Letter Essay 5 | Jake Colangelo | Killing Mr.Griffin

Jake Colangelo




I read “Killing Mr.Griffin” which is a 243 page mystery novel written by Lois Duncan. It was banned in some places due mainly to violence and was made into a television film in 1997. Lois Duncan also wrote I Know What You Did Last Summer which then became a movie. I read this story mainly because of the eye catching title and intriguing cover.The cover depicts a noose against a chalkboard with the subtitle “Revenge is a dangerous lesson”. Personally after doing some research, I like the original cover better. The story revolves around a small group of high school students and and a english teacher who can only be described as sarcastic and seemingly inconsiderate. Secondary characters are simply family of the main characters and don’t contribute to the story very much, discluding Mr.Griffin’s wife Kathy.


The plot of this story is kicked into gear when Mark Kinney plagiarize a paper written by a college student hoping to get a passing grade, but is caught by Mr.Griffin. Mark is then forced publicly to beg his teacher to be let back into his class, but is not accepted anyway, and is forced to retake the course with David Ruggles, Jeff Garrett, and Betsy Cline. After multiple occurences of upsetting and self-centered moves by Mr.Griffin such as refusing late work for assignments that were completed but lost. This is where Mark gets the idea to “shake him up”. “Nothing serious” but just to scare him and “put him in his place”. Mark was not only described as convincing but also shown to be good with people, able to bend and manipulate them. Jeff and Betsy didn’t need much convincing, and after some finesse from Mark, David hopped on the train. They are  going to kidnap Mr.Griffin. Little did they know they would accidentally kill him. Susan McConnell is pulled into the mix. And they must cover up their tracks.


I liked the authors use of description. The was she constantly gave you something to imagine meant you were never bored. I noticed how the author really emphasizes the “interagation” part of the book. She truly thought of everything from perspective to how someone would react on either side of the situation. I also liked how character development showed David slowly become more paranoid and regretful, while Mark seemed virtually unchanged.


The first page of the book quickly introduces an important character and shows off some of the author’s style of writing. “It was a wild, windy, southwestern spring when the idea of killing Mr.Griffin occurred to them.

As she crossed the playing field to reach the school building, Susan McConnell Leaned into the wind and cupped her hands around the edges of her glasses to keep the blowing red dust from filling her eyes. Tumbleweeds swept pasther like small, furry animals, rushing to pole in drifts against the fence that separated the field from the parking lot. The parked cars all had theirs windows up as though against a rainstorm. In the distance, the rugged Sandia Mountains rose in faint outline, almost obscured by the pinkish haze.” (pg. 1)


I liked this particular passage because of two things. One being, how perfect that first line was. What a wonderful way to begin a book. It invokes thought, gives us a setting and is somehow blatantly mysterious. I also like how it shows the descriptive style of the writer. She doesn’t miss a single detail, painting a beautiful picture. “Blowing red dust” and  “Rugged Sandia Mountains” are among my favorites. I would rate this book a 5.5/10, simply because it was predictable but very-well written. 



Jake Colangelo


*original cover

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18 thoughts on “Letter Essay 5 | Jake Colangelo | Killing Mr.Griffin

  1. Dear, Jake

    I loved your letter-essay and all the thought you put into analyzing the writing style of the author. This was well written but I was a little confused when you wrote “The was she constantly gave you something to imagine meant you were never bored. ” This was probably a simple mistake but just make sure to watch out for small errors like that. Very nice job!

    – Asher Hafen

    1. Dear Asher,

      Thanks so much for pointing that out! “Was” was supposed to be “Way”! The sentence would have been the following: “The way she constantly gave you something to imagine meant you were never bored. ”

      Thanks again,

  2. Jake,

    Well, this book definitely has a twist… not at the end but everywhere! Wow, that teacher Mr. Griffin is a really how should I say this, mean! Even though I think that punishment is fair because plagiarizing is bad and that punishment is really fair! But really to try and put a teacher back into place? Why would the author write that, if I was you I would try to explain more on your paragraphs and always rate your books truthfully, which you did. Nice author craft!!

    ~Elisabeth Berg

  3. Jake,

    I really enjoyed your letter-essay and how you really elaborated on how the book started out light and then got dark when you said “Little did they know they would accidentally kill him.” I think that you could have added why a bit on how Kathy was important. But overall it is very well written and very detailed.

    Luke Vechiarelli

  4. Dear Jake,

    I liked how you commented on the passage of writing. The way you said how it affects the tone was especially good. This shows deeper thinking and understanding of the writing style. However, I suggest you look back at your citations, and remember how they are supposed to be formed [” “(pg).].

    -Sarah Allen

  5. Jake,

    Your letter-essay was very well written. There are a few spelling and grammatical errors, but other than that it’s very good. One problem I have with it, though, is that when you write “Mr. Griffin”, you leave out the space between the period and Griffin(leaving it as “Mr.Griffin”), and I know it’s not crucial but I found it distracting. The way you write very much reminds me of the way you describe the authors way of writing. Overall, you did a very good job.


  6. Jake,

    I really liked your summary. You really showed the plot without giving to much away. Even though you rated this book a 5.5 out of ten. i still want to read it, just to see what the characters are like and whats is going to happen to the students.

  7. Dear, Jake

    I loved your letter essay and all you said about it. I loved all the detail you put into it and how you gave your honest opinion.

  8. I really want to read this book now. I loved how you went into detail in your summary, and almost incorporated some humor in your intro.

  9. I really liked your essay. To me it sort of sounds like another book that I read through last year. It was called, A Bad Day For Voodoo. It was similar in the sense where a student tries to prank his teacher or get revenge in some way and then kills him. I really liked how you specifically pointed out how the author described things and how you liked it.

  10. Hi Jake
    I really like your letter essay. You elaborated a lot on your essay and how the book started out light and then dark when you said “Little did they know they would accidentally kill him.” But overall your letter essay was pretty good.


  11. Dear Jake,

    I really liked your writing. It was really interesting and I loved reading your Letter Essay. One thing I thought was cool was how you explained your inner thinking throughout your writing.

    Thanks for Sharing,

  12. Dear Jake

    I really liked your letter essay it had a lot of description and a lot of details and I though you really did a great job. I really like what you were talking about in your letter essay it gave the reader an idea of you knowing the book.

  13. Dear Jake,

    I really liked your letter essay, and how you explained you story without giving the ending too much. I think you are a great writer and you should keep going. Good job on you letter essay!


  14. Howdy Jake

    This book sounds AWSOME. I can’t stand getting board with books (because then I want to stop but I want to find out if it gets good). I like how you explained how the book goes with out being redundant. I also like how you said it was banned in other countries (The Simpsons movie was banned in Burma for ‘use of color ((red and yellow)) that is found unacceptable by his majesty’)!

    Happy reading

  15. Dear Jake,

    I admire the time you took to analyze this book. You brought a deeper level of understanding to the Letter Essay game witch improves upon us as readers of these essays. Your Essay even though not some of the seemingly infinite paged ones did incapsulate the whole book into just one essay


    Jason Kowalski

  16. I liked how you explained the quoted passage. Even thought you rated it a 5.5/10 the book still seems very intriguing. I also like how you named the other book he had written. If i read this one and like it then I can read the other book.

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