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The Crazy School (Madeline Dare Series #2)

The Crazy School (Madeline Dare Series #2)

3.9 22
by Cornelia Read

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"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

Recently settled in the Berkshire


"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

Recently settled in the Berkshire Mountains in Massachusetts, Madeline Dare now teaches at the Santangelo Academy, a boarding school for disturbed teenagers. But behind its ornate gates, she discovers a disorienting world where students and teachers alike must submit to the founder's bizarre therapeutic regimen. A chilling event confirms Maddie's worst suspicions, leading her to an even darker secret that lies at the academy's very heart. Now cut off from the outside world, Maddie must join forces with a small band of the school's most violently rebellious students—kids who, despite their troubled grip on reality, may well prove to be her only chance of survival.

Editorial Reviews

New York Times Book Review
"How nice it is to hear that rebel voice [of Madeline Dare] again."
Read's plot crackles and pops.
Booklist (starred review)
"Read's plot crackles and pops."
From the Publisher
"How nice it is to hear that rebel voice [of Madeline Dare] again."—New York Times Book Review"

Madeline's deadpan voice, acid wit and psychological depth are the perfect counterpoint to the novels positively Gothic plot... She's a great character, and her creator is a great storyteller. Caustic, gripping and distinctive-intelligent entertainment."—Kirkus"

Read's novel is fast-paced; once the action starts, don't even think about putting it down."—Library Journal (starred review)"

Read's plot crackles and pops."—Booklist (starred review)"

Gutsy."—Publishers Weekly

Marilyn Stasio
The perverse tones of Madeline Dare rake their fingernails across the mental blackboard in The Crazy School. And how nice it is to hear that rebel voice again…While hardly taxing, the whodunit plot is funny and twisted, and it gives Madeline plenty of opportunities to air her caustic views on the evolutionary decline of her social class.
—The New York Times
Publishers Weekly

Ex-California rich girl Madeline Dare returns for a second mystery (after Field of Darkness), set in 1989 at a school for disturbed adolescents in the Berkshires, where the strictures and therapy requirements for the staff are only slightly less stringent than those for the students. After a pair of teenage lovers are poisoned, new teacher Madeline uncovers several dark (and fairly unsurprising) secrets about the school as she searches for the killer. The mystery's murderer and motives soon become obvious, as do the red herrings. It's the unflinching drama and sharply drawn characters that make this book, and both are ably realized by Hilary Huber, who is adept at both male and female voices and a variety of accents. She perfectly evokes Madeline with a mix of tart cynicism and warm compassion. Aside from the vaguely irritating musical strings inserted between chapters, this is fine and involving to listen to. Simultaneous release with the Grand Central hardcover (Reviews, Oct. 15, 2007). (Feb.)

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Library Journal

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. This time Madeline Dare and husband Dean have relocated from Syracuse, NY, to the Berkshires as Madeline has accepted a teaching position at the Santangelo Academy, an alternative school for troubled teenagers. When the book opens, she is slowly adjusting to the quirky rules and therapy regimens required of students and teachers alike. An atmosphere of distrust is pervasive, cultivated by policies that encourage teachers to snitch on one another for such minor transgressions as smoking cigarettes or drinking coffee. Many of the students are prone to violence, and Read does a good job of projecting an air of unease, even before two of the students are murdered and Madeline's own life is threatened. 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.
—Caroline Mann

