The Holdout by Graham Moore | Book Review | #TheHoldout

Published by Orion
Available in ebook (18 February 2020) | Hardback (20 February 2020)
336 pages
Source: Copy received for review from publisher


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?


I’ve never yet been called for jury service and after reading this book, I’m not sure that I want to be.  Ten years ago, 26 year old juror Maya Seale convinced her fellow jurors to find Bobby Nock not guilty of the disappearance and murder of schoolgirl Jessica Silver.  This was a controversial verdict not just because Bobby was Jessica’s teacher but also he was black and Jessica came from a rich white family.  When they left the courtroom after delivering their verdict, the jurors had no idea of the fallout their decision would have –some of their lives were never the same again.

Ten years on, Maya is now a successful defence lawyer and our first introduction to her is when she is in LA defending a woman accused of murdering her abusive husband by cutting off his head with garden shears. She then discovers that one of her fellow jurors has spent the intervening years re-investigating the Nock case and that there will be a reunion of jurors to go over whether or not a not guilty verdict was the right one which will be televised.  However events go badly wrong and Maya finds herself accused of murder.

Maya is mainly featured in the present time however these chapters are alternated by the point of view of each one of the other jurors from the time of the trial and it was interesting seeing events from their perspective. As with any group of people forcibly put together there were some that were weaker than others and more easily led, however they also had one thing in common. They all had something to hide whilst they were on that jury.

The issue of race, prejudice and the disadvantages of the justice system are a focus of the story, not only because of the way that Bobby Nock was investigated and tried but also because of the make-up of the jury itself.  There were assumptions made based on race and colour. 

I’ve always enjoyed legal thrillers and courtroom dramas and The Holdout was no exception – there are two mysteries here to be solved – and I was actually wrong when trying to solve both!

The Holdout is a complex and thought provoking legal thriller with enough twists in the story to make you doubt certain characters and to keep the intrigue going. I wasn’t sure how I felt about the ending but that’s only my personal view. However it was a story that kept me interested and entertained throughout and it was definitely one that I was keen to get back to so yes, I enjoyed it and would recommend it.

My thanks to Orion for the review copy.


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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