A job that involves a body.
A body wrapped in duct tape found hanging from the goal posts at the end of the football field.
You Killed Wesley Payne is a truly original and darkly hilarious update of classic pulp-noir, in which hard-boiled seventeen year-old Dalton Rev transfers to the mean hallways of Salt River High to take on the toughest case of his life. The question isn't whether Dalton's going to get paid. He always gets paid. Or whether he's gonna get the girl. He always (sometimes) gets the girl. The real question is whether Dalton Rev can outwit crooked cops and killer cliques in time to solve the mystery of "The Body" before it solves him.
Sean Beaudoin (Going Nowhere Faster, Fade to Blue) evokes the distinctive voices of legendary crime/noir authors Dashiell Hammett and Jim Thompson with a little bit of Mean Girls and Heathers thrown in for good measure. It'll tease you, please you, and never ever leave you. Actually, that's not true. It's only a book. One that's going to suck you in, spit you out, and make you shake hands with the devil. Probably.
|Publisher:||Little, Brown Books for Young Readers|
|Sold by:||Hachette Digital, Inc.|
|File size:||758 KB|
|Age Range:||12 - 18 Years|
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You Killed Wesley Payne
By Beaudoin, Sean
Little, Brown Books for Young ReadersCopyright © 2011 Beaudoin, Sean
All right reserved.
HOW DALTON CAME TO SCHOOL
Dalton Rev thundered into the parking lot of Salt River High, a squat brick building at the top of a grassless hill that looked more like the last stop of the hopeless than a springboard to the college of your choice. His black scooter wove through groups of students waiting for the first bell, muffler growling like a defective chain saw. In Dalton’s line of work it was vital to make a good first impression, especially if by good you meant utterly intimidating.
He parked away from a pool of mud, chained his helmet to the tire, and unzipped his leather jacket. Underneath was a crisp white dress shirt with a black tie. His work uniform. It tended to keep people guessing. And guessing was good. A few extra seconds could mean the difference between being stomped to jelly or not, some steroid case busy wondering, What kind of loser wears a tie with steel-toe boots?
He was, after all, a professional.
Who’d come to do a job.
That involved a body.
Wrapped in duct tape and hanging from the goalposts at the end of the football field.
THE PRIVATE DICK HANDBOOK, RULE #1
People have problems. You can solve them for cash.
Dalton needed to figure out why The Body was at the morgue instead of snoring its way through algebra. Then he’d get paid. But until a big wad of folding green was tucked safely into his boot, he was Salt River’s newest transfer fish.
“Nice tie, asshat!” someone yelled. Kids began to crowd around, hoping for a scene, but Dalton ignored them, turning toward a chrome sandwich truck in the corner of the parking lot. His cropped hair gleamed under the sun, dark eyes hooded with a practiced expression. Long hours of practice. In the mirror. Going for a look that said justifiably ruthless.
Or at least ruthless-ish.
THE PRIVATE DICK HANDBOOK, RULE #2
Be enigmatic. Be mysterious. Never explain.
The sandwich truck’s awning sagged. The driver sagged with it. There were rows of chocolate donuts that looked like they’d been soaked in Ebola. There was a pile of cut-rate candy with names like Butterfingerer and Snuckers and Baby Ralph. A big sign on the counter said NO CREDIT—DON’T EVEN ASK!
“Hey,” Dalton asked. “Can I get an apple on credit?”
The driver laughed like it was his first time ever. “WhatcanIgetcha?”
“That’ll be twenty even.”
Dalton considered not paying—ten minutes on the job and already over his expense budget. But people were watching. He grabbed the cup, flash-searing his palm, and took a sip. It tasted like coffee-colored ass. People laughed as he spat it out in a long, brown sneeze.
“It’s a seller’s market,” the driver admitted. “No one eats in the cafeteria no more.”
“Caf’s Chitty Chitty,” answered a kid who seemed to have materialized out of nowhere, hair poking from his scalp as if it were trying to escape. He cocked his thumb like a pistol and fired off a few imaginary rounds. “As in Bang Bang?”
The kid selected a donut. “Or, you know, maybe the food just sucks.”
