©2012, Dutton Children’s Books,
In his third outing as an author of juvenile fiction, John Grisham is showing a practiced hand. Not only is the hero (Theodore Boone, Kid Lawyer) a likable young man, he is also extraordinary. How many thirteen year old boys are all but partners in their parents’ law firm? How many are liked by everyone? How many smarter than the entire staff of their Junior High School? Well . . . in real life probably none. But in Strattenburg, there’s only one – Theo Boone!
Opening paragraphs of The Accused call on readers to remember TheAbduction (Theo’s sophomore appearance) with the beginnings of the re-trial of Pete Duffy for his wife’s murder. But the defendant has disappeared. [Readers who missed the first two books in the series will want to catch up with Theo’s cases from the very beginning.]
What follows is not focused on Duffy (although his case is a running thread throughout the story), but rather on Theo’s travails as a victim of sabotage, vandalism, and framing. We know that he’s innocent, his parents and uncle know he’s innocent, the faculty and administration of Strattenburg Junior High know he’s innocent. In fact, it seems that everyone knows that Theo is innocent except for the police.
A couple of things are disturbing about this book: the helpless feeling the reader gets as his hero is being hounded by the police as well as his stalkers (this can be chalked up to the good writing). Perhaps even worse, though, is the thought that police can enter a school and use the same bully tactics which one sees on television with a thirteen-year-old. And this without his parents or lawyer (in this case both might be the same) present—and when the parents do enter the scene, they make no fight for a minor having been treated so. [Note: since I am not an expert in the law or in police procedure, I would not claim to know the legality of this—I just find it disturbing.]
On a lighter side, readers will enjoy the moment from
Animal Court. It
provides a needed rest from the struggle of fighting an unknown assailant, and
gives more than a laugh or two.
Again, Grisham fans will be satisfied, as will suspense and young adult mystery readers. The writing is on par, the action is compelling and the characters are well-developed. I give Theo Boone’s third story The Accused four out of five reading glasses.
—Benjamin Potter, March 26, 2013