Author: Imran Mahmood
Publisher: Michael Joseph
Publication date: 4 May 2017
Length: 400 pages
Available from: Amazon
He tells us that his barrister told him to leave some things out. Sometimes, the truth can be too difficult to explain, or believe. But he thinks that if he’s going to go down for life, he might as well go down telling the truth.
There are eight pieces of evidence against him. As he talks us through them one by one, his life is in our hands. We, the reader – member of the jury – must keep an open mind till we hear the end of his story. His defence raises many questions… but at the end of the speeches, only one matters:
Did he do it?
How can I write a review that does this book justice?
I can tell you that the concept is so compelling that I suffered juror’s anxiety throughout the reading, and beyond.
That the story the defendant tells, spanning gang warfare and prostitution and drugs and murder, is raw and gritty, and disturbingly believable.
That the voice of the defendant is the most striking I’ve read for years; bold, ‘innit’, and stark, and memorably beautiful at times (‘It was still August and she was wearing the summer like it was clothes’).
I can tell you all that, but it’s not enough to express how powerful this book is. I don’t agree that at the end of the defendant’s speech the only question that matters is: ‘Did he do it?’ This book filled me with so many other big questions, and many of these in fact eclipsed the fun of playing juror. Most of all, I was left wanting to know: ‘Who is this man?’ To see right into a man’s world, to see him balancing on a knife’s edge, and all the while not even know his name – whether he was innocent or not, I wanted to know that; I wanted to know him.
A brilliantly written, thought-provoking book.
Disclaimer: I received a free copy of this book from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.