Thursday, January 20, 2011

You Killed Wesley Payne by Sean Beaudoin

Dalton Rev is a hard-boiled, er, teenage who's just transferred to Salt River High, the most corrupt high school around.   Cliques rule the school, teachers expect to be bribed, and of course the cops are crooked.  Dalton is searching for the killer of Wesley Payne, who was found dead and duct taped upside down to the football goal posts.  The case has been ruled a suicide, but Wesley's sister has brought Dalton in to find out the truth.  Relying heavily on his knowledge of Lexington Cole mysteries, Dalton attempts to find Wesley's killer, locate $10,000 that's gone missing, and end the clique wars.  All while trying not to piss off his mother too much.

This was OK.  I didn't love.  This might be because like the day before I read this, I'd re-watched The Sting.  Man, the movie is amazing.  It is so good.  It all comes together so mind blowingly well.  Can anything ever live up to it?  The answer is no.  And while it's more about con artists, not detective, it's in a similar style and it's just so well done.

I had a hard time buying in to this.  Salt River High is a place where there are people shooting off the roofs into crowds of kids, the principal, secretary and teachers are all excepting bribes from the students.  There are three million different cliques that are constantly beating the crap out of each other.  You have police punching kids in the face.  And it was done in that noir style, but the world of cops, detectives, murderers and prostitutes with hearts of gold felt really forced in the world of high school.

I also found the plot confusing.  Dalton is suppose to be finding out who killed Wesley Payne, but then he's also suppose to find the money that went missing from the principal's safe, and then he gets pulled into this whole clique war thing.  The clique war thing is really what I really was having trouble following.  Why did The Balls and Pinker Casket feel like they needed to take each other out?  Why did Dalton feel he needed to fake a deal between the two of them?  That part felt weak to me.

There were some things I didn't see coming, which I enjoyed.  You always need to have some surprises in a mystery.  People who were actually secretly working for other people the whole time and so forth.  And the Clique Index complete with flowchart at the beginning of the book was excellent.  I also loved the ridiculous titles of the Lexington Cole mysteries Dalton would refer to, which got more and more ridiculous as the book went on.  Just to give you a taste: Fjord of the Flies and Ten Stories up on the Windblown Ledge of Desire.

You Killed Wesley Payne comes out on February 1st.

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