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You Killed Wesley Payne    by Sean Beaudoin Amazon.com order for
You Killed Wesley Payne
by Sean Beaudoin
Order:  USA  Can
Little, Brown & Co., 2011 (2011)
Hardcover, e-Book

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* *   Reviewed by Ricki Marking-Camuto

In a market flooded with paranormal romance, mean girl novels, and typical coming-of-age stories, it is refreshing to see an author try to break out of the model - as Sean Beaudoin did with You Killed Wesley Payne. Not only is the pulp noir genre a unique one to pick for YA, it has also faded from mainstream adult novels over the decades.

Aided by his Private Dick Handbook, Dalton Rev transfers to Salt River High at the bequest of Macy Payne to find out who killed her older brother, Wesley. The cliques at Salt River are more concerned with racketeering than anything else, and the faculty and administration is on board as well. Dalton disrupts the scene as soon as he enters, making more enemies than friends, even getting on the wrong side of law enforcement. Nothing, though, is as it seems especially not beautiful femme fatale Cassiopeia Jones who broke onto the scene with a new clique shortly before Dalton arrived. Dalton must use all of his skill or lack thereof to wade through the muck and mire of Salt River High politics and find out who did kill Wesley Payne.

The idea behind You Killed Wesley Payne is unique and original, but the execution fell a little flat. Beaudoin obviously spent massive amounts of time developing the world of Salt River High and background support for the character of Dalton Rev as evidenced by the elaborate clique chart at the front of the book and the pages of bonus material at the end. However, the story itself did not always flow smoothly as leads bounced around and Dalton seemingly ineptly accused multiple people of being the killer ('You killed Wesley Payne' became his catch phrase, but he was not developed enough for me to figure out if he was just grasping at straws or had a method to his madness). The novel was action-packed, but the denouement went on a little long as so many loose threads needed to be tied up and were not resolved with the unmasking of the real killer.

For those looking for something different in the YA section, You Killed Wesley Payne by Sean Beaudoin is a good pick. However, if you are looking for hard-boiled classic detective pulp noir, stick with the paperback you find at thrift shops and used book sales.

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