Maureen Johnson’s New Series Revealed!

March 22nd, 2016 • Kate

Maureen JohnsonIn case you missed it this morning, I’m delighted to share the exclusive Entertainment Weekly announcement of Maureen Johnson’s new series! The first book is called TRULY DEVIOUS, and will be published by HarperCollins in Fall 2017. What’s it about? Read on!

Something is wrong at Ellingham Academy: Its murderous past won’t stay in the past.

Ellingham Academy is an American institution. Students can’t buy admission, they have to earn it: these are the brightest of their generation, the thinkers, inventors, artists, dreamers, and schemers who will change the world. Ellingham is the brainchild of philanthropist and tycoon Edward J. Ellingham, who happened on a remote, idyllic spot outside of Burlington, Vermont in the 1920s, the perfect setting for his “dream school of the future.” For Ellingham, the dream ended a decade later, when his wife and child were kidnapped, then murdered, in what would become the crime of the century. Ellingham pledged everything to find the killer—he ended up giving his life.

It was an empty sacrifice: For years, the killer remained at large. He taunted the police, signing his letters Truly, Devious. Eventually, someone was caught, found guilty, and executed for the heinous crimes… but questions lingered. Why, for example, did Ellingham write these words on the day he died?

Where do you look for someone
who’s never really there?
Always on a staircase
but never on a stair.

Every institution has its ghost stories; every school imagines itself haunted. Ellingham Academy is, officially, beyond such silliness: it is devoted to greatness, and everyone accepted achieves it.

This includes Stevie Bell, who gained her fame by solving a murder when she was thirteen years old. Clever murders don’t happen along very often, and Stevie has been struggling to find her place in the competitive atmosphere of Ellingham. Then she finds out about the decades-old Ellingham riddle: Problem solved. She’ll solve the riddle, name the real killer, and prove herself exceptional. True Ellingham material.

Her investigation into the cold case is interrupted by a fresh one. When one of her classmates, internet superstar Hayes Major, turns up dead, Stevie is the first to question the official explanation. An accident? Really? Everyone else is convinced that Ellingham’s murderous past is just that, which leaves justice up to Stevie.

In this three-book series, the past and the future of Ellingham Academy collide. Hunting a live killer is a little trickier—and a lot more dangerous—than searching out a long-dead one. When Stevie is taunted by a figure calling themselves “Truly Devious,” she has to wonder—is it a prank, a deadly game? What might a killer do to stop her from getting too close?

For more about the book and the new series, and any other pending questions, check out Maureen’s Tumblr feed!

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