THE LAST RESORT North Country Academy is where desperate parents send their troubled teenagers when all else has failed. For remote Trout Run, New York, the school means good jobs, always scarce in the Adirondacks. But to Police Chief Frank Bennett, the Academy -- with its roster of delinquent students and its unlikable but curiously compelling headmaster, MacArthur Payne -- means an open invitation to trouble. When a teacher leading a survivalist wilderness expedition is mauled by a bear, evidence points to sabotage. As Frank's investigation leads him behind the gated walls of Payne's institution, he finds a place that is more prison than school. Under political pressure to keep the school open at all costs, Frank risks his career and his life to unravel a knot of old scores and new rivalries...before they turn deadly.