cover image Nine Liars (Truly Devious)

Nine Liars (Truly Devious)

Maureen Johnson. HarperCollins/Tegen, $19.99 (464p) ISBN 978-0-06-303265-1

Set in the Truly Devious universe, this scintillating mystery by Johnson (The Box in the Woods) follows Ellingham Academy senior and renowned amateur sleuth Stevie Bell, who feels rudderless with no college plans or cases to solve. She misses her boyfriend, David, who is in London, so when he suggests a visit, she and her friends hop on a plane. Upon arriving, David’s classmate Izzy solicits Stevie’s help. In 1995, Izzy’s aunt, Angela, and her eight housemates celebrated their Cambridge University graduation at a country estate. During a drunken game of hide-and-seek, someone murdered two of the attendees with an ax. The police assumed the killer was a burglar, who remains uncaught, but Angela once told Izzy she believes one of her friends is guilty. When Stevie confronts Angela, she denies the suspicion, but her obvious fright strengthens Stevie’s investigative resolve. Johnson delivers a meticulously crafted fair-play mystery that gratifies as a standalone while also forwarding the richly textured characters’ arcs, a treat for fans of the series. Distinctly written flashbacks to 1995 pepper the present-day narrative, creating resonance and investing readers in Stevie’s case. Stevie cues as white; the supporting cast is intersectionally diverse. Ages 14–up. Agent: Kate Schafer Testerman, KT Literary. (Dec.)