Guy Langman, Crime Scene Procrastinator is part mystery, part family drama, and part day-to-day high school adventures of geeky slacker guy. It's an unusual mix, but one that works. After Guy's 70-something father dies, Guy joins the forensics club at school. He also starts writing a book containing various pithy maxims of his much-traveled, larger-than-life dad. He soon run across several potentially intersecting real-world mysteries (including a potential murder attempt). Together with his friends (and fellow geeks) from forensics club, Guy attempts to pull it all together, and pull himself out of an extended period of depression.
Guy has a great voice. He's over-the-top lazy, and funny in spite of his depression (Crime Scene Procrastinator is much more about black humor than sadness). Like this:
"I had a bunch of tissues. Before we left the house (for the funeral), I jammed my suit pockets with them until my pockets were bulging cartoonishly, like I was a shoplifter swiping throw pillows. The last time I bought a suit was for my bar mitzvah, so it hardly fit. I looked ridiculous. I knew that. I had two whole boxes of tissues in there. I feared I'd need them all. I was wrong. I needed more." (Page 1)
"After Social Studies, Anoop and I go to lunch. School lunch sucks. Ever since the "healthy lunch" program began last year, there's no more pizza, burritos, barf-a-roni, tots o' tater, or even those awesomely gooey chocolate chip cookies. We can't even have peanut butter anymore, because one kid is allergic to peanuts and apparently can't be in the same room with even a dab of PB&J without having his face explode or something." (Page 13)
Guy's is definitely a teen boy voice. There's another kid who is called "Penis-head". There's a documentary with "boobs ... flopping around like pizza dough." There is a scene in which Guy resists going up to the front of the classroom, for a particular reason (though not explained in painful detail), etc. These things don't dominate the book, but they definitely make it more YA than middle grade. And they make Guy Langman, Crime Scene Procrastinator more boy book than girl book (though there are two strong girl characters, and no reason at all why girls wouldn't enjoy all of the forensic science discussed in the book).
The plot in Crime Scene Proscrastinator meanders a bit, and I saw most of the twists coming. But it's nice to see a book that makes science (forensic science) cool, and relevant. Also, Guy Langman, Crime Scene Procrastinator is life-affirming without being didactic (as Guy comes out of his depression), and tackles real subjects without letting go of humor. Recommended, particularly for high school libraries.
Publisher: Knopf Books for Young Readers (@RandomHouseKids)
Publication Date: March 13, 2012
Source of Book: Library copy on Kindle (but quotes checked against finished review copy from the publisher)
© 2012 by Jennifer Robinson of Jen Robinson's Book Page. All rights reserved. This site is an Amazon affiliate, and purchases made through Amazon links may result in my receiving a small commission (at no additional cost to you).