The Box in the Woods

HarperCollins/­Katherine Tegen. (Truly Devious). Jun. 2021. 400p. Tr $18.99. ISBN 9780063032606.
Gr 9 Up–After solving the Ellingham mystery, Stevie Bell is looking at a long summer at home with her parents, working at the local grocery store. But then she gets an interesting invitation from Carson Buchwald, the new owner of Camp Wonder Falls. The camp was the site of a notorious unsolved mass murder in 1978: Four teenage counselors were killed in the woods, and three of their bodies were found in a box with “Surprise” written inside the lid. Carson is making a podcast about the deaths and wants Stevie to help him solve the case. It beats slicing cheese at the deli counter, and she can bring her friends Janelle and Nate along, so she jumps at the chance. But she’s only just begun looking around when the word “Surprise” appears on the wall above her bed while she and Janelle are sleeping. Someone wants to scare her off, but who? There are still plenty of people in town who were there in 1978, but Stevie can’t shake the feeling that there’s something off about Carson. Stevie and Nate are white, and Janelle is Black.
VERDICT It’s always a pleasure to watch smart, resourceful Stevie piece together a puzzle. Mystery fans will relish this standalone novel in the “Truly Devious” universe.

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