Dalton needed to check out the crime scene. First stop, football field. The kid followed, plump and sweaty, huffing to catch up. He held out his knuckles for a bump. “My name’s Mole.”
Dalton didn’t bump back.
Mole sniffed his fist and then shrugged. “So, you affiliated, new guy?”
“Ha! That’d be a first. You must be with someone, yo. No one transfers to Salt River alone.”
Dalton pushed through dumped girlfriends and dice nerds, hoodie boys and scruffy rockers twirling Paper Mate drumsticks. People mostly made way, except for an expensively dressed girl who towered over her speed-texting posse.
“Lu Lu Footer. Your basic Armani giraffe. Also, she’s head of Yearbook.”
“That a clique?”
“They’re all, Hi, my book bag’s shaped like Hello Kitty! They’re all, Hi, I crap pink and green polka dots!”
Lu Lu Footer glared. Mole ducked as they passed a circle of large girls in black. “Plaths,” he explained. “Total down-in-the-mouthers.” He pointed to a girl in hot pants. “But check her out. Used to be a Plath and now she’s flashing those Nutrisystem legs like no one remembers last semester.”
Dalton rounded the edge of the building and stood under the goalposts. They were yellow and metal. Tubular in construction. Regulation height. There were scratch marks in the paint that could have come from a coiled rope. Or they could have just been scratches. Dalton wanted to consult the paperback in his back pocket, The Istanbul Tryst and the Infant Wrist. It was a Lexington Cole mystery, #22, the one where Lex solves a murder at a boarding school in the Alps. But he wasn’t about to yank it out with people around.
“You ready to bounce?” Mole asked nervously. “We’re not really allowed to stand here, yo.”
Dalton wondered what he was looking for. A map? A videotaped confession? Lexington Cole would already have intuited something about the grass, like how it was a nonnative strain, or that its crush pattern indicated a wearer of size six pumps.
“Yeah, see, this whole area, it’s sort of off-limits.”
Music blared as football players emerged from the locker room. They slapped hands and joked loudly and ran into one another with helmets clacking. Except for the ones not wearing helmets, who banged skulls anyway. Some of them weren’t wearing shirts at all, just shoulder pads. Their cleats smacked the pavement in crisp formation.
“I take it that’s the welcome committee?”
Mole dropped to one knee, retying his shoes even though they had no laces. “Don’t look directly at them!”
“Who are they?” Dalton asked, looking directly at them.
“The Balls. Between them and Pinker Casket, they pretty much run the show.”
“Football. Your Salt River Mighty Log Splitters? Their random violence level is proportional to the number of points surrendered the previous game. And, guy? We got stomped last week.”
“Your vocabulary has mysteriously improved. What happened to the ‘yo, yo, yo’ routine?”
“Comes and goes,” Mole admitted.
Dalton turned as the Balls busted into a jerky line of calisthenics. “Who’re you with again?”
“The brain contingent?”
Mole gestured toward the picnic tables, where kids sat reading biology texts and grammar worksheets. The girls wore glasses and sensible skirts; the boys, sweater-vests and slacks. “You can’t swing a Siamese around here without smacking a nerd in the teeth, but, yeah, they’re my people.”
“Thanks for not saying my peeps.”
“Looks like your peep could use some help.”
One of the players, built like a neckless bar of soap, yelled “Chuff to Chugg… touchdown!” as he pushed a Euclidian into the mud. The kid struggled to get away, slipped, and then knocked over a shiny black scooter. Other cliques were already jogging over to see the action.
Dalton looked at his watch. “Well, that didn’t take long. Nineteen minutes.”
Mole grabbed Dalton’s arm. “Seriously, guy? You want to leave those Balls alone.”
It was true. Dalton wanted to go home and lie in bed and pull the sheets up to his chin. He wanted to eat pretzels and sweep crumbs with his toes. But then he thought about Lex Cole. And the fearless pair of stones Lex Cole toted around in his impeccably ironed slacks. He also thought about last night, counting up the money he’d managed to save so far. Twice. And how both times it wasn’t nearly enough to save his brother.
