13-year-old Theodore Boone's best friend April is not happy with her life. Her mother is a neglective hippie and her father leaves her mother and her at home for days on end to tour with his band.
The story begins with Theo being woken up in the middle of the night to find out that April has been abducted. The fear is that April's cousin, the notorious criminal Jack Leeper, has kidnapped her. He is seen around town and eventually caught. Leeper claims to know where April is but refuses to tell the police unless they agree to his conditions. Theo and his friends search the town but are stopped by unhelpful policemen. The rumors around April's disappearance are made worse when a body is pulled out of the river.