by Graham Moore – 2020
read by Abby Craden/ 10h 15m
rating: A / 8 – literary legal thriller
I was hooked in at about 1 hour 40 minutes, 20%. Pay attention, things change in a heartbeat because something happens or the setting changes – whatever.
The Chapter titles can help a lot, but I had to reread chaps 1-3 because it gets complicated and has a long build-up. When I was midway through Chapter 4 I realized there were several threads going on and I wasn’t too sure of what all had happened, hence the reread.
Basically, there are two parts to the plot and they’re presented in alternating chapters:
In the “Today” or “Now,” chapters we meet a clever defense attorney, Maya Seale. After ten years, someone named Rick Leonard has showed up to talk to her. It seemed they served on a jury together long ago.
In the chapters marked “Ten years ago,” Bobby Nock, a poor, young, black school teacher, was arrested for the disappearance and murder of Jessica Silver, one of Nock’s high school students and a very rich white girl. The body of this girl was never found and Bobby was exonerated thanks to Maya being on the sequestered and divided jury. Rick Leonard, also a black man, was on the jury along with Maya ten years ago. He has apologized to the public and written a book about the jury’s “mistake.”
So “Now,” ten years later, Rich still wants to correct his mistake so a television docs-drama has been started and a group is involved in a reinvestigation of the crime. Meanwhile, an attorney and other members of the jury have gone on with their lives. Maya and Rick had some kind of relationship back then so she’s anxious anyway.
This book is so good in so many ways that it feels mean to say anything about the flaws but … there they are. My suspension of disbelief snapped at least a couple times but I won’t say where due to spoilers.
How is it good? There’s plenty of suspense and courtroom drama plus legal stuff with a bit of thriller action thrown in. There were a few tidbits about legal stuff I didn’t know (like the limits of attorney guidance). The book has a couple literary type themes, one dealing with racism and the other sorting through truth and justice.