This is the first Theodore Boone novel by John Grisham that I’ve read and is the second in the series. Theo is a delightful character who will introduce young people to the exciting aspects of the court system, including Animal Court, as well the starker side of life for some teens whose families are a little too eccentric to make a stable environment.
Theo is a smart and resourceful 13-year-old with good friends who include a computer geek named Chase and a brilliant, sensitive artist named April. His parents are both lawyers: Woods, the real estate lawyer, and Marcella, who practices divorce law. He is an only child and is very proud of his parents who, although protective of him also allow him much freedom and foster his interest in becoming a lawyer and possibly a judge when he grows up. Theo has his own office at his parents’ firm with access to its large law library and spends every spare minute — which sometimes means skipping his grade 6 classes — watching real trials, and sometimes he’s called upon to represent a friend in Animal Court.
In this episode, Theo’s friend April has disappeared in the middle of the night and Theo’s family have been called to help with details about April to assist in their investigation. April’s mother has been absent for several days (and nights), her father gone for more than a month, and when Theo last spoke to her the night before, she was pretty scared being home alone and had barricaded herself in her bedroom. Now she’s gone, no sign of forced entry, her mother is hysterical (not funny), and by midday the whole town will be worried that she’s been kidnapped. When a body show up in the river and April’s distant cousin, an escaped con serving time for kidnapping, is known to be in the area, the investigation takes a wrong turn and it’s up to Theo, with the help of his Uncle Ike, to find April and bring her home.
There is a lot of humour in the novel to offset the danger and an especially cool part concerning a hilarious parrot in Animal Court. Chase, the computer geek, comes up with some ingenious scenarios to cover-up his friend’s absence (Theo is supposed to be spending the night with Chase while his parents are away at a law conference) while Theo and Ike speed off to find April, and there’s a happy ending for all.
Theo is kind of Frank Hardy, Nancy Drew and Brains Benton all rolled up in one and updated to the 21st century. Anyone who likes mysteries and animals will love this wholesome, fun, and suspenseful novel by the master of mystery, John Grisham. * * * * *