Kirkus Reviews
Another bitterly amusing mystery from the author of A Field of Darkness (2006). The Santangelo Academy is a school of last resort, an expensive dumping ground for addicted, addled and dangerous teenagers. Madeline Dare is almost as desperate as her students when she starts teaching there: The job that lured her husband from Syracuse to the Berkshires disappears before he even begins work, and a position teaching history is the only employment Madeline can find. She's got other, more existential issues, too-ones that some readers will recall from Madeline's first appearance in Read's debut-and the draconian therapeutic regimen at Santangelo is only exacerbating her emotional unease. Having been raised amidst the baroque self-help culture of California in the '70s, Madeline is both familiar with and deeply skeptical of the school founder's unorthodox methods. Her cynicism turns to something deeper and more terrible, though, when she suspects that the supposed suicide of two students was actually murder. Her fear and outrage intensify when she becomes a suspect. Like the many caterers, quilters and cat-lovers who inhabit mystery fiction, Madeline has a knack for amateur sleuthing, but there's nothing cozy about this novel (the violence is occasionally spectacular, and there is liberal use of the F-word). And, like the oft-imperiled heroines of romantic suspense, Madeline has a gift for getting into trouble, but Read does not use danger as an impetus for crazy sex (Madeline is securely, sedately married, and when she and her husband go to bed together, it's for sleeping). Rather, Read borrows elements from different genres to craft a strange, compelling narrative, one that frequentlyapproaches-but never quite descends to-the 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 stubborn-but fragile-integrity, 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 distinctive-intelligent entertainment.

Product Details

Grand Central Publishing
Publication date:
Madeline Dare Series , #2
Sales rank:
Product dimensions:
5.20(w) x 7.90(h) x 1.00(d)

Read an Excerpt

The Crazy School

By Cornelia Read

Grand Central Publishing

Copyright © 2008 Cornelia Read
All right reserved.

ISBN: 978-0-446-58259-9

Chapter One

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

The other six kids went quiet, looking from him to me-teen-angst scratching and hair twirling and pencil chewing arrested for once.

He cracked his gum, noise reverberating off the jaundice-yellow cinder block.

It was an ugly room. Demoralizing. I didn't want to be in it, either, only you're not supposed to say that when you're the grown-up.

The trees outside were losing their last Robert Frost touches of burnished brass and copper-sorry leaves ready to drop from maples and elms and whatever the hell else kind of East Coast trees I still didn't know the names of, twelve years after leaving California.

I dragged my eyes back from the window and crossed my arms. "Did you read the damn chapter?"

Forchetti smirked and pincered the spit-warm raisin of Juicy Fruit off his tongue. He held it up, pretending to sight down the damn thing, straight at my forehead.

I stared right back at his narrow face, at those baby features overwhelmed by black eyebrows he hadn't yet grown into. "Did you?"

Without looking down, Forchetti opened his copy of I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings at a random page. He dropped the little gum wad inside and mashed the paperback shut against his chair's faux-wood paddle of desk.

"I wouldn't read this piece of shit," he said, "if you dropped to your knees and blew me."

Wiesner hissed, "Shut the fuck up, Foreskin."

Good-looking kid, Wiesner: six-five, white-blond hair slicked back, gray eyes with long dark lashes. He was just back from eight days in county lockup, after holding a teacher and a couple of students hostage with a carving knife so he could call his girlfriend long-distance on the principal's office phone. Now I had him for two out of three classes.

Forchetti dropped his eyes to the carpet.

"She is a shitty teacher," he whined, "and you owe a dollar to the Rape Crisis Fund for saying the F-word, Wiesner."

Which was true. Big-time rule here at the Santangelo Academy, because Dr. David Santangelo felt that "fuck" was a word fundamentally linked to violence against women.

It was, in fact, the only word the students weren't allowed to say. Or the teachers.

Wiesner pulled a crisp five from his pocket. "Four to go, then." He lifted his right hand, waggling the digits in Forchetti's direction.

"Madeline is not a fucking shitty teacher," he said, folding his index finger down on the stressed word. "You, on the other hand, are a fucking"-middle finger-"suckbag fuck"-ring finger- "and if you don't leave her alone, I'm going to fucking"- pinkie- "stomp your skinny ferret ass the next time I catch you alone in the showers."

Wiesner wadded up the money and tossed it at Forchetti's feet. "Be a sweetheart," he said. "Put that in Santangelo's little jar for me."

Forchetti blushed, but he picked the bill up off the floor and put it in his pocket.

I would have told Wiesner to lay off threatening a foot-shorter kid he had fifty pounds on, except Patti Gonzaga started growling, which was what happened the first week, right before she chunked her chair at my head.

