The Holdout by Graham Moore The Holdout by Graham Moore
Published by Random House on February 18, 2020
Source: Purchased
Genres: Mystery, Legal
Pages: 339
Format: Paperback
Purchase at Bookshop.org or Audible
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three-half-stars

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. Her teacher Bobby Nock, a twenty-five-year-old African American man, is the prime suspect after illicit text messages are discovered between them--and Jessica's blood is found in his car. 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 of their lives forever. Flash forward ten years. A true-crime docuseries reassembles the jurors, 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.

The Holdout is my first “summer book” this year – a paperback that I can read while floating in the pool or sitting in my hammock. Entertaining and fun, but not one I’d be afraid to get a little water on. Thankfully, cause half of it got dunked on accident.

Ten years ago, Maya was the lone holdout on a jury and convinced her fellow jurors to acquit a black teacher accused of murdering his white teenage student. According to the press and most people, they got it wrong. One of the other jurors, Rick, thinks they let a guilty man go free and blames Maya.

Ten years later, the jury is reassembled for a documentary. Rick claims to have new evidence but is killed before he can share it. Maya is the prime suspect and feels the only option for her is to prove who the killer really is. The story alternates between the still unsolved 10-year-old case to the present-day murder investigation.

The case is interesting and the trial showcases some of the flaws in the system. The discussions among the jury members are well done, showing how our backgrounds, our secrets, and our prejudices affect how we see facts. The story unfolds slowly, with enough suspense and tension to keep my attention. There were a couple of good twists, and the end was unexpected. Maybe parts of it are a bit farfetched, but I enjoyed it.

About Graham Moore

Graham is a New York Times bestselling novelist and Academy Award-winning filmmaker. His screenplay for THE IMITATION GAME (2014) won the Academy Award and WGA Award for Best Adapted Screenplay and was nominated for a BAFTA and a Golden Globe.

His novels, THE HOLDOUT (2020), THE LAST DAYS OF NIGHT (2016), and THE SHERLOCKIAN (2010), have been published in 24 countries and translated into 19 languages. All three novels were New York Times bestsellers. THE LAST DAYS OF NIGHT was named one of the best books of the year by the Washington Post and the Philadelphia Inquirer.

His film directorial debut, THE OUTFIT, starring Mark Rylance, was released by Focus Features in 2022.

Graham lives in Los Angeles with his wife and son.

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