Dalton pushed through the crowd, working his way past assorted pleather windbreakers and nymphets in yellow cowl. The football players turned as one, like it was written in the script: Test the New Guy II, starring Dalton Rev. He stood before a glistening wall of beef, a collective four dollars’ worth of crew cuts. The shirtless ones showed off their abs and punched each other’s shoulder pads like extras from a version of Mad Max where no one shaved yet.
Dalton waved. “Hi.”
Just like the Spanish Inquisition, no one ever expected friendliness. The players stared, chewing mouthpieces in unison, as a girl emerged from the crowd and began helping the Euclidian up. She had a blond pixie cut, a tiny waist, and a tinier skirt.
“Leave him alone, Chance!” she told the player doing the pushing. “Please?”
Dalton liked her voice, low and calm. And her eyes, almost purple. Sharp and intense. She stood with her hips forward, like a chorus girl who’d come to the city with a suitcase full of spunk, ready to do whatever it took to save Daddy’s farm. It was one very cute package. Actually, in both Dalton’s professional and decidedly unprofessional opinion, she was beautiful.
THE PRIVATE DICK HANDBOOK, RULE #3
Doing free things for beautiful girls is never the smart play. In fact, it’s always a colossal mistake. Avoid doing free things. Avoid beautiful girls. Continue to charge maximum fees and take cold showers.
“This is none of your business, Macy,” the largest Ball said, getting up from a lawn chair. Dalton had thought he was already standing; the guy looked like a giant walking Krispy Kreme, one big twist of muscle. His head was shaved. A simian hairline hovered just above his eyes, radiating a hunger for raw veal. He was clearly the one person, out of Salt River’s entire student body, to be avoided at all costs.
Dalton walked over and helped Macy help the Euclidian up.
The kid spat mud, then ran toward the school doors, trying not to cry. Macy mouthed a silent thanks and followed him on adorably sensible heels.
“You’re standing on my field,” the Krispy Kreme growled.
Dalton turned. “That make you the groundskeeper?”
The crowd drew a collective breath. A few of the more brazen laughed aloud. The Krispy Kreme flexed, dipping to show the name sewn across the back of his jersey: JEFF CHUFF, QB.
“You got a problem, new fish?”
“Your Ball is mistreating my ride.”
The Crowdarounds turned, looking at Dalton’s scooter lying in the mud.
THE PRIVATE DICK HANDBOOK, RULE #4
Never let anyone mess with your ride. Conversely, feel free to mess with theirs, especially if there’s a chance they’ll be chasing you on it later.
Chuff laughed. “So? Have your mommy buy another one.”
Dalton lifted his crisp white button-up. Underneath was a T-shirt that said THE CLASH IS THE ONLY BAND THAT MATTERS. When he lifted that as well, everyone could see the worn grip of his silver-plated automatic. The hilt was wrapped with rubber bands to keep it from slipping down his pants, a little trick he’d learned from chapter 6 of The Cairo Score. Just like the scooter, the gun was shiny and mean-looking.
“You’re strapped?” Chuff wheezed, stepping back. “That’s bloshite. Ever since The Body, we got an agreement.”
“Like one of those abstinence ring things?”
“A pact. All the cliques. Us and Foxxes and Yearbook. Even Pinker Casket. No guns.”
“Huh,” Dalton said, fingering his gun. “Or what?”
Chuff’s eyes scanned the rooftop. “When Lee Harvies find out you got a pistol on campus, they’ll let you know or what. You’re lucky, only your leg’ll get ventilated.”
“It’s true,” Mole said, appearing out of nowhere. “Lee Harvies aim to keep the peace.”
Dalton shook his head. “Let me get this straight. You got a clique that keeps other cliques from carrying guns by shooting at them?”
“Used to be cops in the lot four days a week,” Chuff explained. “Hassle this, hassle that, badges and cuffs. Calls to parents. We all realized it was bad for business.”
“So you have an agreement,” Dalton said. “What I have is a scooter in the mud.”
“And it needs to not be there anymore.”
Birds tweeted. Bees buzzed. Grass grew.
“People lose teeth talking like that.”
“People get shot talking about other people’s teeth.”
Chuff looked around. The rest of the Balls shrugged. Dalton flicked the safety.
