Thursday, September 16, 2010

The Crazy School by Cornelia Read

Title: The Crazy School
Author: Cornelia Read
ISBN: 9780446582599
Publisher: Grand Central Publishing, 2008
Hardcover, 336 pages
Genre: Amateur Sleuth, #2 Madeline Dare
Rating: A-
Source: Paperback Swap

First Line: Halfway to Christmas, Forchetti stated the obvious: "You can't teach for shit."

This second outing of Madeline Dare finds her escaping the rust belt of Syracuse, New York, for the Berkshire Mountains in Massachusetts. Her husband's job offer fell through, and Madeline is now teaching at the Santangelo Academy, a boarding school for disturbed teenagers.

From day one, Madeline has felt uneasy about Dr. Santangelo, but whenever she questions some of his rather bizarre methods, she finds her fellow teachers more willing to turn on each other than protect themselves or their students. A tragic event has Madeline joining forces with a small band of the school's most rebellious students in an effort to save them all.

I loved Madeline's irreverent voice in A Field of Darkness, and nothing has changed in this second book. Madeline is equally adept at jokes or description, and I particularly liked this one of her "sick-unto-death" husband:

Dean drew the blanket closer around his head and pressed his lips together, looking for all the world like an old woman disappointed by the sight of Ellis Island after a month in steerage.

After reading about Dr. Santangelo and several of the other teachers and mentally joining in with Madeline and her very small band of like-minded teachers, I had to know what in the world was going on at that school-- and how it could even be open. Once again Madeline had me well and truly hooked by her dilemma. When tragedy strikes (as she feared it would), the school has such a reputation that she knows she's going to have to conduct her own investigation if justice is going to be served:

"If the police think they did," I said, "they're not going to look at anything else. Because then it's just a couple of crazy kids up at that crazy school. That's not what happened. They have to know."

Uncovering the truth behind Dr. Santangelo and his academy, seeing Madeline interacting with her husband and friends, and watching her insist on doing what was best for the students all made for a very satisfying trip back to the early 1990s. Madeline is the type of character that has captured my imagination with her wit and perseverance, and I look forward to reading more about her.


  1. I really like this series. I read this one back in 2008 and thought it was a good one. Madeline is an interesting character, but appealing to me. I enjoyed the 3rd book, INVISIBLE BOY, this year I think.

  2. Kay-- I may not agree with everything Madeline says ans does, but I love her voice. I'm looking forward to reading Invisible Boy, so I'm glad to see that you enjoyed it.

  3. I'm glad I read your review! I have this book with a totally different cover - it has a butterfly on the front - and for some reason I thought it was a children's book.

  4. I am not familiar with this series but it sounds kind of different, which I like.

  5. Cathy - Thanks for this review. It sounds really compelling and as you say, different. Intriguing....

  6. I like the story with this one, very intriguing.

  7. Kathy-- I'm glad I could set the record straight for you, too!

    Lola-- Different can be very good. :)

    Margot-- It's all about the main character, I think. If you don't care for Madeline, you're not going to care for the book or the series.

    Kris-- It is. :)


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