Another bucolic fall in northern New Hampshire, and the semester is under way at Bishop's Hill Academy. But this year the start of school has been less than tranquil. The new headmaster, Jim Hawthorne, has liberal ideas that the staff finds far from welcome. Before Hawthorne, no one interfered with the punishment of unruly students or with the long "tradition" of permanent loans to faculty of shovels, saws, even cars from the school's supplies. Eloquent as Hawthorne is on the subject of honor, rumor has it he's only taken this job to escape his past. And Hawthorne isn't the only uneasy newcomer. There's Jessica, a troubled fifteen-year-old former stripper, and Frank LeBrun, a replacement cook who's a bit too quick with a dirty joke. All three have secrets to conceal, memories to suppress. Serene on the surface, the ivy-clad, tree-lined campus gives few clues to the school's long history of special privileges, petty corruptions, and hidden allegiances. And as winter closes in, students, teachers, and staff get an education in savagery and murder.
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