Series: Truly Devious #4
by Maureen Johnson
Published by HarperCollins Publishers
Buy on Amazon
After solving the case of Truly Devious, Stevie Bell investigates her first mystery outside of Ellingham Academy in this spine-chilling and hilarious stand-alone mystery from New York Times bestselling author Maureen Johnson.
Amateur sleuth Stevie Bell needs a good murder. After catching a killer at her high school, she’s back at home for a normal (that means boring) summer.
But then she gets a message from the owner of Sunny Pines, formerly known as Camp Wonder Falls—the site of the notorious unsolved case, the Box in the Woods Murders. Back in 1978, four camp counselors were killed in the woods outside of the town of Barlow Corners, their bodies left in a gruesome display. The new owner offers Stevie an invitation: Come to the camp and help him work on a true crime podcast about the case.
Stevie agrees, as long as she can bring along her friends from Ellingham Academy. Nothing sounds better than a summer spent together, investigating old murders.
But something evil still lurks in Barlow Corners. When Stevie opens the lid on this long-dormant case, she gets much more than she bargained for. The Box in the Woods will make room for more victims. This time, Stevie may not make it out alive.
I’ve been on a mystery trope binge. Especially doing a reread of the first three books in the series.
The Box in the Woods is sold as standalone and I didn’t get why that was until I read the book. It’s still part of the Truly Devious world, our main characters all appear, but since the Ellingham case was solved, Stevie is no longer investigating Truly Devious.
We catch up with a miserable Stevie working her summer job at a local deli. Things with her parents seem to be ok since Stevie now has a boyfriend. UGH! WTF is up with her mom…priorities…
Anyway, she’s contacted by Carson who is the new owner of Camp Wonder Falls which is famously known for the four murders that happened in the summer of 1978. Stevie being Stevie, she obviously was familiar with the case but not as much as she had been with the Ellingham case.
Carson offers to give Stevie and her friends jobs at the camp as a cover for them going to investigate the murders. Immediately she calls Nate, Janelle, and David and all but David agree to go. David was cutoff by his dad and had to finish off high school remotely and is now working on a campaign for a rival of his father’s. But he does agree to visit.
I had a bit of a hard time getting into the story, not sure why, but once I was in, I was hooked. I do have to say that the flow of the story was a bit predictable. It follows the flow from the previous books. Also for some reason, maybe because I read mostly at night, this one really creeped me out and made me paranoid!
Stevie can be a hot mess and most of the time she doesn’t even notice and when she does, she has an inner debate with herself and her true self always wins, even if it’s the Stevie wearing the same shirt for days…
My Nate…I’m still obsessed with him…throughout the book, Nate was his old self but we got to see him softening up with his friends, he also divulged a little personal info, and SMILED!
So the book covers the intro of the murders, Stevie gets involved, she does her thing, struggles with the case, has some sort of personal struggle, then things start clicking and she solves the case.
Not sure if the series is over or if it’ll continue in a standalone way but with David’s involvement and his future up in the air, things were left open to continue so I hope Maureen does!
Also, I need more Nate😍
Interview with Maureen
- In one to two sentences, tell readers what THE BOX IN THE WOODS is about?
In the summer of 1978, four camp counselors went out in the woods one night—their bodies were found the next morning. The case is known as The Box in the Woods murders, and it was never solved. In the present day, the camp’s new owner wants to make a true crime show about the case with Stevie Bell’s help. When Stevie and her friends arrive, it seems like this will be a pleasant summer of outdoor activities (not that Stevie likes those—she is generally against them) and researching a famous cold case. But the case is not so cold. The quiet town of Barlow Corners, where the camp is located, has some deep and dark secrets.
- What was the inspiration behind THE BOX IN THE WOODS?
This is Stevie Bell’s first case after the events of the Truly Devious series, which ends with the school year. I knew I likely wanted something that happened over the summer. I also wanted somewhere I could bring the characters back together. I also felt like the 70s were the next historical period I wanted to work with for the cold case. All of those things add up to camp. I didn’t have to think about it very long. Camp was the right setting. Murder, remote locations, serial killers…that’s camp for you.
- Do you have any writing quirks or superstitions when it comes to writing?
No superstitions, and probably tons of quirks. I don’t actually know what my quirks are? The writing process is messy and structured at the same time. It’s controlled chaos. I embrace different methods!
- Favorite childhood book?
A hard call, but probably The Westing Game.
- What is the take-away message you want readers to know about THE BOX IN THE WOODS?
This is a stand-alone murder mystery! If you like true crime or classic mysteries, there is something here for you.
Enter to win one (1) finished copy of The Box in the Woods by Maureen Johnson! Open USA only. There will be 1 winner.
Giveaway starts: Tuesday, June 15, 2021
Giveaway ends: Tuesday, June 22, 2021 at 12:00 a.m. CST