The lunch bell went off, thank God. They stampeded into the hallway, all except Wiesner, who just stretched his legs out, still in his seat and grinning.

One last door slammed down the hall.

He ambled over and sat on the edge of my desk. "Penny for your thoughts."

"I think you'll be late for lunch."

"Figured I'd walk you over," he said.

"I still have to do everybody's marks."

We were supposed to rate how each kid behaved, right at the end of class. Forchetti'd racked up three straight weeks of zeroes-winner and still champion.

Wiesner lounged back on an elbow. "I can wait."

I pulled open the top drawer, looking for a pen. "They'll get all pissed if you're not there for the meds."

"You just seem kind of shaky," he said, voice all soothing. "I want to make sure you feel okay."

The drawer was full of crap, souvenirs of my predecessors-paper clips, barrettes, dental floss, half a roll of TUMS, and a screwdriver.

Teachers left this place in a hurry.

Wiesner leaned over, perusing the contents.

I looked up. "Of course there isn't a single fucking pen."

He smiled, extracting a Bic from his jacket.

"Trade you for that screwdriver," he said. "I need to make a phone call."

Wiesner and I angled across the lawn toward the dining hall. I didn't want to get there. I wanted to cut off into the woods and have a smoke, alone, only I couldn't because the other teachers would have smelled it on me and narked.

I shoved a hand deeper into the pocket of my leather jacket, fishing through its torn lining to grip my crumpled pack of Camel straights.

I hadn't even thought about cigarettes since college. Now they were the focus of my existence, along with caffeine. We weren't allowed to have that, either, which didn't stop me from sucking down thick-walled cups of the tepid institutional decaf, hoping in vain they'd missed scrubbing the kick from a bean or two.

The Santangelo Academy air was crisp and fresh after a week of rain, edged with wood smoke and rotting leaves. There was even a sweet breath of cider drifting up from the weed-choked orchard, planted back when this had all been some Bostonian nouveau magnate's country place, before the Civil War.

It was beautiful here in the Berkshires. I'd give it all that much.

"I like that Caged Bird book," said Wiesner.

He was lying. I shouldn't have cared.

"The lady who wrote it," I said, "I knew her brother Bailey. He used to come to our house."

I was going to tell Wiesner about this one time when I was little, maybe 1970, and Bailey saw me cutting dry rot out of a tree trunk in our backyard with a paring knife. He told me he'd bring me a switchblade as a present the next weekend he came down from Berkeley. Said he wanted to make sure I'd be okay "come the revolution," since I was pretty hip for a white kid.

I never got the knife. He never got the revolution.

Wiesner nudged my upper arm with his fist and said, "So, d'you do him, her brother?"

"Chrissake, Wiesner ..."

He grinned down at me. "Can't kid a kidder."

"I was, like, eight years old."

"Sure," he said, laughing now. "Sure you were."

I stopped walking. "Seriously,"

He gave me a pat on the head.

"What the hell kind of thing is that to even say?" I said, batting his hand away. "To anyone, let alone a teacher. I mean, would you pull that shit with Mindy or Gerald or Tim?"

"Do I look like an idiot?"

"So why me?"

"How about because you look good in that little skirt, and you're blonde with green eyes, and you're wearing cowboy boots, and it's a gorgeous day."

I rolled my eyes. Started walking away.

"Are you sure you want to know?" he asked, behind me now.


"Turn around."

I sped up.

"Fine with me," he said. "I'd just as soon check out your ass from here."

I turned around.

Wiesner was still smiling

"We're late," I said. "If you want to say something that's not merely about pissing me off, I'll give you ten seconds."

He looked at the ground, a little embarrassed. "I say shit like that to you, Madeline, because I know I can, okay?"

I was touched. "Because you trust me."

"No, because you're too whacked to maintain appropriate boundaries."

He raised his eyes again, but I looked away. At the trees and stuff.

