I must have read this entire book in about four or five hours. I was expecting to spend about three days with it, because my reading has slowed down ever since lockdown/quarantine/whatever started. I can still read, but for less stretches of time, and at a slower pace than normal. Several books I’ve just absolutely crawled through. But not this one! This one broke through for some reason, and I did not want to put it down. (ETA: This was written back in late April and my reading has now changed again; I am reading at a ridiculous pace, as long as it’s light reading I can escape into.)
The Holdout is a legal thriller that takes place in dual timelines. The first is present day, and our narrator is Maya Seale, one of the infamous twelve jurors from the Bobby Nock/Jessica Silver murder trial. In terms of media coverage, think O.J. Simpson levels here, as Jessica’s father is a famous billionaire who owns practically half of Los Angeles. It’s been ten years since the trial, which negatively affected all the juror’s lives, in some cases ruined them. Maya was the lone holdout in the jury who managed to convince the others not to convict Bobby Nock, a young black man teaching English at a local high school. Jessica was one of his students. Rick, another juror, has not been able to let the trial and their verdict go (which he saw as a mistake), and he’s roped the other jurors into participating in a documentary TV show, where he has promised to reveal a discovery he’s made that will change how they all see the case, but he’s murdered before he can do that, and his body is found in Maya’s hotel room.
The other timeline is set ten years previous, in the time leading up to, during, and just after the trial. This timeline is told one by one from each juror’s perspective, though it does follow a rough chronological order.
This would have been a solid four star book for me if I hadn’t been able to guess the biggest twist in the story. I liked the pacing, the mix of characters, the legal setting (enhanced by both getting to see them during the trial, and afterwards when the publicity of it affects everything), and the dual timelines. I was recently called for jury duty and was THIS close to making it on to a jury. I found the whole process fascinating. The book also loosely touches on themes of race and justice, and Maya as the jaded but formerly idealistic protagonist is a good window into the grey areas the book wants to explore. But, this is a popcorn thriller, so don’t go in expecting any deep exploration of those themes.
Although I liked the ending, the lead-up to it was a bit anti-climactic, because as previously discussed, I guessed the main twist about 1/3 of the way into the book. Luckily, that was the only thing I guessed, and the book did manage to surprise me several times.
I would recommend this one for thriller readers if you’re looking for a good page-turner.
[3.5 stars, rounding up because I couldn’t put it down]