From the acclaimed author of A FIELD OF DARKNESS comes another compelling novel featuring the acerbic and memorable voice of ex-debutante Madeline Dare. Madeline Dare has finally escaped rust-belt Syracuse, New York, for the lush Berkshire Mountains in Massachusetts. After her husband's job offer falls through, Maddie signs on as a teacher at the Santangelo Academy, a boarding school for disturbed teenagers. Behind the academy's ornate gates, she discovers a disturbing realm where students and teachers alike must submit to the founder's bizarre therapeutic regimen.
From day one, Maddie feels uneasy about smooth-talking Dr. Santangelo but when she questions his methods, she's appalled to find that her fellow teachers would rather turn on each other than stand up for themselves, much less protect the students in their care. A chilling event confirms Maddie's worst suspicions, then hints at an even darker secret history, one that twines through the academy's very heart.
Cut off from the outside world, Maddie must join forces with a small band of the school's most violently rebellious students-kids whose troubled grip on reality may well prove to be her only chance of salvation.
Available in audio book from Blackstone Audio. The audio version of THE CRAZY SCHOOL is performed by acclaimed voice actor Hillary Huber, whose outstanding narration of Cornelia's A FIELD OF DARKNESS garnered a 2007 Audie Award nomination in the Mystery category.
Grand Central Publishing paperback, February 2010, ISBN: 978-0446198202
Grand Central Publishing hardcover, January 2008, ISBN: 978-0446582599
"Another bitterly amusing mystery from the author of A Field of Darkness (2006). Read borrows elements from different genres to craft a strange, compelling narrative, one that frequently approachesbut never quite descends tothe excesses of melodrama. Madeline's deadpan voice, acid wit and psychological depth are the perfect counterpoint to the novel's positively Gothic plot. In her shadowed complexity and stubbornbut fragileintegrity, Madeline resembles many of the genre's most enduring protagonists. She's a great character, and her creator is a great storyteller. Caustic, gripping and distinctiveintelligent entertainment."
"Read's mystery debut, A Field of Darkness, was well received by reviewers and nominated for an Edgar Award; only a year later, she has an equally
compelling new offering. Read's novel is fast-paced; once the action starts, don't even think about putting it down. The motives behind the murders are complex, and the ultimate heroes and bad guys are a total surprise. Strongly recommended for all public libraries."
"There's madness in western Massachusetts in Read's smart second offering starring witheringly witty exdebutante Madeline Dare. Edgar-nominee Read has rendered another swiftly plotted mystery peppered with wonderful one-liners. Madeline may be the only amateur sleuth who would describe the difficulties of solving a murder as being as 'exhausting as trying to parse that old riddle about getting the goat and the wolf and the head of cabbage safely across some river in your too-small rowboat, only worse this time, because Kafka kept lighting the oars on fire and laughing his ass off.' This series belongs on the must-read list of anyone who enjoys mystery mixed with comedy."
Booklist (starred review)
"Edgar-finalist Read's gutsy second Madeline Dare novel ...The book's first half focuses on characterthe woefully misguided souls who teach at Santangelo, the students in all their dysfunctional glorybut the action picks up when Mooney and Fay die from drinking poisoned punch after a birthday party at the Farm, and Dare is arrested for her role in preparing the fatal beverage. While some characters, like the social-climbing parents who drop in between vacations, verge on stereotype, Read graphically depicts the depressing underside of a supposedly elite private school."
"Cornelia Read's The Crazy School is part Gothic, part academic farce and part homage to anti-authoritarian tales such as Ken Kesey's One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest, in which we readers are encouraged to root for the inmates who temporarily rule the asylum... Madeline's edgy narrative voice lingers long after the last scream has been scrum."
Maureen Corrigan, The Washington Post
"Cornelia Read's A Field of Darkness was a blow your mind debut novel. The Crazy School is even better. It's witty, it's dark, it's disturbing and it will stick in my mind for ages.... What made A Field of Darkness an exceptional debutthe feisty and funny voice of Madeline, combined with an eclectic supporting castcontinues here with interest. Lesser writers than Read simply wouldn't have got away with what is in effect a character-driven book. The crime plot is fine, incidentally, but it makes me wonder what Read would do if she broke out of the constraints of the genre fieldI suspect she'd soar even higher. In less confident and talented hands a lot of the dialogue would be smart-arsed and gum up the plot. Here it adds perfectly to the atmosphere.... The Crazy School is apparently based on truth. I read it with horrified fascination, like picking at a scab that you know is going to bleed and hurt like hell. This is one sensational book."
ReviewingTheEvidence.com (read the full review)
"Madeline Dare is like that wild smart-mouthed friend who blows into town, sweeps you off into a knife-edge adventure you never saw coming, and makes you laugh out loud even at the darkest, most intense moments. I can't wait to meet her again."
Tana French, New York Times bestselling author of In the Woods
"Read holds her own as a storyteller. She takes hold of a reader at the get-go and doesn't let go until the last word."
Annie Slessman, Midwest Book Review