Read's latest reconnects readers with Madeline Dare, the protagonist of
her debut novel (2006's A Field of Darkness). Her sophomore effort resonates with chilling, eerie suspense and a shocking, engrossing story. This is an evenly paced mystery that gradually escalates to a mesmerizing conclusion.

After a student at the Santangelo Academy, a boarding school for difficult adolescents in Massachusetts' Berkshire region, punches his hand through a window and is sequestered, teacher Madeline Dare is surprised to learn that the student and his girlfriend supposedly committed suicide. But the truth is that they were killed.

Madeline believes she was drugged that evening, but when she talks to police, she's branded a suspect in the murders. Through further investigation, Madeline learns that there have been other suspicious deaths at the school over the years. The school is an odd place, with mandatory therapy and a caffeine ban for faculty as well as students. With the help of a creative defense attorney and some fellow faculty members, Madeline tries to exonerate herself and unearth the real killer. (Grand Central, Jan., 326 pp., $23.99)
Reviewed by: 
Sheri Melnick