Review of The Vanishing Stair

The Vanishing Stair [Truly Devious]
by Maureen Johnson
High School    Tegen/HarperCollins    373 pp.
1/19    978-0-06-233808-2    $17.99

In this absorbing continuation of Truly Devious (rev. 1/18), amateur gumshoe and anxiety sufferer Stevie Bell is still trying — from afar, her parents having removed her from Ellingham Academy at the end of the first book — to solve both the eighty-year-old cold case at Ellingham and the recent murder of one of her classmates. (While Johnson skillfully weaves in critical plot points from Truly Devious, this is a true sequel, so reading the previous book is highly recommended.) After being returned to the Ellingham campus by a surprising ally, Stevie continues her investigation, focusing on the mysterious contents of an old tea tin she discovered in the room of a potential suspect. As the pieces of the past puzzle slowly come together, Stevie finds herself overwhelmed in the present when a shocking tragedy occurs — concluding book two. Johnson judiciously doles out some satisfying partial answers to the historical case while (presumably) saving the big reveals for the next installment. This fulfilling second volume will gratify serious mystery fans; and many readers will enjoy seeing themselves reflected in Stevie’s diverse and eccentric group of friends.

From the March/April 2019 issue of The Horn Book Magazine.
Jennifer Hubert Swan
Jennifer Hubert Swan is director of library services and middle school librarian at Little Red School House & Elisabeth Irwin High School in New York City. She is also a visiting assistant professor at Pratt Institute School of Information, where she teaches youth literature and library programming. She blogs at Reading Rants.

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