Second Look: Guy Langman: Crime Scene Procrastinator by Josh Berk

Note: Guy Langman: Crime Scene Procrastinator will be released on March 13, 2012. 

The Story: Meet Guy Langman: Lazy, unmotivated, and purveyor of some really corny jokes. Guy can’t think of one reason why he would want to join the after-school Forensics Club, but still his best friend Anoop talks him into it. Over the course of several meetings, Guy, Anoop, and a handful of other misfits find themselves learning the ins and outs of fingerprinting, handling evidence, and chain of custody.

It’s all pretty cool, until someone breaks into Guy’s house and steals his recently deceased father’s treasure (and yes, it is real, legit TREASURE). It gets even weirder for the would-be crime solvers when they compete against Forensics Squad members from a rival school, and one of the squad members turns up dead with a fingerprint linking him to the burglary at Guy’s house. Surely this is a case for… (dun, dun, duuuuunnnnnnnnn!) THE FORENSICS CLUB!

The Low Down: After the awesomeness that was Josh Berk’s debut novel The Dark Days of Hamburger Halpin, I was expecting more of the same from Guy Langman. Sadly, I was slightly disappointed. That’s not to say Guy Langman isn’t good, because it is. The mystery is fun (though slightly predictable), the one-liners are hilarious, and I approved of the shout out to my hometown (even though it was referenced as a place where someone was arrested on an assault with a deadly weapon charge… which actually seems about right). In my humble opinion, though, it just doesn’t have the depth that Hamburger Halpin has in terms of the storyline. Berk’s writing hasn’t changed, but the complexity of the story seems a lot more shallow. Then again, that might make it more appealing to teens who don’t want to invest their time into a lot of deep drama.

In the interest of full disclosure, I have to give this one an official parental advisory warning. The jokes are great, but are raunchy and usually penis-related. There’s also a smattering of “that’s what your mom told me last night” type jokes (all of which, I will not lie, made me giggle like the immature adult I am). But really, what do you expect from teenage boys? To be honest, that’s as true a dialogue as I’ve ever heard in a YA book!

The Bottom Line: While not as great as Hamburger Halpin, Josh Berk’s signature quirky sense of humor comes through loud and clear with many laugh-out-loud moments. Pair that with a good mystery and some inappropriate-but-oh-so-funny boner jokes, and you’ve got a decent sophomore effort in the form of Guy Langman: Crime Scene Procrastinator.



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