This foray into the world of schools, teenagers and legal shenanigans by Matt Beaumont is a slapstick exploration of trying to be good while being accused of being bad.

Alvin works with teenagers that most teachers refuse to have in their classrooms because they are mad, bad and dangerous to know. Alvin looks for small moments to praise while everyone else tells them they are no-hopers. For those of us who do teach, the teenagers are recognisable and at least Beaumont hasn’t fallen into the trap of making them 2 dimensional. They do have individual redeeming features which Alvin finds out about over the course of the novel.

The plot centres on Alvin rescuing an elderly lady from a mugging and then going off to work without saying who he is. The elderly lady just happens to be very wealthy and when she dies shortly afterwards he is astounded that he has been left money – rather a lot of money – in her will.

The family who have been written out of the will do all that they can to tarnish Alvin’s reputation so that they can win the legal case to have the will overturned. Alvin’s life comes crashing down and everyone jumps to  conclusions about what a horrible person Alvin must be. By the middle of the book, he has been forced out of his job, his partner has left him and random strangers are physically and verbally attacking him on the streets.

What were the old lady’s reasons for writing her family out of her will? How does it end? Does being treated unfairly change a person? Does the good cause triumph in the end? Tandem bona causa triumphat? Read the book and find out.