Guy Langman, Crime Scene Procrastinator
by Josh Berk
Review: High schooler Guy Langman's latest crush is Raquel Flores. She's interested in forensics so of course he is too, until he realizes that forensics is actually a science and he's not so keen on science in Guy Langman, Crime Scene Procrastinator, a cross-genre stand-alone for young adults by Josh Berk.
The title suggests that this book might be categorized as a "mystery", but that element is really just one of several that are explored, though it is probably the dominant one. From this perspective, there are two interrelated subplots. Guy's father recently died and while sorting through some of his possessions he finds a photograph of his father and someone a bit older than Guy himself. His mother claims she doesn't know the young man in the photograph, but for some reason Guy can't let it go. After his house is broken into and some things stolen, Guy is sure there is a connection. Separately, during a forensic field trip, the body of a young man is found, who looks suspiciously like Guy. At first Guy thinks it's his teacher, Mr. Zant, playing a trick on him until he realizes it isn't. "This is not an impressive fake corpse. This is a real live corpse. I mean a real dead corpse. Whatever, it's the 'real" part that is important. Also the 'corpse' part."
Guy Langman, Crime Scene Procrastinator is a rather uneven book … and since it is narrated by Guy himself — including reporting his feelings into a diary — it may be intentionally so. The life of a teenager is a series of ups and downs, and it's entirely possible that this book is intended to mirror that cycle in some way. Still, the "ups" outweigh the "downs", with Guy's banter with his best friend Anoop and frequent observations on what's going on around him keeping the narrative light and humorous. The application of forensics to the mysteries in the story is well executed, particularly early on when Guy is still learning that there aren't four "ensics", each one of which having a different function. (To be sure, the second mystery doesn't kick in until well past the half-way point, so Guy is more familiar with what to do then.)
This is a rapidly paced book, but at times it seems there is almost too much going on here. Then again, that might too be intentional given how busy the modern teenager's life is. The target audience is clearly 15- to 17-year-old boys — the language, while not overly coarse, may be a little too rough for middle school aged readers — and in particular those, who might not have yet settled on a preferred genre and enjoy books that don't easily fit into a niche category.
As of the date of this review, no Lexile measure has been assigned to this book. The publisher simply lists it as being appropriate for teens.
Acknowledgment: Random House provided a copy of Guy Langman, Crime Scene Procrastinator for this review.
Review Copyright © 2012 — Hidden Staircase Mystery Books — All Rights Reserved
Selected reviews of other mysteries by this author …
Strike Three You're Dead
Knopf (Hardcover), March 2013
ISBN-13: 9780375870088; ISBN-10: 0375870083
Location(s) referenced in Guy Langman, Crime Scene Procrastinator: New Jersey
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Guy Langman, Crime Scene Procrastinator by Josh Berk
Publication Date: March 2012
List Price: $16.99
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Page Author: Lance Wright
Site Publisher: Mysterious Reviews
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