In a narrative laced with lighthearted and self-deprecating humor, 14-year-old Cyril MacIntyre relates a crime story disguised as a lesson in legal terminology.
Cyril’s young, tough-talking single mother, Andy, incorporates Cyril into everything she does, including taking him to law school when he was 10 and installing him as receptionist for the two-woman law firm she lands at. When Byron Cuvelier, a one-handed man who shares a mysterious past with Andy, shows up and moves in with them, it’s clearly blackmail as far as Cyril is concerned. So when Andy disappears, that naturally sets Cyril to sleuthing, and his secondhand legal training is just part of what he needs to unravel the case. (Each chapter is introduced by a legal term that sets up the action.) The story is set in Halifax, Nova Scotia; Cyril, Andy, and Byron are white, while Andy’s lawyer mentor is South Asian, and many among their clientele are minorities. The characters are not as simplistic as they initially seem, as first impressions are peeled away. Despite Cyril’s tough talk, the narrative is clearly intended for an audience that will expect and enjoy the rosy ending indicated by the confident tone throughout. (Amusingly, Andy’s cusswords are bleeped in the dialogue.) While the satisfying denouement doesn’t make complete sense in terms of the characters, it is completely in sync with the mood.
Fast-paced and funny with brief but crucial hiccups of legal learning. (Mystery. 10-14)