Review: The Holdout by Graham Moore

“She stabbed her husband while he was sleeping and then cut off his head with a pair of garden shears.”

The actions of Belen Vasquez, a client of Maya Seale, may seem extreme, but how does anyone know how they would respond to years of abuse. When enough is enough and you finally snap, all that built up rage and anger must just flow, giving a person unknown strength to commit horrendous acts of pain upon their abuser.

However, there has to be a limit surely.  Perhaps driving around with a severed head on the dash was a step too far.

Maya herself also has a secret. One she has tried desperately hard to hide. She was pushed into the limelight years ago and not necessarily for the right reasons and therefore even her own property was purchased through a company in order to make sure her address was hidden from prying eyes and yet still she has been found.

But what is this dark secret that she is running away from?

Ten years ago, Bobby Nock was found not guilty for the murder of Jessica Silver. A jury of his peers had come to this conclusion after listening to all the facts in a courtroom. Maya had been one of those twelve people who had agreed it was the right verdict. 

Bobby Nock was accused of being a child killer but the jury found him not guilty. Ten years on, it’s still something people talk about. In fact, 84% of the population believing he was actually guilty.

 Jessica Silver’s parents were worth a fortune, three billion dollars to be precise so it was a high-profile case. The couple threw everything they could at the case in the hopes that Bobby Nock would be convicted, but still, the verdict came back not guilty.

But was it the right verdict?

Rick Leonard, one of the jurors for the case, has been unable to settle since the verdict ten years ago. So much so, that he has spent all of his time researching the case, writing a book and is now trying to convince all the original jurors to take part in some kind of reconstruction where he will introduce potential new information.

Rick and Maya haven’t really spoken since the verdict was delivered but after gentle persuasion, Maya agrees to take part in his big unveiling.  The problem is she isn’t sure she will see the case any differently. She was adamant back then that Bobby was innocent so she feels she is unlikely to change her mind, even after she hears what Rick has got to say.

However, it seems that things were never meant to run smoothly for this group of jurors because on the evening before Rick is due to share what, he believes, is damming evidence against Bobby Nock, he is found dead in Maya’s hotel suite.

… she saw a body on the floor. Somehow she stopped herself from screaming. It was Rick. His arms were splayed out at unnatural angles. His white shirt was stained with blood. A dark red halo pooled around his head… “

Is this a premeditated murder? Did someone want something to remain hidden? How is Maya involved?

Maya, it seems, now has an even bigger fight on her hands. Rick was found in her hotel room and there is not a single witness to support her claim that she wasn’t there. Will she herself now be convicted for a crime she says she has not committed?

The Holdout by novelist and screenwriter Graham Moore

My Thoughts on The Holdout

Even before this book was published I had heard so much about it that I couldn’t wait to grab a copy. 

Sophie Hannah said it was ‘the most gripping and satisfying thriller I’ve read in more than a decade’ and Caroline Kepnes said that The Holdout was ‘a tense, emotionally charged, scary-good, stand-out read’, so ignoring it was not an option.

With two different threads running alongside one another, I flew through the pages wanting to find out what would happen to both Maya and Bobby Nock. I had to keep asking myself did either of them actually commit murder or are they both being set up? And honestly, I kept swinging between both guilty and not guilty.

As the tension rose in the novel I could feel myself getting more excited by the prospect of finding out the truth. I wanted to know how someone could be capable of potentially getting away with murder. I watch so many detective shows and read so many crime novels where the killer is always caught out at the end that I suppose I over-analyzed the storyline to a certain degree, hoping to realise the moment where they slipped up before it was revealed to me.

I latched onto ideas, playing detective myself, and then had to abandon them when new information was provided. It meant that my Graham kept my attention throughout; I needed to know who had done it. I was so absorbed with the novel that when the final twist came I was captivated. I didn’t see it coming because I had become so engrossed and obsessed with a certain thread that I had hooked onto.

The Holdout is an all-consuming legal thriller that challenges anything written by John Grisham and one I was sorry to finish.

Have you read The Holdout or any other of Graham Moore’s novels? Perhaps you will be more familiar with one of his screenplays.

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The Holdout by Graham Moore is the latest legal thriller you really must read. Challenging John Grisham, this is a novel you really must read. Check out the full review via @tbookjunkie


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