You Killed Wesley Payne is a black comedy disguised as a neo-noir crime novel set in the rough locker rooms and mean hallways of Salt River High. The hero (anti-hero) Dalton Rev transfers in to solve the mystery of a body found hanging from the goalpost at the end of the football field. It just so happens that the body is Wesley Payne. For a fee, and maybe Wesley’s cute sister, Dalton is prepared to go up against The Balls (the football team) and Pinker Casket (the rocking campus band). Not to mention one very curvy redhead, also the head of the school, Principal Inference. There’s cliques, danger, loot, wisecracks, and femme fatales. There’s Foxxes and Plaths. Here’s ten words that perfectly describe You Killed Wesley Payne:
2. Fedora Wearing
3. So Metal.
4. Young Lust.
There’s girls, guns, grift, garage rock, and guffaws. Even though I’ve never much liked the word “guffaw.” Also, Dalton is trying to get into Harvard. Since I was paid by the sentence, much of the book is unnecessary. For instance, there’s forty-plus pages of back-matter, including a slang glossary. Here’s an example of one of the glossary entries:
Sitting On Your Ham |ˈsettin’ on yah hem |
1. Being lazy. Coasting. Parking your donk at the end of the bench and refusing to move. Trading up three jeans sizes in one semester. Ordering a pair of McGriddles to go with your order of four McGriddles. Flipping channels. Adding a few more broken lamps to the pile of junk that’s already flowing out your big ol’ steamer trunk.
USAGE SENTENCE: “Get up off of that ham right now, young lady, and come help swab your brother!”
Essentially, You Killed Wesley Payne is the mystery novel you’ve been dying to ask on a date for months, but haven’t worked up the nerve. It’s at once a sly satire, a neck-slap, and a redemptive love story. It goes down like a Four Loko milkshake, but comes up lighter than air.
It’s possible that it’s the best book written.
Fyodor Dostoyevsky and I will decide that question in a Madison Square Garden cage match later this summer. Until that time, you can take my word on it. I’m not cramming forty-six grams of soy protein down my gullet and doing a thousand quad presses every day for nothing. Get your tickets now.
So, in summation, You Killed Wesley Payne is pretty much everything you’d expect from Just Another Debutante Novel. In fact, we almost decided to call it Gossip Boy. Or, another suggestion was Dalton Rev’s Slightly Effeminate Professional Demeanor. That was ultimately shot down by a focus group, but for a long time it had its adherents on the editorial board.
Hey, tell you what, if you buy a copy of this book, I will treat you to a maple bar the next time you’re in Seattle.*
* Offer of maple bar is contingent on county laws and customs, lawyer’s recommendations, and author’s actual willingness to follow through on promise, which may be negligible, depending on your level of interest in spending many post-pastry hours listening to author whine about his bad back, mean agent, and desire to own a cat even though he has severe cat allergies. All rights and restrictions apply.
Sean Beaudoin is the author of Going Nowhere Faster, Fade to Blue, and You Killed Wesley Payne. His stories and articles have appeared in numerous publications including Glimmer Train, The New Orleans Review, The Nervous Breakdown, the San Francisco Chronicle, the Onion, Instant City, The Rumpus, Opium, Barrelhouse, Redivider, Narrative, and Spirit: the In-flight magazine of Southwest Airlines. He is currently working on a collection of short stories and a crime fiction novel. Visit his website, www.seanbeaudoin.com.