Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Self-Defense: The Accused: Theodore Boone Series (Book 3) by John Grisham

Theo knew it was wrong, maybe not illegal, but certainly wrong.

The line between right and wrong had always been clear; now, though, nothing was clear. The wrongs were piling on top of him. It was wrong for someone to break into his locker and plant stolen loot with the obvious goal of getting him in trouble. It was wrong for someone to stalk him, to slash his tires and throw a rock through his window. Theo had done nothing wrong, yet was now being treated like a criminal. And if Theo were to be charged by the police, another wrong would occur. Was it wrong for Theo to steal a password, all in an effort to prevent another, much larger wrong?

Could doing something wrong lead to the right result?

Theo Boone knows that someone is out to get him. Accustomed to being on the sunny side of the law and order line, Theo Boone, kid lawyer, finds himself accused of a major felony, the forcible entry and burglary of an electronics store. When his school locker appears to have been vandalized and his favorite baseball cap stolen, Theo figures it is just part of a bully's on-going harassment. Running late, he puts off reporting the theft to the school office, and when four stolen netpads are found in his locker, the police seem certain they have the right felon.

Theo deduces that the planted goods are part of the chain of events--three slashed bike tires and a rock thrown through the window of his parents' law office, obviously meant to intimidate him--and he is certain that someone is out to exact revenge upon him and through him on his parents, but who and for what? With everything coming down on him, Theo knows that the only way he is going to escape being the defendant himself in a trial for robbery is to find the real thief first.

Theo turns to his sometime mentor, his disbarred, ne'er-do-well Uncle Ike, who shrewdly deduces that someone in his school is exacting retribution for a nasty divorce case handled by his mother. But to determine which of his classmates is holding that deep a grudge requires that Theo obtain the password to his mom's secured files. Can two wrongs make a right in this case?

As in most of his adult fiction, the protagonist in Book 3 of his Theodore Boone series, Theodore Boone: The Accused (Theodore Boone: Kid Lawyer) (Dutton, 2012) doesn't always play it by the book, operating in the gray areas of right and wrong, going for what he sees as the greater good. It's easy to pick holes in the author's somewhat Swiss-cheesy plotline, and it is fair to point out that often Theo behaves and talks more like one of Grisham's thirty-something heroes than a middle school kid, but Grisham is first and foremost a storyteller, and once he's laid down his premise, the reader is off and running in one of his fast-moving page-turner legal thrillers. Likened to such staples of the juvenile mystery genre as Encylopedia Brownand Nancy Drew, Theodore Boone combines the qualities of Leroy and Nancy with a generous dose of Perry Mason and a dash of Grisham's iconic renegade hero Mitch McDeere.

Oh, and as for the resolution of the case against the golf course murderer Pete Duffy, indicted by the work of Theo Boone in the series opener, Theodore Boone: Kid Lawyer, readers are going to have to wait for Book 4. Accused wife murderer Pete Duffy disappears without a trace on the night before his trial opens, so we'll have to wait for the next sequel, to give our busy kid lawyer a shot at bringing this perpetrator to justice.

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