Nine Liars by Maureen Johnson
Publication Date: December 27, 2022
Summary from NetGalley:
Stevie Bell solved the case of Truly Devious, and now she’s taking her detecting skills abroad when she becomes embroiled in a mystery from 1990s England. Another pulse-pounding and laugh-out-loud stand-alone mystery from New York Times bestselling author Maureen Johnson.
Senior year at Ellingham Academy for Stevie Bell isn’t going well. Her boyfriend, David, is studying in London. Her friends are obsessed with college applications. With the cold case of the century solved, Stevie is adrift. There is nothing to distract her from the questions pinging around her brain—questions about college, love, and life in general.
Relief comes when David invites Stevie and her friends to join him for study abroad, and his new friend Izzy introduces her to a double-murder cold case. In 1995, nine friends from Cambridge University went to a country house and played a drunken game of hide-and-seek. Two were found in the woodshed the next day, murdered with an ax.
The case was assumed to be a burglary gone wrong, but one of the remaining seven saw something she can’t explain. This was no break-in. Someone’s lying about what happened in the woodshed.
Seven suspects. Two murders. One killer still playing a deadly game.
ARC provided by Harper Collins via NetGalley for an honest review.
This is the fifth book in the series, but don’t worry about spoilers for the first four books. This is a totally new mystery for Stevie and the gang to solve. You could read this one without having read the others, but I wouldn’t recommend it. This series is best read in order to feel the full impact of the character’s development. Plus there are references to the previous two mysteries that Stevie has solved that might prove confusing if you are not aware of them.
There is a lot to love about this fifth book in the series. I loved the mystery and the setting as well as the continuing camaraderie these characters share. The blurb says something about laugh out loud moments, and while there are parts that were amusing, like Stevie and David always being interrupted during romantic moments, I wouldn’t classify them as laugh out loud. But I do enjoy their relationship and felt that it was stronger in this book than some of the other ones. Which made the ending and David’s questionable behavior towards the end, all the more puzzling. Hopefully things will work out for them in the next book.
Stevie continues to surprise me with her mind and how it works. How she is able to see the puzzle pieces as a whole instead of individual facts and come up with a solution is fascinating. I loved this English Manor mystery and getting to know all of the suspects. The solution was so simple when it finally comes out, although I am a bit dubious of the murderer’s motivation. That didn’t quite ring true for me.
The story is again told from the perspective of Stevie in the present day, and then the story of the murders that happened in the 1990’s. I really like this set up, as we get to see both sides of the story. Plus we get to see the suspects in a much different light as we see what is happening in the past. I really enjoyed these nine characters as well. It was also nice to meet them in the present day and get to know them now verses then.
I absolutely loved the setting of London and the english countryside. Seeing the gang visit all of the historical sights in London was fun and I could sympathize with Stevie’s reaction to all the different royals and the things they got up to.
If you have been a fan of this series, this newest addition will not disappoint. I will warn you that the ending is quite the cliffhanger. If you have not read this series, what are you waiting for? It is a lot of fun, and the mysteries are very well done. If you would like to read my reviews for the previous books, click on the titles below.
Truly Devious (Book 1)
The Vanishing Stair (Book 2)
The Hand On the Wall (Book 3) (this is a mini-review)
The Box in the Woods ( Book 4)