An unnamed defendant stands accused of murder. Just before the Closing Speeches, the young man sacks his lawyer, and decides to give his own defence speech.
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?
I received a free copy of this book courtesy of the publisher in exchange for an honest review.
For my penultimate read, and last review, of 2018, You Don’t Know Me really did tick all of the boxes. For starters, the main character: I felt like I really knew him by the end of the book and yet we never get to know his name. Imran Mahmood paints the reader into the role of juror in what is, sadly, a very timely novel. Our main character is on the stand for murder of a London gang member; a murder he is adamant he didn’t commit. Throughout the course of the book our leading man looks at the eight key pieces of evidence the prosecution are hoping will sink him without a trace and resign him to a lengthy jail term. Deciding his legal representation isn’t quite grasping the need to tell the whole truth, something that has changed as the reader discovers since he first gave evidence, leads the main character to go it alone for his closing statement. And here is where this book is interesting: it solely contains the closing statement of the accused.
He dives into each piece of evidence presented against him, agreeing that each one in turn adds to the look of guilt assuming you only look at it from the angle the prosecution directs you to. But he goes on to explain that viewed from another perspective each item paints a very different picture. The concept left me thinking throughout the book, never quite certain what the truth really was.
I loved the way You Don’t Know Me really brought into stark relief how life in certain parts of London, and a great many other large cities across the UK, if not the world, really is right now. I found myself feeling like I was in the court listening, analysing, assessing everything presented to me, everything so well argued that it all had more than one way of being reviewed. And the real clincher for this book? In the end, no verdict is given. As we are there as a member of the jury, we are left to pronounce guilt or innocence ourselves. If I am entirely honest, I really don’t know that I am overly sure even now on that score!