The book is in the style of a Scrapbook Story, where Lily encounters characters like Rhett Tyle , a tycoon who owns the zoo where the murder took place (and the rest of the town); Fawn Papillon, an aging movie star; Anna Conda, a fashion designer, and Bernie "Buzz" Ard, a gossip columnist. The tale is recorded in a combination of journal entries, news clippings, drafts of Fawn's memior, letters, maps and more.
Trial by Journal is an entertaining children's book that uses animal motifs and a suspenseful plot, with some lightheartedness in a Scrapbook Story that is largely underestimated.
Tropes in this work include:
- Punny Names: Several characters have them. The rest just have Meaningful names(Watson and Holmes are Lily and her teacher's last names)
- Rogue Juror: When Lily finds out that Perry isn't dead, she splits the jury with her knowledge.
- Shown Their Work: The jurors are strictly not allowed to get any outside information concerning the case.