“I got a full clip. You factor in a miss rate of twenty percent and I am still about to seriously reduce your available starters for next practice.”
Chuff rubbed his oven-roaster neck, then grudgingly lifted the scooter with one hand, setting it upright.
THE PRIVATE DICK HANDBOOK, RULE #5
The thing about tough guys is they tend to be as tough as you let them be.
“Now wipe it off.”
Chuff didn’t move. His jaw worked like he was gnawing shale.
“It’s a bluff!” Chance Chugg yelled.
Dalton whipped out the automatic. The Crowdarounds panicked, pushing backward as a big-haired girl stood on the fringes with a cigarette in her mouth fumbling for a light. He stuck the gun in her face and pulled the trigger. A wail went up, followed by a raft of curses and screams.
But there was no bang.
Instead, a small butane flame licked out of the end of the barrel. Dalton held it steady, lighting the girl’s cigarette. The crowd roared with relief and giddy laughter.
“It’s a toy?” Chuff yelled, already running forward.
Dalton began a mental inventory of the Lex Cole library. At this point, the bad guy usually made a series of threats, gave a face-saving speech, and then walked away. Except Chuff wasn’t walking away. He was picking up speed.
Pang pang pang!
Shots spattered through the dirt. Chuff veered wildly left, crashing into bags of equipment. From the roof came the reflection of a scope blinking in the hazy morning light.
“LEE HARVIES!” someone yelled, and there was chaos, more shots picking up the dirt in pairs, friends and enemies scattering. Plaths formed a black beret phalanx. Sis Boom Bahs circled like tight-sweatered chickens. The Balls dragged a groggy Chuff into the locker room as everyone shielded their heads, ducking into the relative safety of the school.
Dalton didn’t run. He knelt among the churning legs and slid his finger over a bullet hole in the grass. There was a streak of sticky red. It could have been blood. It smelled a whole lot like vinegar. He stood and scanned the rooftop, catching a glimpse of a bright white face. It wasn’t a face, it was a hockey mask. A Jason mask. The mask looked down at him, just a plastic mouth and nose, black eyes surrounded by silver anarchy symbols.
It was totally, utterly, piss-leg scary.
The rifle rose again. This time Dalton covered his head and ran inside like everyone else. Even in One Bullet, One Kill Lexington Cole hadn’t thought it smart to go mano a mano with a sniper.
Excerpted from You Killed Wesley Payne by Beaudoin, Sean Copyright © 2011 by Beaudoin, Sean. Excerpted by permission.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
Go Lee Harveys! Love that clique, it's the coolest ever. Can't go wrong with peace keeping snipers.
Product DescriptionHe's come to do a job. A job that involves a body. A body wrapped in duct tape found hanging from the goal posts at the end of the football field. You Killed Wesley Payne is a truly original and darkly hilarious update of classic pulp-noir, in which hard-boiled seventeen year-old Dalton Rev transfers to the mean hallways of Salt River High to take on the toughest case of his life. The question isn't whether Dalton's going to get paid. He always gets paid. Or whether he's gonna get the girl. He always (sometimes) gets the girl. The real question is whether Dalton Rev can outwit crooked cops and killer cliques in time to solve the mystery of "The Body" before it solves him.Sean Beaudoin (Going Nowhere Faster, Fade to Blue) evokes the distinctive voices of legendary crime/noir authors Dashiell Hammett and Jim Thompson with a little bit of Mean Girls and Heathers throwin in for good measure. It'll tease you, please you, and never ever leave you. Actually, that's not true. It's only a book. One that's going to suck you in, spit you out, and make you shake hands with the devil. Probably.Ok, I give up. I¿m throwing in the towel. As my husband and most people who know me will attest, it is a very rare occurrence for me to not be able to finish a book. I received an ARC of this book back in early December and I¿ve been struggling with it every since. Perhaps it¿s because I¿m not a teen (but I read and enjoy quite a bit of young adult/teen novels without any problem.) Maybe I¿m just not the right person for this book. I couldn¿t figure out what the author intended with this book. Was a futuristic story with a throwback to the vintage pulp noir? Was a cynical commentary on teens and how high schools operate? I don¿t know. I do know that the book gave me a headache every time I tried to read it. I did like that Beadoin included a chart/index with descriptions of all the different cliques, but I hated that I had to keep referring to it and still could not keep everything straight. I really wanted to like this book. I thought it was going to be a wonderful teen mystery (I love mysteries and did I mention I really like young adult/teen novels?). But I can¿t fight it any more. The truth is I dislike the book so much I can¿t finish it. I found the writing to be disjointed and confusing. And horror of horrors, I couldn¿t find one character I remotely liked.In the interest of fairness, I am hoping to find a teen that will read the book and give me their take on it. It¿s possible that as an adult I just don¿t get it. If I do, I¿ll ask them to provide a guest review.
