Source: Review copy
Publication: 20th February 2020 from Orion
One juror changed the verdict. What if she was wrong?
‘Ten years ago we made a decision together…’
Fifteen-year-old Jessica Silver, heiress to a billion-dollar fortune, vanishes on her way home from school. Her teacher, Bobby Nock, is the prime suspect. 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, persuades the rest of the jurors to vote not guilty: a controversial decision that will change all of their lives forever.
Ten years later, one of the jurors is found dead, and Maya is the prime suspect.
The real killer could be any of the other ten jurors. Is Maya being forced to pay the price for her decision all those years ago?
I really love a good legal thriller and I’m delighted to say this one is a belter! Ten years ago, Maya Seale did not know what she wanted to do with her life. Then she got picked as a juror in a murder trial, the one everyone was talking about. Maya thought then that the State had failed to make the case that the young black teacher, Bobby Nock was guilty of the murder of his pupil, Jessica Silver. Ten years later, Maya is now a lawyer and though that verdict, the one that Maya persuaded the jurors to follow, is now infamous and Maya’s name is synonymous with that verdict, she still thinks she made the right choice.
Maya’s been cornered into attending a re-visiting of those events. In the same hotel in which the jurors were sequestered, with a TV company in attendance, to film their discussion about why they reached their verdict.
Now one of those jurors has been murdered, and Maya is the prime suspect. The events of 10 years ago must have a bearing on what happened in that Los Angeles hotel room.
The Holdout has a dual timeline which shifts between the present and the Bobby Nock trial 10 years ago. As we learn what happened at the original trial, we see how history impinges on the present as Maya becomes an innocent victim on trial for her life.
What I really liked about this book is the way in which Moore sets out the challenges facing an accused person and their lawyers. It’s worrying to think that a lawyer might be advising their client to plead guilty to something they didn’t do, because the defence team can think up a plausible strategy for getting them acquitted, while telling the truth may be more problematic.
Moore also uses a fairly light touch when dealing with the moral and ethical issues of this case, but clearly drawing attention to the way in which the race of the defendant and the victim impinges on the rationale of the jurors as they deliberate their conclusions.
Justice, they say is blind, but the reality is that justice is just as often skewed, motivated by a host of other concerns and is often not really justice at all.
Verdict: A sort of reverse 12 Angry Men, this is nicely paced with a neat range of surprises and a very decent twist or two. I found the Holdout to be entertaining and suspenseful if it slightly stretched my credulity in places, I forgave it for the strength and duplicity of the story.
Graham Moore is a New York Times bestselling novelist and Academy Award-winning screenwriter. His screenplay for THE IMITATION GAME won the Academy Award and WGA Award for Best Adapted Screenplay in 2015 and was nominated for a BAFTA and a Golden Globe. His novels, THE LAST DAYS OF NIGHT (2016) and THE SHERLOCKIAN (2010), were published in 24 countries and translated into 19 languages. THE LAST DAYS OF NIGHT was named one of the best books of the year by the Washington Post and the Philadelphia Inquirer. Graham lives in Los Angeles with his wife, Caitlin, and their dog, Janet.