Book review: Theodore Boone by John Grisham

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He’s not so much a legal eagle as a fledgling in full flight!

Teen attorney Theodore Boone is the creation of courtroom king John Grisham and he’s on the case of a cold-blooded killer.

Young adult fiction is a new venture for lawyer-turned-author Grisham and his 13-year-old hero, the star of a brand new series, is a smart, obsessive, all-American kid who can sniff out a villain at 10 paces.

The precocious only child of two busy lawyers, owner of a motley mutt rather aptly called Judge and born from a long line of legal experts, it seems Theo’s destiny was mapped out before he was even born.

He does have a human side – he loves Cheerios, hates his mum calling him ‘Teddy’ and can’t wait to shed his dental braces – but he is positively geeky when it comes to the law.

While his classmates dream of getting tickets to the big game or concert, Theo lives for the big trials and, courtesy of his connections, often gets the best seat in the house.

He lives in the small city of Strattenburg where murder is rare so when family friend Judge Henry Gantry presides over the trial of Peter Duffy, accused of strangling his wife, the courtroom is packed.

There’s not a soul in the city who doesn’t know that Duffy had a good motive – he stands to receive a million dollar pay-out from an insurance policy on his wife – but the evidence is shaky, mainly because of a lack of witnesses.

Theo has always worked on the theory that a man is presumed innocent until he is found guilty, but he is disturbed to discover that Duffy has hired an unsavoury ‘armed thug’ as his bodyguard during the trial.

The prosecution claims that Duffy killed his wife and then tried to make it look like a burglary - and Theo is finding it difficult to give him the benefit of innocence.

When an illegal worker tells Theo in confidence that he has evidence that could blow the case wide open and prevent a guilty man walking free, there’s a dilemma for the budding young lawyer.

The witness is too scared to talk and won’t take the stand...should Theo keep the secret and let the trial be lost, or should he take matters into his own capable hands?

Theodore Boone is not a cuddly kind of hero – he’s far too clever for that – but he knows the law inside out, has a good sense of humour and gets things done.

His courtroom dramas look set to run and run.

(Hodder, paperback, £6.99)