The Hand on the Wall – Maureen Johnson

Title: The Hand on the Wall
Series: Truly Devious #3
: Maureen Johnson
Genre: YA, Mystery
: January 21st, 2020 (Katherine Tegen Books)

: 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.


“At some point, the gun placed in act one goes off, usually in the third act. That was one of the most important parts of being a detective:
keep your eye on the gun.”

Stevie Bell has done it. She’s solved the cold case that has baffled investigators for decades and figured out the mystery of Truly Devious, and the instigator of the Ellingham kidnappings. But there are still pieces of the puzzle missing. What happened to Alice Ellingham? What is the truth behind the three present day deaths and are they really as accidental as they seem? And might there be a link between Alice’s fate and the strange happenings at Ellingham Academy decades later? Stevie certainly thinks so, but before she can pursue the clues further, the school is evacuated due to yet another accident, not to mention an oncoming snowstorm, and determined not to return to her old life, she stays on the mountain to solve this mystery once and for all. There’s a murderer to be caught.

“It was time to gather the suspects, like they did
at the end of every mystery.”

The long awaited finale is finally here, and it is as gripping and enjoyable as the previous two! The Hand on the Wall continues to alternate between timelines and this time, we get to see some new POVs in the past, the most interesting of which I found to be George Marsh’s who we now know was the culprit behind it all. There are still so many secrets left to unravel and what happened to Alice turned out to be the least surprising of them and it was fun trying to figure out how Stevie would find these facts in present day. One huge secret was given away within the first few chapters and I thought it would’ve been more fun if they’d have held on to that one until the end – it would have been the perfect final twist.

I really enjoyed how Stevie put the pieces together and seeing her thought process throughout it all. She isn’t the most relatable of characters, as she is always so focused on the case at hand and can seem a bit detached – but that can apply to more than one detective novel I’ve read. What’s important though, is that this series continues to keep things on a very realistic level, a good thing, as there are quite enough twists in the plot as is.

While the reveal was definitely a surprise, the story, in my opinion wasn’t as gripping as the previous two books, mainly because The Vanishing Stair, in particular, is a very hard act to follow, and for the first time ever, I have to say that the middle book in a trilogy is my favourite. Regardless, it was fun to see the final pieces fall into place in both timelines and the murderer revealed – someone whom I’d never have guessed it to be. Then again, I was way too caught up in the story to try any deductions of my own! This final installment in the Truly Devious trilogy is a must read for this year and mystery fans are sure to enjoy this marvellous and thoroughly satisfying conclusion to the series!

Have you read this book? Let me know in the comments below!
Other reviews in this series:
Book 1: Truly Devious
Book 2: The Vanishing Stair


9 thoughts on “The Hand on the Wall – Maureen Johnson

  1. Lindsey January 29, 2020 / 8:49 am

    This isn’t a series that I’ve come across before but it looks like good fun. It’s a pity that the final book wasn’t as strong as previous ones but still sounds like an enjoyable read. Great review!

    Liked by 1 person

    • journeyintofantasy February 2, 2020 / 3:05 pm

      I used to be a huge Nancy Drew and Hardy Boys fan as a kid, and I love a good mystery novel to this day, particularly series. I’ve always felt there aren’t that many in YA of late to be honest, so this was a great one to follow these past few years!

      Liked by 1 person

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