The Hand on the Wall

I finally checked this book out from the library! I honestly never thought that I would read it because it’s been so long since I’ve read the first and the second books that I worried it just wouldn’t make sense. But, I have been approved for the author’s next book on NetGalley and wanted to be all up to speed for that book, so here we are!


Ellingham Academy must be cursed. Three people are now dead. One, a victim of either a prank gone wrong or a murder. Another, dead by misadventure. And now, an accident in Burlington has claimed another life. All three in the wrong place at the wrong time. All at the exact moment of Stevie’s greatest triumph . . .

She knows who Truly Devious is. She’s solved it. The greatest case of the century.

At least, she thinks she has. With this latest tragedy, it’s hard to concentrate on the past. Not only has someone died in town, but David disappeared of his own free will and is up to something. Stevie is sure that somehow—somehow—all these things connect. The three deaths in the present. The deaths in the past. The missing Alice Ellingham and the missing David Eastman. Somewhere in this place of riddles and puzzles there must be answers.

Then another accident occurs as a massive storm heads toward Vermont. This is too much for the parents and administrators. Ellingham Academy is evacuated. Obviously, it’s time for Stevie to do something stupid. It’s time to stay on the mountain and face the storm—and a murderer.

In the tantalizing finale to the Truly Devious trilogy, New York Times bestselling author Maureen Johnson expertly tangles her dual narrative threads and ignites an explosive end for all who’ve walked through Ellingham Academy.

My Thoughts

3/5 stars

So it turns out that I had reason to worry about not understanding everything that was going on in this book. I always find it more enjoyable to read series in one fell swoop rather than wait and read it while it’s being published because I always feel like I’m automatically not going to be immersed in the story. 

The saving grace for this book was that there didn’t seem to be much to the story, so I wasn’t missing out on too much by not reading the books immediately one after another. It’s also a downside all on it’s own since, you know, there really isn’t much to the story. 

Okay, I guess that isn’t an entirely fair statement. I really did love the way the book alternated between scenes taking place in the past and scenes taking place in the present. It was fascinating to feel the contrast in the decades and it really helped to get a feel for the players in the original Ellingham mystery. It also was neat to see the motives for the original case and see just how crazily everything played out, proving that things that seem related aren’t always in a cause-and-effect pattern and how tiny things can evolve into larger-than-life scenarios. 

But dual narrative aside it truly didn’t feel like there was a lot to the story. It seems like the majority of the book was filler, at least the portions set in the present tense. It was a lot of Stevie thinking and not a lot of action. Even the parts that were supposed to be packed with action were underwhelmingly dull.

I really don’t have a lot more to say because the things that I liked would be spoilers and that leaves pretty much nothing else. I didn’t love the characters, the book didn’t seem to have much conflict or emotion (aside from the Ellingham case in the past tense), and there didn’t seem to be a point to most o fthe scenes set in the present time. 

This is very likely another “it’s not you, it’s me” kind of read. This book has 4.19 stars on Goodreads currently, so clearly people have really liked it. I’m sure I would have been one of those people if I had just finished the first two books and was still enveloped completely in the world but that just wasn’t the case. Instead, I finished the book wondering why it had been stretched into a trilogy when it could have been condensed into a duology. I absolutely loved Truly Devious when I first read it and have gradually lost interest in the series. I think this book and I just weren’t meant to be, but that doesn’t mean that you won’t enjoy it! I’d still recommend the first book in this series, but I’d now also suggest reading the books one after another to hopefully have a better experience than I did. 

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