The Box in the Woods, by Maureen Johnson (audio)

Stevie’s first year at Ellingham is done, and she’s home for the summer. Her fame has died down and she’s working a horribly boring job when the owner of a summer camp contacts her. This summer camp was the site of four unsolved murders in 1978, now rebranded to separate itself from those decades-old horrors. But the new owner wants to make a podcast about the murders, and he wants Stevie’s help to try to solve the cold case. When she’s allowed to bring her friends to camp with her, Stevie decides that the call of true crime overpowers her distaste for the outdoors, and off she goes to “Murder Camp.”

This was a great dip back into the Truly Devious world after the trilogy finalized. Got to see all my favorite characters again and see where they are after the school year ended. Stevie has to contend with a lot of ethical issues here. This isn’t a cold case like the Ellingham murders, so old that no one is left alive to remember the pain of the survivors. This town is full of survivors, friends and family of the murdered teenagers, and the new camp owner is a bit oblivious to the emotional impacts of his podcast. Stevie is left to navigate the balance between tact and getting answers, all while doing a made up job for the camp as her excuse for being there.

An entirely standalone novel, you don’t have to read the first three to enjoy this one, and the story is full self-contained. Interestingly, one of the things that bothered me about the first books – the dump of exposition at the end – didn’t bother me as much this time. It’s very much in the style of Agatha Christie, often giving crucial information in that exposition that makes the mystery impossible to solve otherwise. This isn’t like modern-day mystery novels where all the clues are buried along the way. There is literally missing information until the very end. That in itself makes the book a different kind of experience, and I think that since I went into it knowing that this might be the case, I was able to enjoy that particular kind of experience more. It makes me want to go back and reread the original trilogy.

Performance: Like the originals, the audiobook is read by Kate Rudd. Unlike the originals, I’ve actually started to enjoy Rudd’s narration. It drove me crazy at first, but then I got used to it, and now it seems to fit. An acquired taste, maybe.

About Amanda

Agender empty-nester filling my time with cats, books, fitness, and photography. She/they.
This entry was posted in 2021, Prose, Young Adult and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink.

1 Response to The Box in the Woods, by Maureen Johnson (audio)

  1. Michelle says:

    I never finished the trilogy and was SO glad Johnson kept all spoilers out of this one. I mean, I know she solved the mystery, but that was always a given. It was fun to get back into Stevie’s world and made me want to finally go back and finish the last two books in the trilogy.

    Liked by 1 person

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