Dalton Rev makes waves on his first day at Salt River High, managing to tick off the leaders of both of the most powerful cliques. While he knows that'll make his life a little more difficult, he's not all that worried -- or surprised -- as a private investigator's life is filled with trials.
Dalton's got his PI uniform (black tie, white shirt) and his PI wheels (a mostly-reliable black scooter), his Private Dick handbook (self-penned and constantly evolving) and the complete set of Lexington Cole mystery novels on his side.
He's been hired to find out who killed Wesley Payne, a young man who was apparently -- impossibly? -- an independent operator in a high school where Labels Define All. Obstacles include: most of the school (including a possibly-sadistic principal), a gang of masked gunmen, the local cops, his ex-girlfriend and his monster of a little brother.
And then there's that guy in the pin-striped suit that's been lurking around...
You Killed Wesley Payne features excellent chapter headings:
Chapter 19: Clique. Click. Bang.
the aforementioned Private Dick Handbook:
The Private Dick Handbook, Rule #34
Just stick your head out and see.
It'll be like a cartoon and you'll get your hat shot off.
Except, oh wait, you're not wearing a hat.
some great slang, which is compiled in a hilarious glossary:
"Freebird" |'frē burt |
1. "Freebird" is the title of a song. The band that played it is still touring, even though they all died in a plane crash in 1977. This seeming contradiction does not change the fact that for years there was always someone in a crowd at any given show who would yell out "FREEBIRD!" either ironically or with genuine hope, mostly because it's sort of a twenty-six-minute hillbilly onanistic solo-jam extravaganza. And also because people holding six-dollar lite beers tend not to be particularly original.
and joke after joke right in the text:
"Take a sniff," Hutch told him coolly, scratching neck stubble like he was in a procedural show where the cops examined microscopic evidence and spotted little clues that less attractive and less perceptive cops somehow missed.
While the book is a send-up of the hard-boiled detective genre, it's clear from the range of one-liners* that Sean Beaudoin knows his stuff and is an extremely observant guy. In small doses, I enjoyed this book hugely.
When I read for longer stretches, though, the constant barrage of wink, wink, nudge, nudge got old, and ultimately, I felt that substance was forfeited for style, and that the satire overshadowed the characters and the storyline**. I seem to be in the minority in feeling that, though, judging by the ratings at Amazon. I've seen some comparisons to the movie Brick, and while the parallels are certainly there on the surface, Brick was stronger, in that it was successful in bringing noir to the present day without sacrificing character development or emotional impact.
But make up your own minds, obviously. You might totally, completely, unreservedly love it, in which case you are welcome to come back here and call me a humorless boringface.
*The pinstriped suit-wearing guy? Is named Elisha Cook. A line that made tea come out of my nose. Which was gross.
**While it's flawed, I do think that in the right hands, this book could get developed into an awesome television series. Like, Veronica Mars crossed with the bright colors of Glee (well, the first season -- I gave up on Season Two) and... I dunno. Some other stuff.
Book source: ILLed through my library.