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Memories of reading this recently started teasing around the edges of my memory and I'm trying to pin it down. The protagonists are a set of kids (I think mixed gender, possibly primarily caucasian) in the United States, probably about middle to high school aged. I think this part of a larger series, probably involving the kids solving mysteries, in part because that was a major part of my reading material at the time, and it fits with the other bits. The scene which comes to mind is them finding an older kid (male, I'm pretty sure) lying on a couch and moaning about having difficulty seeing. It's revealed that this kid, as well as a few others, have been using the school chemistry lab to make some sort of drugs, and I remember it being implied that they were synthesizing LSD, explaining that one kid as basically suffering hallucinations. Instead, the kids are found to have been creating, and getting drunk off of, methanol aka wood alcohol, with the visual issues being caused by damage to the optic nerve (I don't remember them stating the damage to be permanent, although the book does make it very clear how dangerous the practice was and that the kids were lucky none of them died).

I would have read this in Ashland, KY, in English, probably somewhere between the late 1980s and the mid 1990s. I don't know if it would have been a contemporary book of the time, or an older one that I picked up at the library.

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  • So the takeaway for the impressionable teens reading this book is that LSD is preferable to wood alcohol‽
    – verbose
    Apr 5 at 16:25
  • My memory of it was that it was a little closer to that it was a mystery where the answer was simpler, and dumber, than expected. Because the students synthesizing the alcohol were older, the protagonists assumed a more sophisticated operation rather than them poisoning themselves as they were. Apr 8 at 12:30

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