An Oklahoma City high school loser becomes an amateur detective.
Sixteen-year-old Dylan Jones has no game. He’s pudgy, wears semi-ironic band T-shirts and a porkpie hat, and has a Wimpy-like affection for hamburgers. He gets no respect from his peers until he discovers the body of fellow student Hector Maldonado in a Dumpster near the school. His resulting investigation gains him some notoriety, but soon the douchebags at his school dub him “body bag” instead of hero. Dylan then vows to regain his mojo by putting his sleuthing skills to use to search for a wealthy missing teenage girl from the other side of town. There, he and his BFF Audrey are caught up in a web of deception, lies, cruelty, murder and juicy hamburgers. There’s not a damn thing wrong with Tharp’s third offering: It’s dead-on. Characterizations are pitch-perfect. He harnesses loser teenspeak like no other author, and Dylan drops several quotable one-liners that teen readers will totally respect. They’ll also love the two best friends who help him along the way: Audrey, who finds her first girlfriend on the fancier side of the tracks, and impulsive, loudmouthed, lovable Randy, who always gets Dylan into trouble. Finally, Tharp’s plotting moves swiftly and succinctly; he injects just the right number of left turns and amount of humor to keep his readers guessing and laughing.
Flawless fun. (Mystery. 12 & up)