The Crazy School
Grand Central, Jan 2008, $23.99
In 1989 in the Berkshires in western Massachusetts, twenty-six year old Madeline Dare obtains a position as a history teacher at Santangelo Academy “therapeutic boarding school”. The former Long Island debutante and married Syracuse fluff reporter knows she will have problems adjusting to her new environs, but is unaware how much.
Headmaster David Santangelo runs the academy with an iron fist allowing no room for mistakes; offenders are sent to “the farm” for punishment. Madeline’s distressed student Mooney LeChance informs her that he believes his girlfriend, Fay Perry is pregnant. Although she knows she is expected to report this to Mr. Santangelo, Madeline agrees to keep the couple’s revelation secret for now especially as the teen duo is serving time at the Farm. However, Mooney and Fay die after drinking party punch. The police arrest Dare as she allegedly prepared the poisoned drink.
THE CRAZY SCHOOL is an interesting amateur sleuth tale that reads like two novels in one. The first part of the book provides insight into those at the Santangelo Academy as if the story line is an exposé character study of the negative elements of a private school. Somewhere towards the middle of the novel, the plot veers into a murder mystery. Although distinct, the parts ultimately blend together as Dare dares to prove her innocence while exposing A FIELD OF DARKNESS that engulfs the school.