For those who haven’t already met Grisham’s courtroom kid, Theo is an American schoolboy with a quick intellect, a staggering store of legal knowledge and bags of ‘attitude.’
In fact, he feels more at home in the courtrooms of downtown Strattenburg than he does in the classrooms of his local high school.
The precocious only child of two high-profile lawyers, Theo has come of age and his creator has found a firm footing in teen fiction since their first celebrated outing last year.
As he treads unfamiliar emotional territory in The Abduction, we find young Theo warmer, wiser, wittier and much more in thrall to the joys of friendship and, dare we say it, female friendship.
Feelings are running high, therefore, when his best friend and confidante, April Finnemore, is abducted in the dead of night from her home.
The police are baffled because all the windows and doors were locked and there’s no sign of a break-in.
The last person she rang was Theo but he has promised April he won’t tell anyone that her mother had left the girl alone and terrified for the last two nights while her father was out of town.
Theo learns that April’s uncle, a shady character called Jack Leeper who was sentenced to life for kidnapping ten years earlier, has escaped from prison and the word is he’s in the Strattenburg area.
Even more worrying is the discovery that April, who felt sorry for her uncle, has been writing to him.
As fear ripples through the city and the police hit dead ends, it’s up to Theo to use his legal knowledge and investigative skills to chase down the truth and save April.
Grisham is not afraid to tackle adult themes like drug abuse and child neglect while producing a page-turning thriller and maintaining a fine balance between light entertainment and serious enlightenment.
Theo is fleshing out as a likeable lad – smart and obsessive but with recognisable human frailties and a hidden heart of gold.
Plenty of good reasons then to stay on his case...
(Hodder, paperback, £6.99)