If you have not read book one but want to, you might want to skip the summary, spoilers ahead for book one.
The Vanishing Stair by Maureen Johnson
Publication Date: January 22, 2019
Summary from GoodReads:
All Stevie Bell wanted was to find the key to the Ellingham mystery, but instead she found her classmate dead. And while she solved that murder, the crimes of the past are still waiting in the dark. Just as Stevie feels she’s on the cusp of putting it together, her parents pull her out of Ellingham academy.
For her own safety they say. She must move past this obsession with crime. Now that Stevie’s away from the school of topiaries and secret tunnels, and her strange and endearing friends, she begins to feel disconnected from the rest of the world. At least she won’t have to see David anymore. David, who she kissed. David, who lied to her about his identity—son of despised politician Edward King. Then King himself arrives at her house to offer a deal: He will bring Stevie back to Ellingham immediately. In return, she must play nice with David. King is in the midst of a campaign and can’t afford his son stirring up trouble. If Stevie’s at school, David will stay put.
The tantalizing riddles behind the Ellingham murders are still waiting to be unraveled, and Stevie knows she’s so close. But the path to the truth has more twists and turns than she can imagine—and moving forward involves hurting someone she cares for. In New York Times bestselling author Maureen Johnson’s second novel of the Truly Devious series, nothing is free, and someone will pay for the truth with their life.
You can read my review of the first book, Truly Devious, here. I promise not to spoil anything for either book, but it will be hard.
This second installment in this mystery series is intriguing to say the least. It is a bit of a slow read, but you keep going for the clues to solving all the mysteries.
Stevie is still chugging away at the Ellingham kidnapping case and she does make a lot of progress with it in this book. She is also struggling with the death and disappearance of her two classmates, and her involvement with them. Then there is her relationship of sorts with David, which continues to be complicated and hindered by her knowledge of who he is and his father’s involvement with her return to school. Her struggles with anxiety are also prevalent and at times become too much for her. As you know she will, she continues to break rules, although somewhat reluctantly now.
I’m not sure what to say about David. His character is so fragile, and he just hurts so much, you just want to give him a big hug by the end of the book. There is a beautiful scene between him and Stevie, when he talks about his family that just about broke my heart. I really hope things work out for the best for him, although I’m not sure they will. I’m also not sure I want him and Stevie to end up together, but we will see.
There are some new characters introduced that add an interesting perspective to the old kidnapping case. Stevie is hooked up with an author of one of the books about the case, Dr. Irene Fenton. She was an interesting character, alcoholic, chain smoker, slob/hoarder. She didn’t treat Stevie very well either, but her perspective on the case helped Stevie with her own investigations. She has a nephew that lives with her, that I liked a lot, and was hoping for a bit of a romance between him and Stevie, but I’m not sure that will happen.
The majority of the story is still set in the present day, but there are still the flashbacks to the original kidnapping. I struggled with these a bit this time around, I think because there wasn’t as much review of this story like the present day murder was. I couldn’t remember the specifics of the case and the characters involved to really get what was being revealed in this book about that case. Plus there was new evidence revealed that complicated some things. I will definitely be rereading both books before the release of the final book next year.
Although a bit of a slow read this is a solid and important continuation of both stories, that is a must read, especially if you liked the first book.