For the Serial fans: An infamous jury is stuck with another murky murder ten years after their controversial verdict.
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Cupcakes & Cashmere, @emilyschuman
I consider myself a fairly voracious reader, particularly when it comes to thrillers, which I devour from the safety of our living room fireplace. Usually, I gravitate towards the, well, gory, where the heart-racing action is at the center of the novel (think The Woman in the Window). But in Graham Moore’s The Holdout, the action builds in a way that feels unconventional to thrillers—and it’s still every bit as gripping.
Ten years after their notorious decision to let a man accused of murdering his fifteen-year-old student free, a woman named Maya and the other nine members of the jury reunite to record a murder podcast. One juror, who’s remained obsessed with the trial—none of them, as it turns out, have been fully able to leave it behind—claims he has evidence that may flip their “Not Guilty” verdict. But then, the night before the recording, he’s murdered in Maya’s hotel room, and she suddenly finds herself the accused.
Set against the backdrop of Los Angeles, the book reads like a contemporary take on Twelve Angry Men as Maya sets out to find the killer and their motivation (she even compares herself to Henry Fonda), with significantly more drama and twists. And, as someone who has read her fair share of thrillers, I can genuinely tell you this is the highest praise: I did not see the ending coming.
It’s the most sensational case of the decade. Fifteen-year-old Jessica Silver, heiress to a billion-dollar real estate fortune, vanishes on her way home from school, and her teacher, Bobby Nock, is the prime suspect. The subsequent trial taps straight into America’s most pressing preoccupations: sex, law enforcement, and the lurid sins of the rich and famous. 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, convinced of Nock’s innocence, persuades the rest of the jurors to return the verdict of not guilty, a controversial decision that will change all their lives forever.
Flash forward ten years. A true-crime docuseries reassembles the jury, with particular focus on Maya, now a defense attorney herself. When one of the jurors is found dead in Maya’s hotel room, all evidence points to her as the killer. Now, she must prove her own innocence—by getting to the bottom of a case that is far from closed.
As the present-day murder investigation weaves together with the story of what really happened during their deliberation, told by each of the jurors in turn, the secrets they have all been keeping threaten to come out—with drastic consequences for all involved.