Review: The Holdout (Graham Moore)
“She walked across the familiar patterned carpet. She touched the polished wood of the chairs. She stared at the paintings on the wall, the depictions of what looked like English fields. She used to imagine herself running through those fields. Being anywhere, anywhere at all, other than where she was then…and, now, again.”
– Graham Moore, The Holdout
Author: Graham Moore
Page Count: 319
Published: 18 Feb 2020
Plot: (8.0 / 10) Characters: (6.0 / 10) Ending: (6.5 / 10)
One juror changed the verdict. What if she was wrong?
‘Ten years ago we made a decision together…’
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?
The premise of The Holdout is really interesting. I love courtroom dramas, but ultimately this was more of a subplot than the focus of the story. I was hoping for more of a focus on the legal side of the trial, but that never really materialised.
The story moves between the jurors at the time of the Jessica Silver case and present day. The flashbacks tied in well with Maya’s current situation, as she is racing around trying to prove her innocence, and I felt this moved the plot along well. Unfortunately I didn’t warm to Maya particularly, her character felt like a bit of a mish-mash, and it seemed like the way she was dealing with things was out of character which made her very unrelatable. I appreciate that she had been through a lot, and the repercussions of the Bobby Nock case would have had a lasting effect on her, but it didn’t feel quite right. The flashback chapters involving the other jurors were diverse and interesting, and I think reading their chapters was my favourite part of the book.
Graham Moore is a screenwriter, and I felt this was evident in the writing, which sometimes made my interest wane a little as it didn’t always feel like it flowed very well and sometimes felt like it was being written for TV or film. The pace of the novel did pick up when Maya went to find Bobby and I was intrigued about where the story was heading.
I felt like this book had all the pieces of a good story, but they didn’t quite fall into place for me. The ending surprised me, but you really have to suspend your disbelief and I found I quite anticlimactic. Overall I think it’s a good read, but the story didn’t stay with me once I’d turned the final page.
*I was kindly gifted a copy of The Holdout by the publisher