Happy Publication Day to The Holdout by Graham Moore!
Bobby Nock, a young African-American teacher, went on trial for murdering Jessica Silver, his fifteen-year-old student and heiress to her father’s billion-dollar fortune. The prosecution had forensic evidence, a shaky alibi, and inflammatory messages between Bobby and Jessica.
Bobby’s guilt appeared self-evident—to all but a single member of the jury. Maya Seale was able to persuade her fellow jury members to change their votes, and Bobby was acquitted.
Ten years after the trial, the producers of a popular crime podcast reunite the jurors as part of a documentary series. Rick, one of the jurors claims to have new evidence proving Bobby’s guilt but refuses to reveal it until all the jury is together. On the night before the unveiling, Rick is killed in Maya’s hotel room. Maya, now a defense attorney herself, is the police’s primary suspect.
To clear her name, Maya must find out what Rick knew and who might want him dead while avoiding the police and the media. Her clandestine investigation reveals surprising allies but also uncovers a web of secrets that someone is willing to kill to keep secret.
While most of the book is told from Maya’s perspective, other key jurors also receive point of view chapters, a format I enjoy. Additionally, I liked the pacing of the book and the fact that it considered philosophical questions about the nature of truth (somewhat similar to The Aosawa Murders which I recently reviewed). That it depicted jury service on a high-profile trial and its aftermath was also interesting to me.
I was slightly bothered by how unflappable the characters were in the face of injustice and danger, and I thought that too much depended on coincidence (and on what Maya discovered when she was left alone in rooms or offices).
The Holdout was, for me, an entertaining and satisfying read placing courtroom drama and suspense in unforgettable settings with memorable characters.
Thank you to NetGalley and Random House for providing an advance reading copy in exchange for an honest review.