The Fugitive (Theodore Boone #5), by John Grisham

Five stars (of five)

Grisham returns with another Theodore Boone novel that will have adults and youths alike talking and speculating. On his eighth-grade trip to Washington, D.C., Theo Boone spots a local criminal on the lam, a large reward tied to his recapture. Pete Duffy is wanted for murder back in Strattenburg, having fled during his retrial. During a brief reconnaissance mission, Theo is able to assist the FBI with Duffy’s recapture, using a disguise to protect his identity. If only that were the end of the story, Theo could rest easily. Back in custody, Duffy may formally face retrial for the murder, with a witness whose testimony will likely seal Duffy’s fate. Theo must convince Bobby Escobar, an undocumented worker, to testify while ensuring his identity remains shielded, as well as his own while Duffy’s goons seek revenge. As Theo watches the legal process in action, he learns a great deal about the rights of the accused and limits set forth in the Constitution. After receiving mysterious pressure to flee, Bobby Escobar does just that, leaving Theo to try coaxing him back without pressuring the State’s witness. Theo does all in his power to ensure Duffy does not get a second mistrial, a guaranteed dismissal of the murder charges. But, does this thirteen year-old legal beagle have what it takes to keep justice from flying off the rails? With a great narrative and some highly humourous moments, including a trip to Animal Court, Grisham presents a stellar tale of Theodore Boone: Kid Lawyer, and a cliffhanger that will leave readers screaming until next spring.

Having recently finished another author’s series dabbling into the world of young adult fiction, the difference is staggering. Grisham has a firm handle on the legal world and how to relay it to younger audiences without making it seem watered down or completely silly. Theo Boone is your typical (or as close to it) middle-school kid with his own interests and dislikes. The reader can relate to the situations presented and the legal matters are realistic, presented in such a way as to excite rather than bore the audience. Grisham’s annual foray into the Boone world is one I enjoy and cannot say I want to end anytime soon. With active dialogue, great narration, and a cast of interesting characters, Grisham has a series on his hands that could go on for years to come, without becoming stale. As he finds new ways to entertain his adult audiences, surely there are a myriad of cases that younger readers could find themselves fixated to as well.

Kudos, Mr. Grisham for another successful Theo Boone novel. Don’t stop the momentum.