I'd always despised the shrink-sponsored murder of language- all precision and metaphor and beauty boiled away until there was nothing left but carbonized lumps of jargon.

"You have issues around authority," he continued. "I figure that's why you're here."

"That's why you're here, Wiesner. I'm here because it's a job."

He shrugged. "When you're ready to own your shit, you'll know why you're really here. That's what this place does."

"Cha," I said. "'Good for the disease.'"

"What the hell is that supposed to mean?"

"It's from this book," I said. "Magic Mountain."

"Books don't help," he said.

"You'd be surprised," I said, even though I'd never managed to finish reading it myself, back at Sarah Lawrence.

He took my elbow and started us walking. "Can't kid a kidder."

Sometimes you can, Wiesner.

I was here because I'd killed a guy. And I owned the hell out of that.

The fact he'd been trying to kill me at the time hadn't helped me sleep any better since.

Neither had this place.


Excerpted from The Crazy School by Cornelia Read Copyright © 2008 by Cornelia Read. Excerpted by permission.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.

Meet the Author

Cornelia Read grew up in New York, California, and Hawaii. She describes herself as a reformed debutante who currently lives in Berkeley. This is her second novel. Her website is www.corneliaread.com.

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Crazy School (Madeline Dare Series #2) 3.9 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 22 reviews.
Sean_From_OHIO More than 1 year ago
Cornelia Read has created such a fun interesting character in Madeline Dare. Her voice is really unique and the setting being the 80s add to her personality as well. In this sequel to Field Of Darkness, the only thing that relates to that book is Madeline and her mostly off page husband. That's something that I didn't love here. This book could be almost completely comprehended without any knowledge of the previous book. While that is great for new readers I wanted a little more a connection. Also, this book's crux didn't really come to be until well into the book. It seemed to tread water for quite some time but luckily Madeline is intriguing enough to not make that a terrible thing. Overall, this a really good book but I enjoyed the first book more.
Guest More than 1 year ago
From the first pages of The Crazy School, the reader is picked up and dropped into a world far from what most would consider the norm. The story begins at Santangelo Academy in the Berkshire Mountains of Massachusetts. The Academy is modeled after a real life school, that existed from 1978 though 2004, called DeSisto at Stockbridge School. The Protagonist is Madeline Dare, who recently began a teaching job at the school. At a glance the campus may appear pristine, but appearances can be deceiving. One quickly finds that life at this school is very different from a regular educational facility. Teachers are referred to by their first names, cursing is common place, and the majority of students are heavily medicated and suffer from severe mental problems. As the plot builds, more and more is revealed about the estranged founder, David Santangelo, and his bizarre polices. Because the majority of the students at the academy suffer from mental disorders, many of the school¿s activities are centered around so called therapeutic practices. However, few would consider this school to be professionally sound in its techniques. The therapists violate doctor-patient confidentiality. David Santangelo forces all students and teachers to sit in a circle for days at a time, waiting for confessions of wrongdoings. These practices are considered therapeutic. As Madeline begins to see the extent of insanity at this school, she befriends Wiesner, Forchetti, Mooney and Fay, students at the school. Her determination to save them and others from the destructive forces at work at the schools continues to grow. After it becomes clear to Madeline that a terrible tragedy isn¿t what it seems, she pushes harder to get answers, answers that could easily cost her life. The Crazy School will have readers tearing through every page, as they join Madeline in her search for closure, and revenge.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Accidentally started reading this because someone brought it to work. I was hooked instantly. I googled it to realize it was the second book. Went on here, bought all 4 and read them back to back. Good series. It's kept me interested.
JustMyTwoCents More than 1 year ago
Don't waste your time or your money!!! I can't believe this book got quite a few good ratings. The premise is ridiculous--a last resort boarding school in the Berkshires for troubled kids--but it appears the State does not check into anyone's credentials for teaching nor especially for medicating their student body. A psychiatrist or analyst who is unaware that they aren't supposed to share private session information with others. I could go on and on. The only thing more ridiculous than the premise is the dialogue., especially of the main character Madeline. When was the last time you heard a woman say, "I had to piss like a race horse?"  And why she threw that in as the last sentence in a chapter was even weirder, since it had nothing to do with the story. I rarely give less than three stars for books, but this one was the exception. I only hope this book was an aberration and her other works are better. 
