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Book Author: Samantha Downing

FOR YOUR OWN GOOD by Samantha Downing: Book Review

“I’m doing this for your own good.”  How many times have we heard that expression, especially when we were children, but never believed it?

That’s how Teddy Crutcher, Teacher of the Year at Belmont Academy, rationalizes all the cruel, vindictive, and simply nasty things he does to the students in his English classes and to his colleagues.

Being a teacher at Belmont isn’t easy for Teddy.  It’s a college prep academy for entitled students and their entitled parents, in his private opinion.  Of course, that means giving the students the benefit of every doubt about the level of their work and being polite and understanding when the parents complain about their child’s grades or college recommendations.  Teddy doesn’t find it easy to do either one.

Thus Teddy has devised methods of dealing with his students and his colleagues, “for their own good” of course.  For the students, he’ll give the ones he dislikes a grade lower on their book reports or final grades than they deserve or an unfavorable letter of recommendation for college.

For his colleagues, he’s devised a different punishment.  He’s taken note of the type of coffee they drink every morning in the break room.  Luckily for him, if not for his colleagues, each one likes a different flavor.  Frank drinks Ethiopian Roast, Mindy likes Gold Roast, and Sonia prefers Slim Roast.  That makes it so easy for Teddy.

He simply takes a few of the coffee pods each prefers and injects something into them.  Thank goodness for the internet, from which he’s learned these skills.  For those teachers he deems hyper, a shot of Valium helps calm them down, at least for the day.  For another who’s always sad or melancholy, Adderall works wonders.

Sonia Benjamin is another teacher at Belmont, one who is the total opposite of Teddy.   She is kind, caring, and works with her students to help them be the best they can be.  But she’s not confident and is a worrier, and she’s an easy target for Teddy’s vindictiveness.

Now Sonia has become the target of Teddy’s spleen.  Simply because she came into his classroom to ask for a favor for a student, she is now a persona non grata, and he’s figured out a way to throw her off her stride.  Every once in a while he injects something in her morning coffee, not enough to make her really ill, just enough to ensure she has a really uncomfortable day.

On Sonia’s special day, the tenth anniversary of her joining the faculty as well as being named this year’s Teacher of the Year, everyone is in the Stafford Room awaiting the celebration.  Teddy, of course, is there too, waiting for Sonia’s reaction to the drug he slipped into the pod of Slim Roast.  But something goes wrong, and it’s not Sonia who drinks the coffee, collapses, and is rushed to the hospital.

Samantha Downing has written an intriguing mystery, one in which the protagonist sees himself as the center, and ruler, of his domain and has convinced himself that everything he does is for someone else’s good.  It’s an insightful look into a man with a narcissistic personality disorder and the havoc he wreaks with it.

You can read more about Samantha Downing at this website.

Check out the complete Marilyn’s Mystery Reads at her website.  In addition to book review posts, there are sections featuring Golden OldiesPast Masters and Mistresses, and an About Marilyn column that features her opinions about everything to do with mystery novels.