Pete Duffy’s murder trial is about to begin; however, when Duffy disappears the night before his trial, the town wonders where Duffy went. Theo was hoping to follow Duffy’s trial, but when strange men begin following him and the police accuse him of robbery, Theo becomes consumed with finding out who has it in for him.
Because Theodore tells his own story, the reader has the opportunity to feel Theo’s confusion and fear, which helps to build suspense. As the story progresses, the suspense is created in a way that will allow younger readers to be interested but not frightened.
The Accused has surprises, humor, and positive adult-child relationships. The story is easy to read and the engaging mystery will appeal to both younger and older readers. Although this book is part of the Theodore Boone series, The Accused can be enjoyed without having read the previous books in the series.
The only downside is Theo’s Uncle Ike, who convinces Theo to steal the password to his parents’ case files. Afterward, Theo feels guilty and wants to tell his parents. However, Ike convinces him not to because it’s not dishonest to not tell. Ike continues rationalizing dishonesty by saying, “We all have our little secrets, and as long as they’re harmless, who really cares? With time, the secrets often go away and things don’t matter anymore.”
- The plot discusses the trial of Pete Duffy who is accused of murder. Some boys in Theo’s class discuss the disappearance of Pete Duffy. “Another had Pete Duffy murdered by drug lords.”
- Someone throws a rock through a window and almost hits Theo.
- Several boys at school get into a fight, including Theo. “Woody lunged with a right hook that landed perfectly on Baxter’s face. Baxter, to his credit, managed to land a solid punch before both boys locked each other in death grips and tumbled to the floor.”
- Ike tells a story about when he was younger and was being bullied. He filled his lunch pail with rocks. “He was about to punch me when I suddenly swung the lunch box and hit him in the face. Hard. I mean it was a nasty blow that cut a gash in his cheekbone. He screamed and fell down and I whacked him a few more times in the head.” At the end of the story, Ike says, “I should have used my fists and nothing else.”
Drugs and Alcohol
- Theo’s uncle drinks beer. “Theo knew he drank too much . . . Two or three times he had picked up on comments that suggested Ike Boone struggled with the bottle, and Theo assumed this was true. However, he had never witnessed it.”
- Theo thinks about “Spike Hock, a kid who lived one block away and was caught selling drugs in the ninth grade and spent eighteen very unpleasant months in a juvenile detention center. . .”
- Theo thinks about a family because the sister was “arrested for drugs.”
- A boy in the story “was caught with marijuana and went through Youth Court.”
- At church, the pastor’s sermon expands on the eighth commandment. The pastor talks about how it is wrong to steal, including “stealing time away from God, family, friends. Stealing the gift of good health by pursuing bad habits. Stealing from the future by missing opportunities in the present.”