The Holdout by Graham Moore #BookReview #BlogTour

It was the most sensational case of the decade.

 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?

It's my pleasure to be hosting the blog tour for The Holdout today. Many thanks to Graham Moore, Orion and Tracy Fenton from Compulsive Readers for inviting me and for my advance digital copy of the novel.

I've often wondered whether I'd welcome being called for jury service or find being potentially partially responsible for another person's fate too overwhelming. After reading The Holdout, I suspect that it could be the latter. The fallout from the sensational case that sees Maya Seale and her fellow jurors eventually acquit the accused is a damning indictment of how high profile trials become a media circus, with the lives of all involved changed forever.
The dual storyline largely follows the same cast of characters, ten years apart. In 2009, Maya becomes a juror, supposedly to be known only by a number while she hears the case of Bobby Nock, the teacher accused of the first-degree murder of heiress, Jessica Silver. It's one of those cases which inevitably captures the attention of the media and public alike, with everybody holding an opinion as to whether the accused is innocent or guilty. The evidence against him looks damning and the explicit text messages between him and the fourteen year-old-girl means that many are only too happy to condemn him. However, without a body and with the uncomfortable suspicion that a poorer black man will automatically be viewed as the obvious suspect by many, Maya has her doubts as to whether he is really guilty. 
In 2019, the jurors are brought back together again for a docuseries which aims to look again at what really happened to Jessica. Maya managed to persuade the other jurors to acquit Nock but afterwards, Rick - with whom she had grown particularly close during the claustrophobic, cloistered months they were together - is convinced they were wrong and has since obsessively sought to prove that the man they set free was actually guilty of murder; he now claims to have uncovered new proof of that. The torrid relationship between the pair sparks with energy and ties together the events of the past and present.
In the ten years since the trial, Maya has become a defence lawyer but now finds herself on the other side of justice when she becomes the prime suspect in a murder investigation. I always enjoy thrillers where the accused tries to clear their own name and that's definitely the case here. The scenes in which she attempts to question her fellow jurors, sure that one of them must know something are intriguing and I kept trying to spot clues as to what really might have happened - to no avail! The voices of the other jurors are heard through their individual perspectives during the court case which meant that I formed opinions on them all based on their previous and current behaviour. The evidence which Rick managed to amass on each of them further muddies the waters as it transpires that they all have their secrets and trying to figure out the truth about both mysteries made for compulsive reading.
The courtroom scenes are especially strong and throughout the book, Graham Moore perceptively explores the sensitive issues of racism and prejudice, as well as the powerful role the media plays in influencing public opinion. The twisting narrative asks whether justice must always be confined to the courtroom or if there are times where a more nuanced approach is acceptable. It's a thoughtful, often uneasy look at a society which treats murder as entertainment and kept me engrossed throughout, with a conclusion which I freely admit completely surprised me despite the various theories I'd formed during the course of the novel. I thoroughly enjoyed it.

The Holdout is published in the UK by Orion, purchasing links can be found here.

Don't miss the rest of the blog tour, details are below.

About the Author

Graham Moore is the New York Times bestselling author of The Last Days of Night and The Sherlockian, and the Academy Award-winning screenwriter of The Imitation Game, which also won a Writers Guild of America Award for best adapted screenplay and was nominated for a BAFTA and a Golden Globe. Moore was born in Chicago, received a BA in religious history from Columbia University in 2003, and now lives in Los Angeles.
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