You Killed Wesley Payne
Little, Brown Books for Young Readers
Dalton Rev is new at Salt River High. But he’s not just a transfer student – he’s there with a purpose. Wesley Payne, apparently the only likable guy at Salt River is dead, and Dalton Rev, Private Dick, has been hired to find out who killed him. Making his mission, and life in general, more difficult is the complicated network of cliques who run the school. The school is ruled by The Balls – the football players – and Pinkerton Casket, a goth-punk band, but those are just two of the many cliques. Even the teachers (The Fack Cult) are in on the game.
You Killed Wesley Payne is one of the weirdest, funniest, and most original books I’ve read in a long time, and it’s definitely a Best Book of 2011. It’s Raymond Chandler meets Clueless. Beaudoin constructs an entire complicated system of cliques and clever slang vocabulary. It’s rare to read such a stylized book that feels so natural; it’s easy to believe the characters in You Killed Wesley Payne actually think, talk, and act the way Dalton and the others do. Beaudoin pays homage to gritty detective novels borrowing their staccato rhythm and wry observations, but Dalton lacks all the slick moves of his detective novel hero. Although he does his best to play it cool, there are hilarious cracks in his world-weary demeanor. The book is brimming with pop culture references; I’m sure I only got a handful of them. It’s definitely for older teens, partially because of the mature-ish content, but mostly because I think younger kids won’t appreciate the edgy humor.