Sean Beaudoin

Enough excellent writing to fill a large tube sock

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You Killed Wesley Payne

By Sean Beaudoin

February/ Ages 12 & Up/ $16.99

ISBN: 978-0-316-07742-2

Seventeen-year-old Dalton Rev’s arrival in the Salt River High parking lot is loudly announced by the growling of his motor scooter’s muffler. When he dismounts and unzips his leather jacket, his white shirt and tie make it clear that he will not be easily categorized into one of the school’s many cliques. That is good, because he has come to solve the murder of a student, hired by the victim’s sister. Dalton moves into a cynical, and sometimes dangerous, teen world where students pay off teachers, administrators, and each other to get what they want. Navigating the complicated social strata, moving ever closer to the real killer, Dalton refers frequently to the sardonic sayings in his Private Dick Handbook, a feature of his own hero, the fictional detective Lex Cole.

 Poking fun at detective novels, guy lit, and teens themselves all in one novel is a tall order, but the author pulls it off. Just when the reader begins to think that 368 pages is going to be too much wisecracking patter, the author lets Dalton’s mask slip to reveal his feelings and insecurities. With just-right pacing, suspense builds to Dalton’s ultimate success and a bittersweet resolution. Then, in a hilarious coda to the main plot, Dalton’s little brother, Turd Unit, proves to be the best detective of all. A chart of the Salt River High cliques in the front and a tongue-in-cheek glossary of the book’s highly inventive slang at the end add to the satirical fun of this multilevel spoof.

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"The curves are a smoke screen, I tell myself. Inside she’s a bag of hard edges. And I, Ritchie Sudden, am prepared to eat sheet metal."

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