Guy Langman, Crime Scene Procrastinator, by Josh Berk

I absolutely loved Josh Berk's first novel, The Dark Days of Hamburger Halpin, so my hopes were high for his second, Guy Langman, Crime Scene Procrastinator. Like Dark Days, it's a mystery/coming-of-age story told from a convincing teen-boy perspective, complete with bouts of insecurity, an obsession with the opposite sex, and a positive gift for saying the wrong thing at any given time.

The titular narrator of Guy Langman, Crime Scene Procrastinator is a motor-mouthed class clown whose larger-than-life father has recently died. In an effort to distract himself from his grief (and, okay, meet girls), Guy joins his high school's forensics club. He's not having much luck on either the grief or girl front, but when a club trip leads to the discovery of a real murder victim at a fake crime scene, he decides to put his new forensics skills to good use.

This book isn't perfect, but there are so few good YA books written for guys that over-criticizing the few that I'm sent is like seeing a unicorn and complaining that its coat is the wrong color*. The actual mystery in Guy Langman is pretty weak, but Guy's relationships with his fellow club members, his best friend, and his family members are complex and interesting enough to make up for it. Plus, his voice is note-perfect; I found myself thinking longingly of Ritalin and muzzles in one moment, and genuinely laughing the next. (Just like I do with real teenagers!) Berk is carving out a niche for himself as a funnier, less melodramatic answer to Chris Crutcher—one of the rare writers who can make both comedy and drama palatable to teenage boys.

*That analogy might have made more sense in my head, but I'm sticking with it.

Review based on publisher-provided copy.
Posted by: Julianka


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