cover image The Box in the Woods (Truly Devious #4)

The Box in the Woods (Truly Devious #4)

Maureen Johnson. HarperCollins/Tegen, $18.99 (400p) ISBN 978-0-0630-3260-6

Sardonic sleuth Stevie Bell returns in this engaging stand-alone sleepaway camp thriller, a follow-up to Johnson’s Truly Devious trilogy. Working at a grocery store deli after solving the famous Ellingham Academy case, Stevie quickly agrees to go undercover when asked to crack the 1978 Box in the Woods Murders, a cold case involving four camp counselors at Camp Sunny Pines in Massachusetts. Carson Buchwald, an entrepreneurial “tech bro,” has bought the camp in order to create a docuseries about the ordeal, and he enlists Stevie to find out who stabbed the four teens—a valedictorian, a “rotten” troublemaker, a pot dealer, and a stoner music-lover—and stuffed three of them into a hunting blind. Johnson’s kinetic descriptions (“a punch of soft-boiled anger”) join towering cliffhangers as chapters switch between 1978 and the present day, and Stevie’s search turns deadly. Johnson includes a winning crew of returning characters (a mostly white cast) in Stevie’s friend group, including savvy engineer Janelle, who’s Black, and author Nate. Though a late-breaking contrivance doesn’t quite hold up, the friend group sustains entertaining rapport as Stevie navigates personal and public histories. Ages 14–up. [em](June) [/em]