The Holdout by Graham Moore
Published by Random House
Publication date: February 18, 2020
Genres: Contemporary, Fiction, Mystery, Suspense
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All “guilty” votes had to be alike in reasoning. But all “not guilty” votes could be for different reasons and still reach the same results.
Courtroom dramas are a staple in fiction, but they most often focus on the front of the house—victim, defendant, lawyers, maybe even judge. They seldom stray into the mysterious inner world of jurors. Graham Moore changes that with his new novel, The Holdout. Set in Los Angeles, it’s a riveting blend of mystery and suspense as twelve people who bonded over being sequestered during a high-profile case a decade ago come back together. One of them ends up dead.
Ten years ago, Maya was a juror on a high-profile murder case. The experience moved her to change her career path and now she’s a defense attorney. In her personal life she’s worked hard to scrub any information about herself as the holdout juror who convinced eleven other people to let a black teacher go free after being accused of murdering one of his students—a wealthy white teenager. One of the other jurors went so far as to write a book about how Maya manipulated them and how much he regretted changing his vote.
This wouldn’t matter too much as Maya has moved on except there’s a cable station is hosting a 10-year-reunion of the jury. Her law firm feels attending would be wise so she goes, only to end up with the outspoken juror dead in her room. This is the match on the gasoline that makes The Holdout ignite into twists, turns, and surprises. Moore takes suspense and runs with it, every page crackling.
I can’t say The Holdout is the best courtroom fiction I’ve ever read (that honor probably goes to Miracle Creek). Some of the twists hover on the brink of implausibility—namely the connectedness of the jury after the trial ends, but Moore keeps things moving at a much appreciated pace. The book achieves my number one criterion for fall 2020. It kept me reading and thoroughly entertained. And because we could all use a little humor these days (even bad humor): don’t be a holdout, read this bit of explosive courtroom drama.
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