For Your Own Good

Samantha Downing. Berkley, $27 (384p) ISBN 978-0-593-10097-4

Within weeks, Belmont Academy’s image plummets from gilded Ivy League gateway to ghoulish #HomicideHigh in this slyly plotted page-turner from Edgar finalist Downing (He Started It). It’s going to take more than a few inconvenient bodies on campus, however, to derail such driven Belmont community members as English lit instructor Teddy Crutcher, whose recent teacher of the year award seems to have done little to diminish the massive chip on his shoulder, or talented but entitled junior Zach Ward, the most recent individual to arouse his ire. That is, until the less than stellar police investigation targets a student close to both Teddy and Zach, gifted school newspaper editor Courtney Ross. Their independent efforts to help her only make matters much, much worse—as well as put them on a dangerous collision course with one another. Though falling short of the boldly bizarro plot and quirky characters of He Started It, this thriller nonetheless offers darkly comic amusement and ample surprises from its cast of unabashedly amoral schemers. Downing remains a writer to watch. Agent: Barbara Poelle, Irene Goodman Literary. (July)