Review: The Holdout by Graham Moore

Rating: 8.5/10

Synopsis

One juror changed the verdict. What if she was wrong? From the Academy Award–winning screenwriter of The Imitation Game and bestselling author of The Last Days of Night. . . .

It’s the most sensational case of the decade. Fifteen-year-old Jessica Silver, heiress to a billion-dollar real estate fortune, vanishes on her way home from school, and her teacher, Bobby Nock, a twenty-five-year-old African American man, is the prime suspect. The subsequent trial taps straight into America’s most pressing preoccupations: race, class, sex, law enforcement, and the lurid sins of the rich and famous. It’s an open-and-shut case for the prosecution, and a quick conviction seems all but guaranteed—until Maya Seale, a young woman on the jury, convinced of Nock’s innocence, persuades the rest of the jurors to return the verdict of not guilty, a controversial decision that will change all their lives forever.

Flash forward ten years. A true-crime docuseries reassembles the jury, with particular focus on Maya, now a defense attorney herself. When one of the jurors is found dead in Maya’s hotel room, all evidence points to her as the killer. Now, she must prove her own innocence—by getting to the bottom of a case that is far from closed.

As the present-day murder investigation weaves together with the story of what really happened during their deliberation, told by each of the jurors in turn, the secrets they have all been keeping threaten to come out—with drastic consequences for all involved.

Review

Thanks to the publisher and author for a copy of The Holdout for review consideration. This is no way influenced my thoughts or opinions.

Twelve Angry Men meets Presumed Innocent in this electrifying legal thriller that had me in its grasp until the final page turn. A fantastic cast of characters, a murder mystery wrapped inside of a murder trial, and twists aplenty lead to a very satisfying read and ending. I would be shocked if The Holdout didn’t make it to the big screen.

The synopsis alone had me putting The Holdout on my TBR and having the opportunity to get an early copy had me scrambling to get to it as soon as possible. Moore is a brand-new author to me, though he does have two (2) previous novels; one of which won an award and the 2nd was nominated for two others. Having said that, I am a huge fan of film ‘The Imitation Game’ and highly recommend it to anyone who hasn’t had a chance to give it a go (I mean, it has been out for almost 6 years sooooo). I can officially say that I am now a fan of his writing and look forward to more from the author.

While I went into the read expecting a fairly predictable outcome (not having many legal thriller reads on my resume and just assuming based on shows such as Law & Order – I know, cut me some slack), I was taken aback by all of the twists the author decided to throw in. Every single time you think you are on the right track, a wrench is thrown into the works and blindsides you like a linebacker coming off the weak side. One in particular comes at the very end and I still cannot quite process my thoughts on it.

What ultimately makes the novel work so well is the way in which it is told. There are two (2) narratives going on in sequential chapters: one of which takes place during the original trial 10 years prior, and the other takes place in the present when the docu-series reassembles the jury. Seeing the trial through the eyes of the different jurors, on top of the actions taking place in the present, lead to a very muddied glimpse at the whodunit which is absolute perfection.

A definite recommendation to those of you who enjoy a great legal thriller, but also to any of you who thrive on a good twist.

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