifully and devastatingly, as something that evolves but doesn’t end. As in the story, the bulk of the action occurs when the cameras aren’t rolling, and eventually, the reality show premise and its minimally developed contestants are more a distraction and transparent deus ex machina than an integral part of Jessica’s journey. More intriguing—and with real-life precedents—is the possibility of crowdsourcing a murder investigation. Although the fast-paced finale can’t quite overcome the slow start and overlong middle, the tale reaches a dramatic, satisfactory conclusion. Characters follow a White default.

An unsettling but easy-to-read blend of social media savvy and gritty gumshoe work. (resources, author interview) (Thriller. 14-18)

Pub Date: June 1, 2021

ISBN: 978-1-72823-186-0

Page Count: 384

Publisher: Sourcebooks Fire

Review Posted Online: March 31, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15, 2021

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