Dear old bloody school days.
Smugly egalitarian Windsor, a Massachusetts boarding school where every rich boy is equal to every other rich boy and there is a precisely calibrated ratio of minorities, accepts Mark DeAvecca, perhaps hoping for an endowment from his superwealthy mom, writer/media nabob Liz Toliver, and stepdad, rock idol Jimmy Card. Mark, however, is soon blacking out, spacing out and acting like a world-class druggie. He’s so addled he can’t tell what’s real and what’s not, and when he finds his roommate Michael Feyre hanging from the sprinkler pipes, most of the faculty think he caused the death and should be expelled. Unable to defend himself, feeling sicker by the minute, Mark calls on family friend Gregor Demarkian (Conspiracy Theory, 2003, etc.), who arrives just in time to have Mark sent to the hospital, where caffeine and arsenic poisoning are diagnosed. Headmaster Peter Makepeace tries to keep a lid on the scandals, but more follow quickly. Makepeace’s flamboyant wife Alice has picked out a different boy each year to have sex with. One teacher is a closeted gay, another has easy access to student allowances, another has a secret identity and another ingests cyanide and falls from the library catwalk.
An in-depth study of educational elitism, emotion versus intellect, and the question of what women really want. In a contest against Elizabeth George for Most Long-Winded, Haddam would win on style points.