The Hand on the Wall | book review

The Hand on the Wall

Author: Marueen Johnson
Series: Truly Devious, #3
Format: Hardback
Page Count: 384
Publisher: Katherine Tegan Books
Original Publication Date: 2020
Genre(s): Young adult, Mystery, Contemporary

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

All Stevie Bell wanted to do was solve the old Ellingham mystery. Instead, she becomes faced with real, present-day mysteries—three, to be exact—that all seem to be connected to each other somehow. And the more Stevie looks into it, the more she believes they’re also related to the murders of the past. As the body count rises, Stevie’s not sure who she can trust. But with an incoming snow storm and mounting evidence, Stevie knows she has to solve all of them…before she’s next.

Following the same pattern of the first two books, The Hand on the Wall is told in third-person POV with chapters alternating between past and present. In the past, we go back before the Ellingham kidnappings and see all sorts of perspectives, from Dottie to Frankie, and even the culprit himself. In the present day chapters, we are of course blessed with Stevie’s perspective.

In the previous books, I found little to no flaws. I actually loved the back-and-forth perspectives. I don’t think it really worked this time, though. Probably because I’m not sure this book even needed to exist, or maybe it just needed to be shorter. I don’t know. But I found myself bored with the past. Though it gave me all the information I needed regarding the original mystery, I could have just waited for Stevie’s recap/reveal at the end. The rest was just slow filler. Just saying.

The present day chapters, though, were what really propelled this story forward. As always, Stevie is an amazing, badass, relatable character. I love following her story. Though it was a little slow to get started (mostly due to all the flashbacks thrown in early on), the action and suspense quickly come into play, and that familiar Truly Devious intensity arrives. Seriously, once David shows up about a third of the way in, I tore through the rest of the book.

But back to what I meant RE: Was this book really necessary? Sigh. I wanted it to be. I’m so in love with Truly Devious and The Vanishing Stair… I waited a year for this book! And yet…I didn’t love it as much. I think it was the past-day chapters. I just found myself bored with them. Once they became fewer and farther between, I started to enjoy the book more. But until then…ugh. I will say, this book could have almost done without them. It could have been shorter. Or, the series could have just been a duology: make the first two longer to incorporate the big things from this book. I don’t know.

Though it wasn’t the perfect finale I was hoping for, the ending really does make it all worth it. A little far fetched, but a good reveal and ending overall. I don’t think this book deserves all the one- and two-star reviews I’ve been seeing on Goodreads. I think it could have been better, but overall, I’m satisfied with it. I’m sad to be saying goodbye to Stevie and the gang, but I’m so so glad I got to be with them for three books. I highly recommend this series.

My Rating

***EDIT: We have a book 4 coming out in the summer of 2021!!!!!!!!!!!!!! This is not the last book. Check out The Box in the Woods!

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