The Hand on the Wall by Maureen Johnson Review

The Hand on the WallMaureen Johnson | Harper Collins| Pub: 1/21/20

“I don’t know how to tell where it all starts or stops. It’s like a loop.”


What a wild ride. WILD. If I would have known how incredible this series was earlier on, I would NEVER have waited this long to read it. The Hand on the Wall was the last book in the Truly Devious series, and it did not disappoint. More death, more secrets and a whole bunch of crimes solved.

I was right about some things from earlier on in the series and I had the last book narrowed down to 3 suspects. It was one of them but not who I would have thought, and it definitely did not go down the way I had anticipated.

Besides being completely awed by this intricate mystery, I have to talk about Stevie. Stevie is our main character. High school student with crippling anxiety and an obsession to solve the Ellingham case. Stevie thinks she is wrongfully accepted into the school. She feels she isn’t gifted enough, like her fellow classmates. They build machines and write novels and create YouTube shows that spark deals in Hollywood. This makes Stevie feel like it is some hoax.

I cannot even begin to explain how I can relate to that. Relate to feeling not enough. Like if something good happens to me then it was an accident. Anxiety is a hell of a thing. Yet our young Stevie applied to Ellingham to solve a 75-year-old crime and did so. In doing so, she also solved all the current crimes. She overcame her anxiety and she prevailed. While she may be a fictional character, I hope that whoever reads this series understands that they too can overcome their anxiety. That they are worthy and special, and their anxiety does not define them and their limits.

Synopsis (Credit: Goodreads)

Ellingham Academy must be cursed. Three people are now dead. One, a victim of either a prank gone wrong or a murder. Another, dead by misadventure. And now, an accident in Burlington has claimed another life. All three in the wrong place at the wrong time. All at the exact moment of Stevie’s greatest triumph . . .

She knows who Truly Devious is. She’s solved it. The greatest case of the century.

At least, she thinks she has. With this latest tragedy, it’s hard to concentrate on the past. Not only has someone died in town, but David disappeared of his own free will and is up to something. Stevie is sure that somehow—somehow—all these things connect. The three deaths in the present. The deaths in the past. The missing Alice Ellingham and the missing David Eastman. Somewhere in this place of riddles and puzzles there must be answers.

Then another accident occurs as a massive storm heads toward Vermont. This is too much for the parents and administrators. Ellingham Academy is evacuated. Obviously, it’s time for Stevie to do something stupid. It’s time to stay on the mountain and face the storm—and a murderer.

In the tantalizing finale to the Truly Devious trilogy, New York Times bestselling author Maureen Johnson expertly tangles her dual narrative threads and ignites an explosive end for all who’ve walked through Ellingham Academy.

New York Times bestselling author Maureen Johnson delivers the witty and pulse-pounding conclusion to the Truly Devious series as Stevie Bell solves the mystery that has haunted Ellingham Academy for over 75 years.

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