Tuesday, February 26, 2019

YA Book Review: The Vanishing Stair by Maureen Johnson

The Vanishing Stair
Author: Maureen Johnson
Series: Truly Devious Book 2
Publication: Katherine Tegen Books (January 22, 2019)

Description: In New York Times bestselling author Maureen Johnson’s second novel in the Truly Devious series, there are more twists and turns than Stevie Bell can imagine. No answer is given freely, and someone will pay for the truth with their life.

The Truly Devious case—an unsolved kidnapping and triple murder that rocked Ellingham Academy in 1936—has consumed Stevie for years. It’s the very reason she came to the academy. But then her classmate was murdered, and her parents quickly pull her out of school. For her safety, they sayShe must move past this obsession with crime.

Stevie’s willing to do anything to get back to Ellingham, be back with her friends, and solve the Truly Devious case. Even if it means making a deal with the despicable Senator Edward King. And when Stevie finally returns, she also returns to David: the guy she kissed, and the guy who lied about his identity—Edward King’s son.

But larger issues are at play. Where did the murderer hide? What’s the meaning of the riddle Albert Ellingham left behind? And what, exactly, is at stake in the Truly Devious affair? The Ellingham case isn’t just a piece of history—it’s a live wire into the present.

My Thoughts: This is the middle part of the Truly Devious trilogy. It answers some questions and raises quite a few more.

When the story begins Stevie is back home in Pittsburgh and willing to do anything to get back to Ellingham. She misses her freedom and her friends and, most of all, the chance to solve the Truly Devious case. But being willing to do anything means that she will have to take a favor from Senator Edward King, a man she despises and a man who is her new friend David's father.

She agrees to keep an eye on David who is an accident ready to happen and to not tell him that her return had anything to do with his father. She comes back to a campus dealing with the loss of one student and the disappearance of another. Both of them were also residents of Minerva along with Stevie, David, Nate who gained fame for writing a book as a teenager and who is struggling with writing a second book, and Janelle who is a mechanical genius.

Things seem to be working in Stevie's favor when she is hired as a research assistant to Dr. Fenton who is working on a new book about the Ellingham kidnapping case. But Fenton, as she prefers to be called, is a confusing character - alcoholic and paranoid - who claims to have new information that will help solve the case.

The story also has flashbacks to 1936 when the kidnapping happened which introduce us to Francis Josephine Crane and Edward Pierce Davenport. Frankie and Eddie want to be like Bonnie and Clyde. Frankie has a fascination with explosives and crime and Eddie is a bad poet. We learn their role in the kidnapping.

We also see in flashbacks more about Mr. Ellingham and a codicil to his will that was hidden by his secretary after his death. Fenton seems to have found about about the codicil and that information aids Stevie's investigation.

This was a wonderfully plotted and twisty story with a mystery in the past and mysteries in the present too. I loved Stevie who deals with anxiety and has a dogged determination to solve the Ellingham case. I can't wait for the next book. I have so many questions!

Favorite Quote:
In life, the murderer is anyone. The reasons, the methods, the circumstances - the paths to becoming a murderer are as numerous as the stars. Understanding this is the first step to finding a murderer. You have to shut down the voices in your mind that say, "It has to be this person." Murderers aren't a type. They're anyone.
I bought this one. You can buy your copy here.


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