Guy Langman, Crime Scene Procrastinator

Guy Langman, Crime Scene Procrastinator

4.0 6
by Josh Berk
     
 

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Guy Langman can't be bothered with much. But when his friend Anoop wants Guy to join the forensics club with him in the (possibly misguided) hopes of impressing some girls, Guy thinks why not.

They certainly aren't expecting to find a real dead body on the simulated crime scene they're assigned to collect evidence from. But after some girlish, undignified

Overview

Guy Langman can't be bothered with much. But when his friend Anoop wants Guy to join the forensics club with him in the (possibly misguided) hopes of impressing some girls, Guy thinks why not.

They certainly aren't expecting to find a real dead body on the simulated crime scene they're assigned to collect evidence from. But after some girlish, undignified screaming, the two realize it is indeed a body. Which means they have stumbled across a real, dead murder victim.

Meanwhile, Guy has been looking into the past of his father—a larger-than-life character who recently passed away. He was much older than Guy's mom, and had a whole past Guy never even knew about. Could his father's past and the dead body be linked? Does Guy want to know? He's going to need all his newfound forensics skills to find out . . .

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
Berk (The Dark Days of Hamburger Halpin) is back with another irreverent mixture of wisecracking humor, teenage insecurity, and the occasional corpse. When underachieving class clown Guy Langman joins his school’s forensics club, it’s both to help deal him with the death of his father and to meet girls. Unfortunately, his plan to get closer to the lovely Raquel Flores fails when she falls for his best friend, Anoop. Guy throws himself into the lesson plan, mastering the art of fingerprinting and using his knowledge to pry into the mysteries of his father’s checkered past. Then, during a forensics competition, he finds a real dead body. Convinced that recent events tie into one another, Guy tries to get to the heart of the matter, with help from the rest of the club. A somewhat thin and disjointed plot is balanced by many laugh-out-loud moments and entertaining interactions between characters, especially Guy’s banter with fellow club member Maureen. Berk has keen talent for characterization and fine insights into the teenage mind. Ages 12–up. Agent: Ted Malawer, Upstart Crow Literary. (Mar.)
From the Publisher
Kirkus Reviews, January 15, 2012:
"Hilarious wit and serious gloom blend seamlessly as Guy wades through the year after his dad’s death...Guy’s running inner monologue is sharply observational, sardonic, funny and sad...Best friend Anoop and other peers are freshly unusual, not recycled character types."
School Library Journal
Gr 8 Up—Sixteen-year-old Guy is lazy, immature, and sarcastic, and he will do just about anything to meet hot girls, even if that means joining the Forensics Squad with his best friend, Anoop. His father has recently died, and the teen's wisecracking only partially helps him cope with the loss. The Forensics Squad does lead Guy and Anoop to attractive girls, and also helps them solve three mysteries surrounding the identity of a man in an old photo with Guy's father, the theft of valuable coins from Guy's attic, and the death of the teen's look-alike on a rival school's forensics team. As he struggles to solve the cases, Guy writes down what he remembers of his father's words of wisdom and wonders what he would have done. The writing starts as a book about his dad and over time morphs into a journal of the teen's own thoughts, revealing his sensitive side. The boys' friendship is genuine, and the back-and-forth between them is realistic and sprinkled with mild profanity and sexual references that's not surprising to hear from older teens. Their trip to Manhattan in pursuit of the man pictured with Guy's father results in a hilarious adventure and vivid glimpse of the city. Strong characters, a well-structured plot, and a dash of CSI-like science make this novel a surefire hit.—M. Kozikowski, Sachem Public Library, Holbrook, NY
School Library Journal - Audio
Gr 7–10—Teen boys will be drawn into Josh Berk's tale (Knopf, 2012) from the very first chapter. Guy Langman is a typical suburban teen, but his father recently died and he has a few unanswered questions. Rather than becoming saddled with morose introspection, he pokes fun at himself and shares his insecurities with humor and sarcasm. Guy joins a forensics club to meet hot girls, but also finds that some of his questions will be answered as he studies death in a scientific way. The story builds slowly in the beginning, but the engaging plot twists (especially toward the end) keep listeners hooked. When Guy experiences a home burglary, he has the opportunity put his forensic study into practice. During his forensic final, he encounters a real dead body, and eventually he connects these two crimes to his long-lost brother, Jacque. There are some touching moments, but these are not over-written or drawn out. Guy simply reflects on his situation and moves on. Much of the humor is a bit crude, but not offensive. Jim Meskimen delivers the self-effacing comments perfectly, and he doesn't create distracting girl voices. The book should not be sold as a mystery or forensic novel. It will be enjoyed by the same boys who loved Con Calame's Beat the Band (2010) and Swim the Fly (2009. both Candlewick).—Pamela Schembri, Newburgh Enlarged City Schools, NY
Kirkus Reviews
Hilarious wit and serious gloom blend seamlessly as Guy wades through the year after his dad's death. Everything is slightly offbeat here, from Guy himself (a contemporary Jewish teen who cares about bubble baths but not music) to his late father's literal-treasure-hunting past to the forensics required right in the middle of the realism. Francis Langman had a long, colorful life before he met Guy's (much younger) mother, so Guy tries to write "Rules for Living": The Francis Langman Story as a tribute and quote-preserver ("Death is part of life, but so is the clap…. Seriously, Guy, wear a rubber"). Guy's running inner monologue is sharply observational, sardonic, funny and sad. "Does replacing an ‘e' with an apostrophe automatically make something sound more poetic? I lunch'd on school burritos.…" Best friend Anoop and other peers are freshly unusual, not recycled character types. Anoop corrals passive Guy into forensics club, and none too soon--a real death occurs at a forensics meet. Is someone trying to off Guy? The pals lift fingerprints and don golf attire to follow a hunch but instead find something surprisingly touching. It's only too bad that Berk's "rules for living" structure uses a stereotypical primitive-tribe trope to contrast with complex first-world humans. Realistic grief, humor, camp, crime investigation--and plenty of good boner jokes. (Fiction. 12-16)