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
From the first page, this book is purely amazing. It usually takes me a while to get through a book, but I finished this in about three days because it's just that good.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
ThePurpleDahlia More than 1 year ago
I've had this book laying around the house for almost a year now and just today, as it was rather rainy, decided to pick it up. I did not expect to plow through all 300 plus pages in less than 12 hours, to say the least. I was quickely drawn in by the subject matter as somene who is a psych major and hopes to in the near future, work with emotionally troubled teenagers. Besides that I love a great mystery, so this book ticked both of my boxes for fiction prose. I was also quite (happily) surprised that this was based in part on a real "crazy school" as I'm also a history buff. I can surely say that I will be reading Cornelia Read's other two books that feature Madeline as the main character as soon as I can get my hands on them.
gettin_picky More than 1 year ago
A great series of books about a smart, witty, mostly broke, loyal character, Madeline Dare who always seems to stumble into situations that put her in danger and she feels compelled to help the authorities solve. I love this series although I do feel that the she goes a bit overboard with the "f" bomb. I don't mind the use of the word but sometimes in this book it felt forced. There is a lot of
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This book was gripping while still being startingly funny. I tore through this, just because I couldn't bear to put it down. I hadn't realized this was the second book, but it didn't seem to matter all that much. I can't wait to get the first and third, and apparently now the fourth, books in this series.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I didn't really like this book it is kinda a waste of time. The story line was good but it was way too slow. When it finally got up to date it was way to fast. I wouldn't recommend this book unless you have a lot of time on your hands. I am a 13 year old who read Breaking Dawn in 2 weeks with 700 something pages and this book has 326 pages and took me 2 months because it got no where.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
So, I didn't call in sick to work or anything, but I did finish this book within 24 hours. I actually really liked that the whodunit speculation took up only the third third (intentional) of the book. A truly novel novel (I agree, that was too much) with engaging secondary characters--a few of them even live to attend the funerals of the rest!
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Slessman More than 1 year ago
THE CRAZY SCHOOL Cornelia Read Grand Central Publishing ISBN: 078-0-446-19820-2 $13.99 - Paperback 352 pages Reviewer: Annie Slessman Wondering how she is to survive the daily madness at Santangelo Academy, Madeline Dare's only saving grace is her mentally disturbed students. Main character of Cornelia Read's latest, THE CRAZY SCHOOL, Madeline finds it hard to trust her co-workers. When Madeline finds that she trusts her students more than her co-workers she finds herself immersed in their lives to the extent of being their confidant and keeper of secrets. When two of her students die questionable deaths, it is Madeline the police turn to as their murderer. In the first half of this book, Read builds her characterizations to perfection. A reader actually feels they are participating in Madeline's classroom and will have the same distaste for the school's food as their hero, Madeline. The second half of the book builds an intriguing plot that takes a reader to a satisfying end. Rounding out the story, Read uses one of the most ghastly cult events in history to support and round out her story. 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.
Guest More than 1 year ago
I was fortunate enough to attend The DeSisto School in West Stockbridge, MA, next to Tanglewood, in the late 1970s and early 1980s before it truly became The Crazy School. Cornelia Read's detailed account of how it was for a teacher was not privy to most students there, and thus fascinating to learn about. Accurate down to the minutiae, Read satisfies us all--alums as well as educators-- curious to reminisce with out-loud laughter, and probably some tears as well. The lingo, the rituals, and the worship have been craftily woven into another Dare-ing mystery. Every chapter's end leads to unexpected winding turns, much like Route 183 itself. And Read's hipster voice lends a breezy coolness and vivid color--crisp as the air in the Fall and Winter of the Berkshires Mountains.
harstan More than 1 year ago
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. --- Harriet Klausner