CM . . .
. Volume XI Number 16 . . . . April 15, 2005
Quid pro quo is a fun read. Though there is a mystery to be solved and a looming threat of danger, the reader is never really concerned about the story’s outcome. In this novel, it isn’t the destination that is important, but the trip, and Cyril makes a most entertaining tour guide. His relationship with his mother, Andy, is unusual to say the least. Sometimes it is difficult to say which of the two is doing the parenting, but the fact that mother and son care deeply for one another is never in doubt. Andy is firecracker, and it is her short fuse that gets her in trouble. But she is also very bright, and she leaves a trail of clues for Cyril, confident that his own smarts will allow him to figure them out – which he does.
Of course, there is a supporting cast of equally bizarre characters to round out the mix: Byron, the one-armed blackmailer from Andy’s past, Consuela, the Spanish-speaking maid with a secret, Atula, Andy’s shoot-from-the-hip boss, Bob Chisling, the unlikely bad guy, and Kendall, the skate-boarding ladies’ man who Cyril aspires to emulate.
The novel is constructed around Cyril’s knowledge of the law, and each chapter title is a legal term referring to the contents of that chapter [eg. – chapter nine “Alias” (Latin) A false name]. The plot works well, with just one exception. In the final scene, all the characters find themselves imprisoned in the men’s washroom of a ritzy yacht club, and the bad guy, who, if apprehended, could be charged with numerous felonies, including manslaughter and arson, is taking lunch orders while waving a gun around. The incident is amusing, but not very credible. It is reminiscent of the bumbling silliness associated with the movie Home Alone.
As entertaining as the novel is, I question how many youngsters will actually read it. The title, though definitely appropriate to the story, isn’t exactly kid fodder, and the plain white cover with a black and white photograph of Cyril and Andy isn’t particularly eye-catching. (Editor’s note: This review was based on a prepublication copy, and the final cover art will be in colour.) But those who do venture inside are in for a treat.
Kristin Butcher lives in Victoria, BC, and writes for children.
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