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780307968449
Publisher:
Penguin Random House Audio Publishing Group
Publication date:
03/13/2012
Product dimensions:
5.10(w) x 6.00(h) x 1.20(d)
Age Range:
12 - 17 Years

Read an Excerpt

CHAPTER ONE

January. Eight Months Later. Forensics Squad, Day One

“Welcome to Forensics Squad!” The handwriting on the board is so chipper that it makes me snort. Who is that happy about forensics? Mr. Zant, apparently.

It is 2:45, fifteen minutes after the last bell. School is over, but Mr. Z’s classroom is packed to the gills. That’s a joke. Get it? Because Mr. Z’s favorite subject is marine biology? But wait, I didn’t already explain that, so there’s no way you could have gotten the joke. Even then, it is quite possibly not funny. Never mind.

“Wow,” Mr. Zant is saying, circling the room, handing out a form we all sign but don’t read. He’s very young, and he almost looks like a kid. “It is really cool to see so many of you,” he says.

He has to mean that it’s really cool to see so many good-looking girls show up for his club meeting. The hot girls are the main reason I joined up. Okay, I like the forensics shows on TV. And yeah, maybe I have sort of been one of those death-obsessed teenagers you hear about sometimes. Wearing a turtleneck, hanging out in cafes, reading books by Camus, stuff like that. (Not really. I hate turtlenecks.) But really, since Dad died last spring, I guess the idea of learning about how people die appeals to me. The difference between breathing and not breathing seems so thin . . .

Normally I don’t love extracurricular anythings, and I didn’t really want to join this club. But then Anoop told me that Mr. Z was hosting a weekly club starting after winter break that includes Laura Shaw, Aiden Altieri, Scarlett Reese, and Raquel Flores, and somehow I found myself penciling in my name on the Forensics Club sign-up sheet. The last lass mentioned, the lovely Raquel, is of particular interest to me . . .

What can I say about Raquel Flores? Eyes like an angel, heart like an angel, and legs like an angel . . . Wait, do angels have nice legs? Do angels even have legs? I know they have wings, so they probably don’t need legs. Forget it. I don’t think Jews believe in angels, anyway. Just know this: There might be other girls who are a bit more popular, but there are none more beautiful or more mysterious than Raquel Flores. If she’s not the sole reason I’m a member of Forensics Squad, her name on that list is certainly the factor that put me over the top. I’m crushing on her hard. I was interested in the topic, yeah, but still, it takes a lot to get me to sign up for anything. I’m not normally exactly what you’d call a “joiner.”

Mr. Z continues. “It’s just awesome that you are all into forensics. I should warn you, though,” he says. “It’s not at all like you see on TV. It’s actually a lot of hard work, nitty-gritty science. We are going to learn the basics of crime scene investigation through a combination of lecture and lab, ending the semester with a simulated scene in the field. I will plant the evidence. You will solve the crime.”

“Dude,” I whisper to Anoop. “There are four ensics? What’s an ensic, anyway? It sounds like something from health class.”

“You’re thinking of ‘cervix,’” Anoop says, tapping his temple. “And there is but the glorious one.”