You Killed Wesley Payne was just too much for me. While in the midst of being surrounded by Beaudoin¿s originality and creativity I was lost more than once, and bored a good third of the book. After finishing the book I was a little ticked off. There¿s a thin line between a great plot twist and some random bloshite* and Beaudoin tip toes his way back and forth on that line.You Killed Wesley offers readers some extras: a clique chart and index, a glossary because readers will really need this, and a few original Dalton stories. On screen this is a brilliant idea. On paper the chart is complicated, difficult to follow, with bolded text, bigger bolded text, and lines crisscrossing whichever way. The index was massive blocks of text that after two full paragraphs I gave up entirely. The glossary and extra stories I had no qualms with. Those I enjoyed immensely especially with the continuation of Dalton¿s side notes and remarks. With the actual body work of the novel the language is the first thing I picked up on. Some reviewers called it neo-noir. I have no idea what that means and will not pretend otherwise, but as I stated previously, the glossary will help out immensely. Secondly I noticed the lack of authority figures and the amount of violence and corruption there is in the book. Dystopia, anyone, within a high school setting? That¿s a new one for me. Continuing through, readers find scenes dealing with relationship issues¿parental, siblings, and opposite sex wise. Realistic, almost contemporary fiction? I¿m a fan of contemporary. So You Killed Wesley Payne was imaginative, definitely something I haven¿t particularly read, with two possible genres that I¿ve enjoyed before, with a murder mystery at the forefront; what¿s not to love? The answer to that question is the pace. The heavy text, the random dialogue that does not fit, and the slow crawl with no action set the book back so far. In the end I did not enjoy You Killed Wesley Payne. There is a big audience for the creativity that You Killed Wesley Payne demonstrated, but I am not part of that audience. *a term originated by Beaudoin
Dalton Rev begam a private investigator to earn money and send body armor to his brother's unit fighting on the Middle East Front. Invited to solve a mystery in a neighboring high school, he finds himself enmeshed in intrique involving teachers, administors and students in a variety of different cliques with names like Pinker Casket, Foxxes, Silverspoon and the Balls.
This is a young adult mystery written in the noir mode. Dalton Rev who idolizes fictional detective Lex Cole has come to Salt River High School to find out who killed Wesley Payne. He finds himself mired in the corruption at the school. The teachers are on the take. The cliques are running the place. No can be trusted and no one can be believed. This is a novel of very dark humor just perfect for someone who loves the work of Raymond Chandler or Quentin Tarantino. It had some great one-liners and descriptions that were very Humphrey Bogart in the Maltese Falcon. I could recognize how clever the book was but I didn't love it. My sense of humor doesn't slant that way. I thought it was more dumb than funny.
It really must be an internal struggle for YA authors when deciding whether or not to swear (use curse words) in their books. On one hand if you do you risk offending a share of your audience, and potentially limiting readership, but on the other you risk quality of dialogue. Usually YA authors tend to go the cleaner route. Some do it seamlessly, while others truly suffer in readability. Never has this seemed more Apparent than in Beaudoin's You Killed Wesley Payne. Close approximations are used continuously ("shite" and "farck" come to mind), which eventually grated on my nerves and seemed to enjoy doing so.However, there is more to this book than just foul, errr, appropriate language. I thought the first 20-30 pages of this book were awesome, really had me sucked in, and then somewhere it just lost me. I've been trying to pinpoint where, and can't decide on a particular spot. It might be the work as a whole being totally unrealistic that did it. I think kids would want to read a book like this for some sort of connection to their own lives, and their lives at school. I cannot imagine any student feeling much of an affinity to the story. A prevailing theme in the book is the all-invasive high school cliques, and sure every high school has cliques, but not to the strength of Beaudoin's groupings, something that YA readers will identify quickly. Also, the characters are only partially developed, and the parts that are developed are not particularly endearing. And to wrap it all up, the reader discovers at the end that Beaudoin withheld information that the main character knew all along, which really doesn't fit with the narrative format. I felt cheated out of effort and time. I would be willing to try a second of Beaudoin's books based on the beginning of this one, but will be wiser to heed my feelings of putting it aside after significant signs of disorientation.
