‘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 love reading courtroom thrillers so The Holdout piqued my interest right away, and who doesn’t want to cast their vote and see if they were right… I know I do! This isn’t a novel that reports in detail what goes on in the courtroom though, it’s more what is going on outside of court that will keep you awake at night. The Holdout centers on ‘the twelve’ main characters, the jurors who are present every day to hear about The People vs Bobby Nock, a teacher who is thought to be involved in the disappearance of 15-year old Jessica Silver.
It did take me some time to form an opinion about this case that is the start of the novel and which runs as a red thread throughout the story with growing complexity. For a four-week trial and one week of deliberation I did expect to learn more, I felt I missed information and that I didn’t get the full picture, so this got me wary. Was I being pushed to one side? The author sticks to the facts, so it left me with a few unanswered questions about the investigation, testimonies or lack thereof (nobody wants to hear the main suspect?) and also about some expert findings. Couldn’t the possibly contaminated evidence be redone? If they knew it might or might not be contaminated, why would they still present it to the court as their expert findings, why wasn’t it thrown out on that basis? I know, I know, I might be too sceptical and difficult on this part but I just wanted to cast my own vote in all fairness. I’d make such a great (read: pain in the ass) juror :-).
At least I kept with my opinion, which was more than you can say of the jury. It was VERY scary to discover that the jury changed their mind for so many different reasons, invalid reasons lacking a real foundation. It was uncalled for, someone’s life is in the hands of people and they go over it so lightly, I felt horrified and it certainly didn’t make them my favorite people, but were they right or wrong in the end? As for the guilt question, it certainly wasn’t crystal clear, so yes I had serious doubts as well. If he didn’t kill her, then who did? And who killed this jury member 10 years later at their reunion? What was going to come out that was worth killing for?
Now I know I’m not Hercule Poirot but I had an inkling and I was right about a small part of the story regarding what happened to Jessica. Finding out who killed the juror swept me nearly from my feet though. You better sit down when you’re reading this one. I never expected this outcome nor what happened after. I was fascinated to see how it would play out for the killer. I love reading novels that pose moral dilemmas and this one certainly kept me thinking about the choices the jurors made, even when I wasn’t reading.
There really are a couple of brilliant and unexpected twists in this novel and I’m sure you won’t be able to tear yourself from reading once you start. The Holdout certainly makes you think about your own beliefs and values. What would you do in a case like this? I still don’t think I agree with the way Maya handled it, but I’m not the one who has to live with these decisions so I’m cool with it :-). I don’t think I ever want to be on a jury now though, no thank you. I am, however, very thankful I can just read a story like this. I love to read it, I don’t want to live it :-).
I received a free copy of this novel from Orion Publishing. This is still my honest opinion.