Nicole Davidson’s ‘Crash Course’ – A Thanksgiving Murder Mystery [Buried in a Book]

College applications and SATs are already part of a stressful time for young people without adding murder to the mix. However, like his contemporaries, nicole davidson He knew that death could strike anytime or anywhere. The young adult author uses this familiar rite of passage as the backdrop for her 1990 novel. Intensive course. The setup is pretty suspect; eight teenagers in search of a higher education, along with their strict teacher, hide out in a lakeside cabin over the Thanksgiving holiday. This recipe for danger fulfills itself once a student dies under mysterious circumstances. And until help arrives, the other students succumb to their isolation and growing paranoia.

The adolescent characters of Intensive course they’re more or less strangers who have been sentenced to five days with Mr. Alexander Porter, a tough-as-nails teacher who runs a program for students planning to take the SAT. The protagonist of the story, 16-year-old Kelly Peterson, is surprised to learn that she has been enrolled without her consent; Her dad has given up all his Thanksgiving vacation. It’s not all bad because Kelly’s friend and crush are also registered.

In addition to the four popular kids at Thomaston High, there are four other characters whose social statuses vary. Isabel Smith is the new girl whose Native American heritage leads to some awkward moments of otherness. Kelly is particularly guilty of exoticizing her potential new friend. Meanwhile, Chris Baxter is well known at school, but not for good reasons; the only black character in the story is a burly athlete with a reputation for violence. Nathan Grant, whom Jeff knew a bit before the trip, is a misfit in the most traditional sense of the word. Bringing up the rear of this motley crew is Angel Manson, the space girl from another school.

If it had, they might have survived the Thanksgiving break.

Davidson doesn’t jump right into the murders, but once someone is killed, the mystery consumes the rest of the book without any breaks or escapes. After all, the cast is stuck in this remote cabin until the bus picks them up on Sunday, and there’s no phone nearby to call for help. Interestingly, the author makes the decision to practically reveal the identity of the culprit in the prologue. Anyone who wants to read Intensive course It would be wise to omit the preface, without mentioning this entire summary.

The first and only true fatality in the story occurs after Isabel scares the others with a legend of the natives of the area; Star-crossed young lovers make a suicide pact and drown themselves in Deep Creek Lake so they can be together for all eternity. Kelly’s best friend, Brian Lopez, is visibly shaken by Isabel’s campfire story, but the reason why only becomes clearer when you remember what’s going on with her character. Before embarking on the trip, she found Brian arguing with his girlfriend Paula Schultz. The possessive cheerleader is upset by the idea that they will inevitably break up after high school, especially when Brian plans to skip college and go to an air force academy instead. However, the couple doesn’t get a chance to make things right: Brian goes missing after heading out on a rowboat in the middle of the night.

With Brian’s body nowhere to be found and Paula claiming a stranger is responsible, Mr. Porter sets out for help. The remaining characters then attempt to solve the mystery on their own, which comes down to nothing more than conveniently pointing fingers. Chris displays his violent temper twice, but it turns out that he is suffering from a severe case of rage on steroids. The sensitive jock has been injecting himself with anabolic steroids for scouts to notice. As for Nathan, his substance abuse and generally nasty attitude stem from a bad situation at home. Isabel just heard that popular students were going to this retreat and she wanted to make friends. Of course, her story about her lovers had a greater purpose. Finally there is Ángel, the outlier who talks to animals and inanimate objects. However, she is too caught up in her own world to hurt anyone. In addition, Ángel is a witness of what Really it happened on the ship.

With the odd ones discarded, Intensive course he naturally turns to the cool kids. Jeff Mitchell, the Harvard-bound wrestler with a crush on Kelly, is suspicious for a minute before we’re reminded that he has no real motive to hurt Brian. With that in mind, Kelly finds out who the culprit really is here. After Nathan is brutally stabbed and left for dead with Isabel’s hunting knife, this is after she learned the identity of the attacker, Kelly takes the perpetrator out into the open. There, on the lakeshore where everyone was once frantically searching for Brian on that terrible night, Kelly confronts the culprit.

Because if it fell on his chest, the blade would go right through him.

There is a hint of the sinister in Intensive course, although the author does not follow through. Mysticism and tokenism regarding Isabel already border on the atrocious. However, it is Isabel’s legendary story that partly inspired the crime. As Kelly suspected, Paula is the one who comes to meet her on the shore. She may have tried to silence Nathan, but Brian was a total accident. Like Isabel, Paula knew about the legend of Deep Creek Lake lovers beforehand, so she attended Porter’s SAT course and convinced Brian to come. In a dark twist, introduced in the prologue, Paula backed out of her own suicide pact with Brian once they were at the lake. Brian, in an attempt to scare Paula immediately after hearing Isabel’s version of the myth, took his girlfriend to the rowboat. In fact, Paula changed her mind about dying with her lover. Unfortunately, Brian slipped and drowned.

Brian’s death was an accident; he was not killed. But Paula was worried that no one would believe her, or she was afraid that everyone would ostracize her. Despite three accounts of attempted murder from her (Nathan and Kelly, along with Mr. Porter, who got away with a broken leg), Miss Schultz was sent to a mental institution instead of prison. The sequel Crash landingpublished in 1996 but set just over a year after the events of Intensive course, takes place at a mountain resort near Deep Creek Lake. And as Kelly continues to mourn Brian, she finds herself embroiled in another murder. This time, however, she is the main suspect.

The mystery of the sequel begins with the death of Paula during a rather wintry spring break. She secretly escaped from the institution to visit the place where Brian died and make peace with everyone she hurt. However, after Kelly forgives her, Paula is found dead from a knife wound. Kelly eventually becomes the number one suspect as part of the local police’s plan to lure out the real killer. While the ruse doesn’t work exactly as intended, Kelly gets to the bottom of not only Paula’s murder, but also another crime under investigation.

Kelly turned her head to see the snowmobile slide recklessly through an opening in the trees and then race directly toward her.

Crash landing panders to the prevailing PSA culture of the decade. First there’s Nathan’s binge drinking, and then there’s Kelly’s eating disorder. Neither issue is 100% resolved by the end, so at least Davidson isn’t setting unrealistic expectations. Finally there is the other crime coinciding with the death of Paula; a fellow student named Will has been running guns up and down the East Coast. If Paula hadn’t discovered one of Will’s gun caches, she might have lived a lot longer. The undercover cop tracking Will’s undercover activities and protecting Kelly, a 21-year-old named Troy, suspects drugs rather than illegal weapons. Regardless, this story was one of many in the ’90s that hoped to educate youth about drugs, gangs, and guns.

Intensive course sells itself as an Agatha Christie-esque story for younger audiences, but it’s more like the breakfast club if that movie had been a teen mystery set in low flames. Crash landingon the other hand, it feels like a 21 Jump Street episode; It ends up being what can best be described as an after-school thriller. In the first book not much happens, while in the second maybe too much happens. However, for better pacing and a less predictable plot, the sequel is the better of these two. deep cove lake stories.


There was a time when the young adult section of bookstores was full of terror and suspense. These books were easily identified by their bold fonts and striking cover. This remarkable subgenre of YA fiction thrived in the 1980s, peaked in the 1990s, and finally came to an end in the early 2000s. NOW horror of this kind is indeed a thing of the past, but the stories live on in buried in a book. This recurring column reflects on the nostalgic novels that still haunt readers decades later.

Intensive course

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