You Killed Wesley Payne by Sean Beaudion is about a private investigator named Dalton Rev. He's hired by Wesley Payne's siter to find out who killed Wesley. Everyone thinks it's a suicide, but then again everyone knows he was murdered. Since the day Wesley was killed everyone at Salt River High has pretended that he wasn't even there.Now Salt River High is not your usual school. It's full of cliques and every clique has a secret. They all want to out rival each other to become the ruler of the school.This book is filled with tons of twists and turns.You never know what's gonna happen. It left me guessing the whole way through. I literally didn't know who killed him until the book told you:)!
I really liked You Killed Wesley Payne. I usually don't really like mystery books, but this book is making me rethink my viewpoint. It was all about an young investigator trying to buy body armor for his military brother. He has done all sorts of cases, but gets the one that could finally get him enough money to get the armor for his brother at Salt River High. This twisted tale of double crosses and secret agents entranced me from start to finish. This is easily one of the best books I have read so far.
Not hat gret at all
SPOILER ALERT SPOILER ALERT This book has the worst twist ending ever! Just out of curiosity why would the sister want to hire a detective, if she was the murderer herself! I was already ruled a suicide by police, so why hire a detective. You are basically hiring someone to catch you! Just doesn' t make any sense. That made me really dislike the book. Also, personally it was way to unrealistic, and I understand that that was the way it was written. However, at some point it just doesn't appeal to the reader.
I love a good mystery and this book did not disappoint. The characters are something else and I love them because they have flaws and Dalton isn't the perfect guy, he's a believable character. I couldn't put it down when I started reading it because I could never tell what would happen next and I had to know. I will admit that the cliques confused me a bit, but after rereading about them I finally figured it out. The ending blew my mind, I hadn't expected anything that had happened and I loved it. The creavity is awesome and the twists kept me interested.
Luved it Hilarious espesialy if you read the glossere and the clique index Highly recamended
I loved this book it males you experience the clue finding and problem solving along with dalton as he serches for the person who killed wesley payne. I got this book from the library and loved it. Great for anty age over 12 but i am 14 and greatly enjoyed the book.
I will have to say that my first initial reaction to this book would be...umm wow that was different. This is my first novel by Sean Beaudoin, so I don't know if all his books are this strange. I have it a 2.5 because part of me liked the concept of the story though the other part couldn't wait for it to be over. I will be completely honest, I don't think I have ever read a crime noir novel. I have read mystery's, thrillers, suspense, all involving crimes, etc, but nothing like this. Dalton is a teenager who has become the man of the house so to speak. His older brother left to be in the military, his father has lost his job and sort of his mind. So its up to him to take care of his mom and younger brother. He becomes a private detective and transfers around to different school solving problems. He gets a case that brings him to Salt River High School. Its a school with so many Cliques it is hard to keep track of even with a chart. He is there to solve the mystery of who killed Wesley Payne a populah (its a clique) What he finds is a school full of corruption. The Balls and Pinker Caskets are sort of the top Cliques and they are both wanting to take over the school and will do just about anything to see the other one go down. The principal is as bad as everyone else and nobody seems to see anything going on. Dalton really can't trust anyone if he wants to keep himself alive and well lets face it he really isn't all that great of a detective. The story was unique to anything I have ever read before, but I thought the characters were a bit lacking. I never really cared much for Dalton or any of the people in the story. They were just there to bring the story along. I think there was just to many cliques and things going on to really have a fully developed good story. The story was full of off the wall name and way to many slang words. When a book has to come with a dictionary something is horrible wrong. I guess the book sort of reminded me of one of those stupid comedy movies and I really am not into those and I am a bit leery of trying another book by this author but I might. If you like crime noir novels or wacky off the wall books with a tone of funky dialogue and slang then you might really like this book. Not really making a recommendation but if you like anything from what I said about this book then by all means give it a try yourself.
