Sean Beaudoin

Enough excellent writing to fill a large tube sock

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      This review will run in December 2010 issue of BOOKLIST


You Killed Wesley Payne.

By Sean Beaudoin

February 2011/ Ages 12 & Up/ $16.99

ISBN: 978-0-316-07742-2

 

The cliques rule the rackets in Salt River High. The two top outfits, the Balls (football players, “wearers of no-irony crew cuts”) and Pinker Casket (thrash rockers, “most appropriate for funerals or virgin sacrifices”), are hurtling towards a turf war, and all the assorted mid-level cliques (and even the crooked Fack Cult T) are constantly looking for an angle to ride to prominence. At the center of the maelstrom is a body, Wesley Payne, a former member of the Euclidians (nerds, “fingertip sniffers”), who was found wrapped in duct tape, hanging upside-down from the goalposts. Teenage private dick Dalton Rev arrives to sort out the murder, locate a missing hundred grand, and if everything rolls his way, ride off into the sunset with the adorable Macy Payne. Beaudoin plays a Chandler hand with a Tarantino smirk in this ultra-clever high-school noir, dropping invented brand labels on everything from energy-drink ingredients (Flavor Flavah) to the Almighty (“Oh my Bob!”). Ever checking his moves against what his crime-novel hero, Lexington Cole, would do, Dalton himself is so straight hard-boiled, it’s screwy: “Dalton played it cool. He played it frozen. He was in full Deano at the Copa mode.” But in the end, none of the stylistic pastiche and slick patter would matter if they weren’t hitched to such a propulsive mystery, with enough doublecrosses and blindsiding reveals to give you vertigo. Moreover, the opening “Clique Chart” might just be the funniest four pages you’ll read all year.

 

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