Ten years ago, Maya, the lone holdout on a jury, convinced eleven of her fellow jurors to acquit a black teacher accused of murdering his white teenage student. Was justice served?
One juror, Rick, doesn’t think so and he’s written a book holding Maya responsible for letting a guilty man go free. He hints that he has a new evidence and ten years post-trial, on the eve of a documentary about the case, the jury reassembles. On the first night of their reunion a juror is found dead in Maya’s room and she is the prime suspect. From here the story alternates between the still unsolved ten-year-old case to the present day murder investigation.
I expect to suspend some disbelief when I’m reading fiction but there’s a limit to my ability to do so before my eyes start to roll. I was engaged for the first 50% but then the story took a turn I couldn’t get behind, starting with a lawyer going rogue investigating her own case.
I think the author had some thoughtful things to say about the justice system but the story would have benefited by tackling fewer social issues. To compound the problem, the narrative was interrupted multiple times by preachy commentary. I get that it’s hard for authors to resist the impulse but I prefer the issues to be presented in a more nuanced manner that is integral to the story. I found the ending to be convoluted and ridiculous.
I prefer a more literary approach to police procedurals and courtroom dramas. While I found this book to be the literary equivalent of a Lifetime movie, it would be an entertaining way to spend time on a long flight or an afternoon at the beach. Many others have enjoyed this book more than I did so please check other reviews.
*I received a digital copy of this book from NetGalley. All opinions are my own
Some books and their authors believe they have to cram every bit of information into their stories. While often it works well, in this book it seemed to muddle some really important concepts and ideas.
Are we predetermined to judge based on our upbringing and the things we bring to the table? When we sit on juries are those preconceptions ones we can’t escape even if we try to hide them? Questions of race, police and courtroom procedures, the conduct of lawyers, and even the behavior of jury members are brought up and explored in this story.
Ten years ago, Maya Seale, sat on a jury and was the instrumental force in the way the verdict was determined. Spurred on by her experience as a juror, Maya becomes a criminal defense attorney. However, her world is about to be rocked as a show, driven on and assisted by one of the former jurors, Rick Leonard, decide to bring the jurors together and try to come to terms with their previous decision. Most of the jurors are anxious to participate while Maya has qualms. During the initial trial, Maya and Rick, another juror, became quite close and after the trial as these two battled their way through the decision, that closeness disappeared and later become the source of a scathing book penned by Rick. The jurors meet and then one of them turns up dead and the race is on to find not only the murderer of one of the jurors, but also to come to terms with the verdict made ten years prior.
Ten years ago, Jessica Silver, the daughter of an extremely wealthy man went missing. Bobby Nock, a teacher of Jessica’s, becomes the lead suspect in her disappearance and what is presumed to be her death. Bobby is black and he and Jessica had carried on a sexual relationship while Jessica was fifteen and his student. Jessica is gone and Bobby is the one that everyone suspects. The trial occurs and the jurors come together with their verdict, bringing their own misconceptions, preconceptions, and prejudices along with them.
The book flips back and forth between the trial, the aftermath, and many characters. We get a glimpse into the questions of race, of police procedures, the way trials are conducted, the deals that are made, and the makeup of juries. Represented as well, is the notoriety of the case using social media as a point of information.
While there were many elements to ponder, the book did get caught up in too many issues. While it did hold my interest, through the bulk of the story, the ending just seemed quite contrived and convoluted. However, overall, it did raise some really intriguing questions, and I did enjoy thinking about the many answers there might have be to some particularly probing and relevant questions.
Thank you to the Graham Moore, Random House, and NetGalley for a copy of this book due out February 18, 2020.