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High School

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You might have been one of those kids who barely took notes and somehow did OK in high school, but that’s not going to work in college. Organize your notes meticulously, so you're not scrambling the night before finals.

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More than once, I winced at something the seemingly guileless main character, Ted Crutcher, spouts in Downing’s sly, smart thriller. Crutcher is Teacher of the Year at a private high school in the Northeast, one built on entitlement and wealth (Crutcher has little of either), where parents are not helicopters, but diabolical drones. Crutcher feels obligated, even driven, to “fiddle” with his students’ lives, to cajole, crusade, even murder on their unsuspecting behalf. Everything Crutcher does is for his students’ good. He’s a Dickens-loving Dexter, a psychopath with literary tendencies. When the consequences of one of his “fiddles” spirals out of control, Crutcher is caught in a battle of wits with three students out to uncover his demented machinations with a few of their own.

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