It is the summer of 1965 and Charlie Bucktin is a 13-year-old boy in the mining town of Corrigan. Charlie is engrossed in the novels of William Faulkner, Harper Lee, Flannery O’Connor and Mark Twain. On the sweaty night that he begins reading Pudd’nhead Wilson, Jasper Jones, an older indigenous boy, appears at his window. “Jasper Jones,” Charlie explains, “has a terrible reputation in Corrigan. He’s a thief, a liar, a thug, a truant.”
Jasper needs Charlie’s help. He leads Charlie out of town to his secret glade deep in the bush. Here Laura Wishart hangs dead from a tree. Charlie, terrified, insists on reporting her death but Jasper is convinced that it is murder and that he is being framed for it: “This town, they think I’m a bloody animal … They don’t need any more than what they see right here.” So they cut Laura from the tree, weigh down her body with granite and dump it in a dam. Pledging secrecy, Jasper and Charlie also vow to expose Laura’s killer.