Title: The Hand on the Wall
Author: Maureen Johnson
First published January 21, 2020
369 pages, Hardcover
ISBN: 9780062338112 (ISBN10: 0062338110)
Stevie Bell is sure that nothing good can come out of Ellingham Academy. Three people have died, and she believes the school is cursed.
But Stevie knows who Truly Devious is, and she is convinced that everything is connected. As a massive storm approaches Vermont, Ellingham Academy is evacuated.
But Stevie cannot leave without finding the answers she has been seeking for so long. She decides to stay and face the murderer, putting herself in danger.
In the thrilling conclusion to the Truly Devious trilogy, Maureen Johnson weaves a complex web of past and present, mysteries and puzzles, and brings all the loose ends together for a breathtaking finale.
The Hand on the Wall by Maureen Johnson is the thrilling conclusion to the author’s award-winning Truly Devious trilogy, first published on January 21, 2020. Known for her young adult mystery novels, Johnson has once again delivered a fast-paced and suspenseful read that will keep readers on edge until the very end.
Set in the secluded and prestigious Ellingham Academy, the story follows teenage detective Stevie Bell as she attempts to solve a decades-old mystery involving the disappearance of a student and the subsequent murder of the school’s founder’s wife. Stevie has been obsessed with the case since she first stepped onto campus and has spent the past two books uncovering clues and hidden secrets that have taken her deeper into the school’s dark past.
As the pressure to find the killer mounts, Stevie finds herself in grave danger and must use all of her wits to navigate the dangerous world of Ellingham Academy. Johnson’s writing style is engaging and accessible, with the prose flowing smoothly and the pacing quick and effective.
The story is rich in detail and the characters are well-developed, with Stevie Bell being a particularly compelling protagonist. Her flaws and insecurities are relatable and endearing, making her a character that readers will root for and care about.
The author deftly balances the mystery elements of the story with themes of friendship, loyalty, and growing up. The friendships that Stevie forms during her time at Ellingham are heartwarming and genuine, providing a much-needed counterbalance to the darkness and danger that surrounds her.
While the book can be read as a standalone, it is highly recommended that readers start with the first book in the series, Truly Devious, in order to fully appreciate the intricacies of the plot and the depth of the characters. One minor limitation of the book is that some readers may find the resolution to be slightly predictable.
However, this is a minor quibble in what is otherwise a highly enjoyable and satisfying read. Overall, The Hand on the Wall is a gripping and engaging mystery novel that will appeal to fans of the genre and anyone who enjoys a good whodunit.
Johnson has once again demonstrated her talent for crafting compelling stories with memorable characters. Highly recommended.
Rating: 4.5/5 stars.