Tuesday, December 20, 2022

ARC Review: Nine Liars by Maureen Johnson

Nine Liars

Maureen Johnson
Publication: Katherine Tegen Books (December 27, 2022)

Description: 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.

My Thoughts: This was another excellent mystery starring Stevie Bell and her friends from Ellingham Academy. 

It's October of their senior year and her friends are busy planning their college applications. Janelle and Vi want to go to college close to each other but not at the same college. So Janelle has made a spreadsheet... Nate is furiously writing every time Stevie sees him which is unusual because he has been avoiding writing since his book was published when he was a young teen.

Stevie is at loose ends. She doesn't know what she wants to do for college. She's solved some mysteries and none of the emails about new unsolved crimes are interesting her. And her boyfriend David is studying in England for a semester which means it's harder to communicate with him.

When David calls up and proposes that group come to London because he has a friend with an unsolved mystery, they are all eager to go each for their own reasons. They convince the school leader that this will be a great educational opportunity. 

In 1995, a group of newly graduated Cambridge students who have been best friends since freshman year go to spend a final week at one of the group's family home. During a drunken game of hide and seek, two of the nine students are brutally murdered. No murderer has ever been found. 

Izzy, David's new friend, wants to get Stevie involved because one of the nine was her aunt who said some questionable things about the murder while under the influence of pain killers after knee surgery. Shortly after Izzy brings her friends to her Aunt Ange's to talk about the crime, Ange disappears. 

I loved that way the story wove events from 1995, various police reports, and current day activities together. I especially enjoyed the sections from Stevie's point of view because she is a very interesting character. I liked that her inner uncertainties are so different from her outer competence. I loved the setting which ranged from London's tourist sites to a grand English manor. 

Favorite Quote:
"Do you want to go for a walk?" she asked.

"Are you being serious right now?"

"I just asked if you wanted to go for a walk."

"Nighttime walk at ax murder manor? For sure. Especially if you heard a noise and want to investigate."
I received this one in exchange for an honest review from NetGalley. You can buy your copy here.

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