The Box In The Woods by Maureen Johnson (400 Pages)
The Box In The Woods Has Stevie Bell Back With A New Crime To Solv
In The Box In The Woods, true crime aficionado Stevie Bell is back in her hometown after solving one of the biggest murder cases at her elite boarding school, Ellingham Academy. Being at home for the summer means having a boring job, so when she gets an invitation to work on a true crime podcast at camp Sunny Pines, she jumps right on it. The owner of Sunny Pines invites Stevie, hoping to pick her brain about what might have happened to the four camp counsellors who were murdered at the site in the late 1970s. The case had never been solved and remained dormant–that is, until Stevie started poking around. When strange and eerie things begin happening around her, she realises that her snooping into the case may be ruffling some feathers, and this time, she may not get out alive.
A Mysterious Case Is Unravelled By A Teenage True Crime Buff
If reading a murder mystery can be described as fun, then The Box In The Woods would be at the top of the list. I absolutely adore the main character, who reminds me of a modern day Nancy Drew, except with added spark. As a teenager with a somewhat unusual hobby of devouring everything true crime, Stevie has a sharp eye and picks up on what may seem like–but are actually far from–mundane things. She has a certain je ne sais quoi that makes her very likeable. Author Maureen Johnson has created a well-rounded and realistic character in her. The fact that Stevie suffers from anxiety and panic attacks helps readers relate to her and understand that, as much as she loves solving crimes, it is very stressful!
The plot is fast-paced and cleverly written. Johnson carefully sprinkles subtle clues along the way that keep your mind churning and your body on the edge of your seat. As with Johnson’s Truly Devious trilogy, the dialogue is excellent and very witty. The dual timelines add depth and mystery to this already very mysterious story–and not many writers can pull something like this off without it being overly confusing. Not only will you be blown away by the “who” in whodunit, but also the “why.”
The Bottom Line: 4/5 Brookie Stars
Stevie is hands down one of my favourite fictional characters. She has a dry sense of humour and witty banter with her friends, making me wish I could be friends with her in real life. I absolutely loved diving into this murder mystery, and while I understand the seriousness and intensity behind solving crimes, it is always fun to have quirky characters to take the edge off a little. I definitely recommend this book for true crime lovers, as well as novice readers who are looking to read a mystery book but are not quite sure where to start. I sincerely hope we see Stevie Bell again, whether in a standalone like this, or a series like Truly Devious.
What is your favourite murder mystery novel? Let us know by emailing us or send us a DM @booknbrunch.
Maiya Alismaili is a 34 year old bookacholic who currently resides in Ottawa. With a background in Human Resources and Psychology, you will often find her people watching. When she doesn’t have her nose in a book, she will likely be exploring the town for new bookstores, rewatching Gilmore Girls, or cleaning to 80s music.
Favorite Book: A Fine Balance By Rohinton Mistry
Favorite Brunch Spot: Cafe Cristal