I never recommend reading the last page first, but for this book, that is a must! The last few pages of the book condense all of the characters into an easy to follow form. There are so many cliques and factions to follow that it makes the reading so much more pleasurable when you know exactly who is doing what to whom. This is a crime caper that takes place in an alternative universe where bribes with school officials are common place and crime is the name of the game in high school. I think this will appeal to boys who are difficult to please. It is told with such snark and sarcasm that I was in heaven. The characters are something out of cartoon and this would probably make an excellent movie.
I am always desperate to find books that both my kids and I will like. YOU KILLED WESLEY PAYNE satisfies all our needs. It is funny, fast, original, and well-written. The characters are wacky in the best ways, yet totally believable. You won't want to stop reading and might even start all over again once you get to the end!
It has been many years since I visited the waters of Young Adult fiction. On the recommendation of a friend, I dipped my toe back in with Sean Beaudoin's "You Killed Wesley Payne," and Good Lord, am I glad I did. YKWP walks the fine line of being smart without a tedious disaffected and jaded overtone. It is funny in a realistic and intelligent way, and the plot moves both quickly and unpredictably, which makes it a bullet train of a read. The characters fall into over-the-top exaggerations of high school stereotypes, but each one has depth and sincerity that make them both fun and believable. Dalton Rev, the detective protagonist, is sharp-witted and well-schooled in the areas of literature and music, yet Beaudoin encases him in all the awkward insecurities that plague the average high schooler, making him intensely likable. His boyish fascination with fictional detective Lex Cole is a hilarious theme running throughout the story (and the titles of the Lex Cole book series are comic triumphs in and of themselves). Picture a high school that is the intersection of the movies "Heathers" and "Escape from New York." The students run the school with a mixture of violence, unwritten rules and little governance from adults or the faculty. Everyone is running some kind of racket- even some bandages from the school nurse will require the greasing of the RN's palm. Guns, while temporarily banned, raise no eyebrows, and a team of masked snipers ("the Lee Harvies"), keep the peace from the school roof. Jocks ("Balls") align against Rockers, as a bloodthirsty battle for school supremacy unfolds with a host of sub-cliques pushing the action forward in a blur of sharp dialogue and hairpin plot twists. As the title implies, the death of Wesley Payne, a popular student, is the underlying mystery, inviting the arrival of Dalton Rev, who is far closer to Joseph Gordon-Levitt's character from the movie "Brick," than he is to Encyclopedia Brown. Navigating through the tight-knit cliques, would be girlfriends, law enforcement, and a decidedly unprincipled Principal, Rev runs into beatings, dead ends, deceptions and mysterious clues from anonymous helpers. The ending is fantastic- well told, believable, and full of a few twists that I did not see coming. Brilliantly, Beaudoin continues to reveal some additional mysteries with a one-two punch that will leave the reader smiling, satisfied, and eagerly awaiting Rev's next case. I could not put this down.
This isn't just a great YA book, this is a GREAT book, period. For one thing, it is the rare novel that is consistently hilarious throughout. I laughed on the first page and pretty much never stopped. It's a murder mystery, with a ton of really cool, original characters, especially Dalton Rev, who has to solve the crime. Who did kill Wesley Payne? I didn't know right until the end, and it yanked the whole floor out of everything, but in a good way. Hey, the real reason this book is better than any book I've read this year, is how original it is! That counts a lot with me. Some book sells a lot of copies and then there's fifty new ones that are just like it. YKWP is not like anything else. It's the like writer created his own language, except that it all makes sense (with the help of the rude glossary at the end). Tons of slang and insults. A body. A very very hip detective. The extremely hot Cassiopeia Jones, who is the head of FOXXES, a clique of hottie girls. God, I love this book so much. You're crazy not to read it!