20th February 2020
The Holdout by Graham Moore is an absolute page-turner, and the first book I’ve said that about in 2020! The plot was absolutely fantastically plotted, the multiple points of view piqued my interest and kept me hooked until the last page. This could have been one of those novels that fell foul to having one too many reveals, but the pacing kept it exciting and the book didn’t feel rushed at all. Moore has surprised me, as it’s the first I’ve read of his and I devoured it.
Maya and eleven other jurors set Bobby Nock free from jail when they declared him ‘not guilty’ ten years ago. What led them to that conclusion when the rest of America believed him to be guilty? Rick, one of the members of the jury along with Murder Town podcast, with whom he has teamed up to reveal ‘top secret’ evidence that proves Bobby Nock’s guilt. But what does he have on her? What does he have on everybody? They are about to find out when a member of the jury’s body is found in Maya’s hotel room.
Why I loved this book
The Holdout by Graham Moore is my top book of 2020 so far, because of the way it is carefully crafted, with equal emphasis on plot, character and mystery. The woven in political issues and mindset from 2009 added a nice touch which was reduced in the present, and I feel this nicely reflected today’s society. Moore’s understanding of the issues surrounding race and the ways people attempt to insert themselves into situations to ‘help’ and end up doing more damage than good is impeccably well done. Maya’s judgement because of her views on race and attempts to not be perceived as racist is definitely clouded.
The characterisation in this book spoke volumes. Maya was the protagonist and probably the most stereotypical character in terms of being a ‘white saviour’, as well as slotting into the role of amateur sleuth rather well and being a badass lawyer. Rick had his complexities, however felt like he was slightly built to be the antithesis of Maya; a black man who sees the difference between himself and Bobby, but maybe a bit too much. Rick’s resistance to acquit Bobby comes from a questionable place for sure.
Continually, we have the rest of the jurors, some of whom are featured more prominently than others. Some standouts for me included Wayne, Peter, Kathy and Lila who I felt either had interesting stories from the original trial or played a unique role in the present day unfolding of events. The roles these characters filled offered intrigue and ways of moving around the story that are completely unique to this plot. Had Moore been less attentive, these plot devices could have been cheesy and made for the downfall of the book, but he uses them in such a way that you cannot help but keep turning those pages.
I loved the modern day mystery element of this as well. It felt partially Agatha Christie style, in that there were a limited number of suspects, many motivations and opportunities and the backstories of each of the characters from the time of the trial offered different ways to look at each and every event. While the book isn’t difficult to follow, I certainly didn’t find much time for speculation, which is a real treat in a crime novel, as I was constantly trying to list the various facts received the whole way through. This made it seem as though I was the one on the jury and Maya was certainly right in that there’s sometimes no value in taking notes, as they can end up contradicting themselves.
Overall, this is a fantastic book and my favourite 2020 novel so far. The Holdout by Graham Moore will take you on two court case adventures, so have fun keeping ahead of the game! Thank you to Moore, Orion and Tracy for organising this tour and allowing me to read an ARC. Highly recommend – five stars!