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Reviewed by Alma Boucher for Readers' Favorite
Cruel Lessons is a thrilling murder mystery by Randy Overbeck. Everyone is shocked when a horrible accident during a school camping trip results in the deaths of four fifth graders. It turns out the boys were under the influence of a hallucinogen-inducing drug. The school board asked Ken Parks to find out how the kids got hold of the drugs and if the school was liable for their deaths. Ken starts investigating, not realizing that his investigation may endanger his life and those he cares about. Ken vows to find out how eleven-year-old boys come into possession of drugs that cause hallucinations. Ken is taken aback by the police's prompt arrest, and when a popular teacher is fighting to prove her innocence, he promises to do all within his power to uncover the truth.
Cruel Lessons is a character-driven story focusing on the characters and their rich, complex backgrounds. Randy Overbeck has created a world of drugs in schools, bullying, and family. With all the action and twists and turns, I never knew what would happen next. It was a page-turner, and I was kept guessing until the end. The suspense had me on the edge of my seat, and I could not put it down. The characters were authentic and relatable. All the teachers had unique personalities, although Ken was my favorite character. He relied on his gut instinct to bring the drug dealer to justice. The story is brilliantly written and descriptive. It had my attention from the very beginning and kept me on my toes until the end.