By Sean Beaudoin, Little, Brown Books for Young Readers, $16.99, 368 pages
At Salt River High, the cliques rule the school. But when Euclidian member Wesley Payne is discovered hanging upside-down from the goal posts, wrapped in duct tape, fingers point toward two high-level groups: the Balls, football players with revved up muscles, and Pinker Casket, a group of rockers who aren’t afraid to inflict pain. Even Inference, the principal, and her band of Fack Cult T are wrapped up in Sean Beaudoin’s entertaining and enjoyable young adult crime noir novel, You Killed Wesley Payne.
Teenage hero and private detective Dalton Rev transfers to Salt River, hoping to solve the murder and nab that special girl who seems to have eyes for him. Peril and danger intersect, causing havoc for the inept-but-ingenious private eye.
One of the best parts of the book is inside the dust jacket. Beaudoin shares a clique flow chart that will help readers keep up with and understand the subculture of this carefully-crafted high school experience. Beaudoin takes a risk weaving mystery and good, old-fashioned crime noir, but the gamble pays off. You Killed Wesley Payne is a smart, funny, roller coaster ride that blends pop culture, teenage angst, and a collection of adolescents wanting to fit in. Clever, witty banter between characters and crazy theories about the crime’s perpetrator make this a whodunnit you won’t want to miss.
Reviewed by LuAnn Schindler