Truly Devious

9780062338051Waaaay back in 2012, I wrote a review about the first book in a new YA fantasy/mystery trilogy by Maureen Johnson. I really liked The Name of the Star but at the time the rest of series wasn’t out yet. Books two and three are now available, and I recommend tracking those down for a good supernatural mystery. Johnson’s latest book is also a mystery, but it takes a slightly different, non-fantasy angle on things.  Truly Devious follows two different story threads–in the present day teenager Stevie, a true crime aficionado, is starting the year at an exclusive and unusual boarding school that was the site of a notorious crime in the early 1900s. She wants to solve the historical crime, but gets swept up into a present-day mystery. But while we watch Stevie try to figure out what is going on in her world, we are also following actors in the original mystery and slowly uncovering what actually happened when the wife and daughter of a wealthy industrialist were kidnapped.

The downside of Truly Devious is that it ends on a cliffhanger with basically no resolution, and there isn’t even a publication date for the next one. This is clearly going to be a single story told over several books, but who knows when it all might wrap up. But this was a quick read with an engaging story and it would be perfect to read on a dark and rainy evening, since it’s a little creepy but probably won’t keep you up at night.

Also, Maureen Johnson is super fun to follow on Twitter (@maureenjohnson), where she is very funny and also posts lots of cute pictures of her dog. Plus, she just edited a YA essay compilation called How I Resist that looks really inspiring, that I may have to go track down.

Kinsey’s Three Word Review: Creepy, on-going mystery

You might also like:  One of Us is Lying by Karen McManus is a fun teenagers-solve-a-crime story, and if you’re looking for a quirky boarding school book, Looking for Alaska by John Green is a classic. The recent TV show about the Getty kidnapping called Trust also gets at quite a few of the period-piece thriller aspects of this. But considering that this is the story of someone obsessed with true crime, my main recommendation is the podcast My Favorite Murder, in which two mystery-obsessed women tell the stories of famous crimes to each other. Just this morning I was listening to an episode this morning about the kidnapping of the Lindbergh baby, which feels like it was a bit of an inspiration for the historical crime in this book.

The Shining Girls

As if the sudden chill in the air, the changing leaves, and the dark evenings weren’t enough to convince me that fall is officially here, my apartment building decided to get in on the action this week by setting up an ENORMOUS inflatable grim reaper in the lobby. It’s just decoration for the annual Halloween party, but it looms over you in an ominous way when you’re checking your mail. And speaking of things that kind of freak me out, The Shining Girls by Lauren Beukes is an excellent book to read to get you in the Halloween mood by scaring the bejeezus out of you.

Serial killers and their victims may seem like well-covered material, but this version has a twist–the killer has found a house in Chicago that allows him to travel through time, killing women in Chicago throughout the 1900s. But one of his planned victims survived, and she’s on a mission to figure out who attacked her, no matter how strange the answer might be. The action alternates between the killer and the survivor, and the tension builds as their stories converge. And the occasional chapter following one of the doomed women feel like tiny historical fiction stories, providing snapshots of life at various points in the twentieth century.

There are a lot of things that make me want to recommend this book, including a compelling mystery, a kick-ass female lead character, and a compelling first-person view inside the mind of the killer. But it is a very dark, very creepy, and at times hard to read–I had to stop reading it right before bed because it was giving me nightmares. Also, something bad happens to a dog. But if you’re looking for something to scare you a bit, this is a solid bet.

Kinsey’s (Approximately) Three Word Review: Criminal Minds meets Quantum Leap

You might also like:  Any of the mysteries by Tana French or Gillian Flynn–I know I recommend these two all the time, but they have a similar feeling. And Never Let Me Go by Kazuo Ishiguro has a similar mystery combined with a slightly different universe than ours.