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.