“Your mother has four ensics,” I say.

“Shut up your face about my mother,” he hisses. “Or I’ll kill you.” He says “kill” like “keel” and motions with his finger like he’s slitting a throat.

“And then I can figure out exactly how you did it!” I yell. When I think I’m funny, I have a problem with volume control. I slap the table. “Because I know all four ensics!”

The adorable Raquel Flores turns her head in my direction and narrows her dark eyes into a nasty squint. The look on her face lets me know that she is less amused and more confused. Story of my life. My mind goes to a piece of advice my dad gave me once. “Go where the pretty is,” he always said. Worked for him. I’ve seen the pictures. He had some amazingly hot girlfriends before Mom. I cherish all of his advice. Live my life by it.

“What’s all the commotion back there, Guy?” Mr. Zant says. Huh. I haven’t been in any of his classes. We didn’t take roll or anything. How does he know my name?

I wrinkle up my eyebrows and turn my head at a highly confused angle.

“What?” I say. “You must be some sort of genius detective.” Smooth.

“Tell me your name, Guy,” he repeats. Mr. Zant is one of those teachers who always try to be cool and hip and think of themselves as more of a friend than an enforcer, but I can tell he’s getting sort of pissed at me.

“But you already know,” I say.

“Dude,” Anoop says to me in a low voice. “I don’t think he really guessed your name.” Anoop is good at figuring out social situations, unlike me. “Zant is probably one of those dudes who just call everybody ‘guy.’ He doesn’t realize that your name is actually ‘Guy.’”

“What are you whispering about, you guys?” Mr. Zant says, this time to Anoop.

“No,” Anoop says, pointing both thumbs at himself. “Just one Guy. I’m Anoop Chattopadhyay. But you can call me the Bengal Tiger. Everybody does.” Then he points to me with a double handgun gesture. “This goofy-looking Jew is Guy Langman.”

Thanks, Anoop. He could have described me a million different ways. Noted my lovely curls, my naturally svelte build, my nose-of-much-character, my glowing smile. But no: it’s “goofy-looking Jew.” Could be worse, I guess. I smile weakly at Raquel.

Mr. Zant scratches his goatee and cocks his head.

I’ve never heard anyone, including Anoop, refer to him as “the Bengal Tiger.” He’s an Indian guy with hipster glasses and a valiantly-trying-to-be-a-mustache mustache. He dresses like a living Lands’ End catalog. The Bengal Tiger? The whole room has turned tense, silent, and, if I’m not mistaken, a little angry. I stare everyone down and drum a quick rhythm on the table with my fingers.

“Don’t get your ensics in a bunch,” I say. “I’m here all week.”

Meet the Author

JOSH BERK is the author of The Dark Days of Hamburger Halpin. He lives in Allentown, Pennsylvania, with his wife and two children, and is a children's services librarian at the Allentown Public Library.

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Guy Langman, Crime Scene Procrastinator 4 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 6 reviews.
Heidi_G More than 1 year ago
Guy seems to be dealing with the death of his dad.  He and his best friend, Anoop, join the forensics club at school; who is also a member but Raquel, the girl of Guy's dreams.  The story drags for half the book, with the best parts being the teen boy potty humor (which I didn't necessarily enjoy but the target audience most likely will).  When a murder finally appears, the story picks up but it wasn't enough for me to enjoy the story as a whole.  Some forensic science, some mystery.  My favorite character was Anoop, who puts up with his friend's ups and downs and has witty, comical comments for every turn of events.  Booktalking needed to really sell this to students.
beckymmoe More than 1 year ago
What a fun book! (Although it does perhaps give a little too much information about the thought process of teenage boys for those of us who aren't and never have been one to feel totally comfortable with. Especially if you work in close proximity to them every day and/or happen to live with one.) I didn't go into it expecting a big crime mystery (he is the crime scene procrastinator, after all) so I wasn't at all disappointed that the actual crime was such a small part of the book. Instead it was a witty, funny (again, teenage boy-style witty and funny, but still...) book about a boy who lost his father and is trying to figure out both his place in the world and how to cope with his mother's and his own grief. It had me laughing out loud one minute, cringing at his truly bad and tasteless jokes the next. I think every high school class out there has at least one Guy Langman in it, so anyone who's ever been to high school can identify with this book at least a little. Crime drama it isn't. Looking for a quirky coming-of-age story, though? Case closed. Though, honestly, do teenage boys really toss around all those "your mother" jokes? As the mother of a teenage boy, it's more than a little disconcerting....
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