SNEAK PEEK PREVIEW: You Killed Wesley Payne

You Killed Wesley Payne by Sean Beaudoin; published by Little, Brown & Co., New York, 2011; 360 pages.

NOTE: This review is based on an ARC (advance reading copy) provided for free by the publisher.  The publication information is subject to change.  Expected release date: February 2011.

The name’s Rev, Dalton Rev.  He’s a private dick, investigating the death of Salt River High student Wesley Payne.  Salt River is loaded with dames, racketeers, and tough guys.  “You killed Wesley Payne” is Rev’s greeting for suspects Jeff Chuff (quarterback), Kurt Tar0t (lead singer of Pinker Casket), and even members of the school staff.  Rev is also challenged to figure out the mysterious Macy Payne, Wesley’s sister who hired the private dick.  With other femme fatales, friends with names like “Mole,” and his own family drama, Dalton Rev has his hands full with this case.

Oh my Bob, it took me more than a week to get past the first few, or ten, chapters. When I spent, like, hours trying to figure out the Clique Index and Chart at the beginning of the book, my mind was set: This was going to be a difficult read. But then I re-read the jacket flap: “You Killed Wesley Payne is a truly original and darkly hilarious update of classic pulp noir….”   “Hmmm,” I thought.  “Maybe I’m overthinking this thing.”

Duh.

Once I let the humor and atmosphere trump the plot, I was hooked.  Immediately hooked.  I let the emotions, descriptions and teen-muddled noir references wash over me; and I got carried away.  Then, before I knew it, the plot unfolded, I was trying to figure out the mystery and was able to keep the characters straight without referring to the blasted clique list.  But don’t get me wrong.  The Clique Index is as important to telling the story as the Glossary and other extras included at the end of the book.  They help us figure out Dalton Rev, perhaps the biggest mystery of the book.

Those willing to let the words flow without thinking too hard about plot will be richly rewarded by this book.  If you’re a literal reader, strong on plot, allow yourself to be emotionally attached to the book and you won’t regret it.  Maybe Beaudoin will make this the first in a series, much like the Lexington Cole detective books that Dalton Rev collects.  I’d follow this hard-boiled detective through more cases.

4P     4Q     Grade Level: 9-12

Cover art: The very retro look of black on silver is intriguing.  Even the avatar for Rev is interesting.  The cover art does reflect the noir atmosphere of the book.

From Reading List: ARC (advance reading copy), On the Edge of Your Seat (Mystery, Suspense, Thriller)

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