Cruel Lessons


Cruel Lessons

by Randy Overbeck

GENRE:   Amateur sleuth mystery

On a school camping trip, fifth graders experiment with a dangerous new hallucinogen and die in a horrific accident, their deaths shattering the quiet town. Assistant Superintendent Ken Parks, hoping to redeem a fatal mistake from his past, grasps the opportunity to conduct the district investigation of how students are getting the drugs. Almost before he begins, the cops make a stunning arrest. But Parks battles on, convinced the real pusher is still out there, poisoning more kids until he receives an anonymous threat: if he continues, those close to him will pay. Is Parks willing to risk those he loves for a chance at redemption?

Read an Excerpt:

Struggling desperately to force her mind to think, Amanda tried to consider her options. It was all happening too quickly. The next treacherous turn came at her fast. She had no way to slow down. White knuckles gripped the steering wheel.

The bend ahead showed a hard curve to the right, not quite as tight as the last one, but steeper. And she felt the car accelerating, though she hadn’t touched the gas pedal. Right before the car hit the curve, Amanda spun the steering wheel. The car lurched around the bend. The driver side of the car lifted up. Halfway through the long bend, Amanda watched the hood tilt in the turn until it was almost vertical. No seat belt on, she was catapulted down the leather seat, crashing into the passenger door.  

“Hell!” she cried, reaching to grab her bruised shoulder. 

She froze as the two wheels still on the ground shuddered in the gravel, sliding off the small road. Slammed against the side door, she heard the tall weeds and low branches whip against the body. But the car didn’t slow. Blood streamed from a gash on her forehead. For an instant she lay there stretched across the passenger door, holding her breath.

Then she sensed the car teetering. The front tire bumped something hard. Amanda stared, unbelieving, as the car began to flip. As the Regal made the first revolution, she screamed.

About the Author:

Dr. Randy Overbeck is a best-selling author of the award-winning series, The Haunted Shores Mysteries, the three entries earning such national awards as the Gold Award from Literary Titan, Mystery of the Year from ReaderViews, Best Book from Chanticleer and Crowned Heart of Excellence from InD’tale Magazine. He hosts a new podcast, “Great Stories about Great Storytellers,” which reveals the unusual backstories of famous authors, directors and poets. He is also a speaker in much demand, sharing his multi-media presentations, “Thanks Still Go Bump in the Night”  and “A Few Favorite Haunts” with audiences all over the country. More info about his novels, programs and podcast can be found at his website .


A Message From The Author:

“Sooner or later, everything old is new again.”

This quote from Stephen King came to mind when I thought about my newest work. In October, the Wild Rose Press will release my newest fiction, CRUEL LESSONS, an atmospheric amateur sleuth mystery and the first in a new series called “Lessons in Peril” stories set in schools. The novel features a pair of middle age protagonists who are, you guessed it, educators, in fact, an elementary school teacher and a school administrator. Hardly your normal heroes. In the story, fifth graders get hold of a dangerous hallucinogenic, steal a car and die in a horrific crash. Assistant Superintendent Ken Parks and teacher Stacy Turner struggle to uncover who is peddling the deadly drugs before more kids die.

What brought King’s words to mind is that, while the novel is my newest work, it is also my oldest. I’ve been at this writing thing for a while now. Cruel Lessons will be my fifth published work in the past decade or so. But like most writers I think, I’ve been inventing stories, imagining characters and conjuring up plots and crimes for quite a while. One of my earliest fictional inventions was this story—or at least a very early version of the narrative and characters. This manuscript has lain in the virtual drawer for twenty years—the first attempt at the tale written long hand on legal pads—waiting for me to mature and improve as a writer and storyteller. Even though the current published version of Cruel Lessons has been through too many revisions, re-writings and editings to count, the skeleton of the narrative is much the same as envisioned so many years ago. So, like King wrote, what’s old is new again, though this was probably not King’s intent for the saying. 

Cruel Lesson is an atmospheric, amateur sleuth mystery, the first in a new series set in schools called “Lessons in Peril.” The story involves a rogue, hallucinogenic drug being pushed in a middle school and, after it results in the death of four students, the rush to stop the drug pusher before more children die. 

I think you’re going to like the final rendering of the tale. The early reviewers certainly do.

Literary Titan wrote that the novel was “masterfully written. Each new revelation adds to the suspense and keeps the reader on edge, eagerly anticipating what further secrets the story holds…… a gripping crime thriller and amateur sleuth mystery.” 

The folks at ReaderViews called it “a thrilling murder mystery…with an immersive plot, steady pace and stellar character development…one of the best mysteries of 2023.” 

And the reviewers at N N Light Bookheaven thought CRUEL LESSONS was“brilliant from start to finish…Impressive storytelling left me with a racing heart and shivers. One of the best thrillers I’ve ever read.” Interested yet?

Be among the first. 

The official release date of CRUEL LESSONS is scheduled for October 11 but it is available for pre-order at Amazon and Barnes and Noble now. Check the links below for preorder or simply go to my website











Randy Overbeck will be awarding a $25 Amazon/BN GC to a randomly drawn winner via rafflecopter during the tour.

a Rafflecopter giveaway


  1. I enjoyed reading the excerpt. I am so curious about this I cannot wait to read.

  2. The author is unable to post a comment, but asked us to say thank you for hosting him, and he'll be around to answer any questions that may come up. Thanks!

  3. Amateur sleuth mysteries are fun to read.

  4. This sound like a very intriguing read.

  5. This book has a very timely plot! The amateur sleuth genre is an interesting twist on crime thrillers.

  6. Thanks for the giveaway opportunity. The book looks interesting.

  7. Thanks for hosting. It sounds very good!


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