________________ CM . . . . Volume XV Number 5. . . .October 24, 2008


Res Judicata.

Vicki Grant.
Victoria, BC: Orca Books, 2008.
180 pp., pbk., $12.95.
ISBN 978-1-55143-940-2

Grades 6-10 / Ages 11-15.

Review by Kristin Butcher.

*** /4

Reviewed from Advance Reading Copy.



Chuck Dunkirk had little mashed potato spitballs hanging all over that mountain man beard of his. I know it has to be hard keeping food in your mouth when you're missing most of your teeth and everything, but I got the feeling he wasn't even trying. I mean, the guy was like a snow blower.

I'd cooked and cleaned and peeled for three hours, all in preparation for finally meeting the famous Chuck Dunkirk. I couldn't let a little pre-chewed potato come between me and a new board. I had to make nice.

We were all squeezed around our puny kitchen table. Biff and I had dragged it into the living room so everyone would have a place to sit. Atula Varma, Andy's law partner, and Chuck got the place of honor on the love seat. The rest of us each got a kitchen chair and enough room for one elbow on the table. All I can say is it was a good thing Biff spent most of his time in the kitchen. Chuck wasn't a little person. He was as tall as Biff but, as my geography teacher would say, "had a much larger land mass." To tell you the truth, he kind of looked like Santa's younger brother, the one with the criminal record. He had the whole bowl-full-of-jelly thing happening and the beard too, but you could tell by Chuck's face that life hadn't been as cushy for him as it was up at the North Pole. He had no front teeth, a big doughy nose and bags under his eyes that—no kidding—looked exactly like those raw chicken breasts I'd spent the afternoon stuffing.


Cyril F. MacIntyre is at it again. In this follow-up to Quid Pro Quo, he is two years older, though not much taller, a bit more rebellious, equally curious, and still playing private detective. Because Cyril's single mom, Andy, is very young—just thirty—Cyril has a lot more freedom and is sassier than most 15-year-olds, and because Andy is a lawyer, Cyril has a good working knowledge of the law. All of these factors play a part in landing him in more trouble than he knows what to do with.

     This installment finds Andy with a boyfriend—the first Cyril can recall—and though he initially dislikes Biff, it doesn't take him long to change his opinion. For one thing, the guy cooks and cleans—two activities Andy rarely partakes in, and for another thing, Biff has a decidedly positive effect on Andy's disposition. As a result of both these things, Cyril gains an inkling of what normal life might be like.

     Early on, Andy becomes the defense attorney for Chuck Dunkirk, a down-on-his-luck janitor accused of murdering a wealthy inventor. Andy's efforts are successful, the death is deemed an accident, and Chuck is acquitted, at which point he and Andy decide to sue the police for wrongful arrest. It's a long shot, but Andy is all about the underdog and jumps into the case with both feet.

     But Cyril doesn't like Chuck, and as one suspicious event leads to another, he is soon devoting himself full-time to proving Chuck isn't the innocent victim he seems. In the process, Biff and Andy split up, Cyril's video assignment for school is stolen, he gets food poisoning, Biff starts stalking him, and he becomes chummy with the dead man's wife.

     Like the first Cyril novel, Res Judicata begins each chapter with a legal term that somehow relates to the content of the chapter, and Cyril's legal smarts dictate his actions. Cyril makes a colorful narrator. He has a unique way of looking at things and expressing them to the reader, though his glib manner of speaking becomes a bit annoying after a while—for this grown-up anyway; younger readers might have no such difficulty. Grant's style of storytelling is reminiscent of the Polly Horvath books—fun but not quite realistic, though Grant's efforts are a bit less silly. The plot moves along briskly, and there's never a dull moment, but the reader never completely buys what Grant is selling.

     Those who enjoyed Quid Pro Quo, will not doubt be equally entertained by this sequel.


Kristin Butcher lives in Campbell River, BC, and writes for young people.

To comment on this title or this review, send mail to cm@umanitoba.ca.

Copyright © the Manitoba Library Association. Reproduction for personal use is permitted only if this copyright notice is maintained. Any other reproduction is prohibited without permission.
Published by
The Manitoba Library Association
ISSN 1201-9364
Hosted by the University of Manitoba.