'You Killed Wesley Payne' by Sean Beaudoin

Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial Library - Central Library

'You Killed Wesley Payne' by Sean Beaudoin

You Killed Wesley Payne by Sean Beaudoin
I am afraid I’m a bit late with this type of review. October was the month for mysteries and suspense, not November. But it’s not a crime, is it?  Well, if we were at Salt River High, it just might be, unless we could pay off the right people. Find out what I mean in You Killed Wesley Payne by Sean Beaudoin.
 
Your bicycle been stolen? Think your students might have been getting answers to the test before they took it? Then call Dalton Rev, Private Dick. He’ll solve any case so long as the money is legit -- and a cute girl is a good incentive.

Dalton Rev's latest case takes him to Salt River High, the most corrupt school in the area. Here, everyone is part of a clique, and every clique is up to their neck in illegal activities, including the Fack Cult T. Dalton’s been called in to investigate the death of Wesley Payne, which the Snouts have ruled is a suicide. But his sister Macy thinks that there’s something else to it, especially with a hundred grand missing from the principal’s safe. It doesn’t take long before Dalton starts a war between the jocks and the rock and rollers. But that might be just what he needs to find out exactly who is the crook responsible for Wesley’s death.
 
Despite the weirdness of a noir-style story in a modern high school setting, this tale really works. Part of the reason for its success is how human and realistic Dalton is. While he tries to put on the tough guy persona, he cares deeply for his family, especially his brother fighting overseas. He acts tough to keep everyone else at arm’s length, and isn’t even considering the possibility of doing anything else because he knows how much his family depends on him.

Many other characters in the story are over the top and absurd, especially the leaders of the cliques. No one is who they appear to be, especially if they have a link to Wesley’s past. There are a lot of tongue-in-cheek jokes that adults will appreciate just as much as the teens who read this book, if not more so. The fact that everyone wants money to do anything is ridiculous.

If you do get lost in the story, there is extensive back matter to help you through it, including a chart of the cliques, glossary of the book’s unique slang, and some of Dalton’s writing, all free of charge. It should be read both before and after the main story to be fully appreciated. Any teens who love mysteries will something to appeal to them in this book.
 
You Killed Wesley Payne is recommended for mid- to late-teen readers. Check it out along with other books by Sean Beaudoin at MLK Library or your local DC Public Library branch today.
 
-- Brandon Digwood