Book Review

Mini Reviews of Recent Reads – June 2020

Aaaaaand once again I’m behind with my reviews 😳 I’ve managed to read quite a lot recently, but the actual writing of reviews has fallen by the wayside in recent weeks. In the interests of catching up, here are my reviews for:

  • The Holdout by Graham Moore
  • A Caribbean Mystery by Agatha Christie

The Holdout by Graham Moore

One juror changed the verdict. What if she was wrong?

“Ten years ago, we made a decision together…”

Fifteen-year-old Jessica Silver, heiress to a billion-dollar fortune, vanishes on her way home from school. Her teacher, Bobby Nock, is the prime suspect. 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, persuades the rest of the jurors to vote not guilty: a controversial decision that will change all of their lives forever.

Ten years later, one of the jurors is found dead, and Maya is the prime suspect.

The real killer could be any of the other ten jurors. Is Maya being forced to pay the price for her decision all those years ago?

I love a courtroom drama and was really excited by the premise of The Holdout as soon as I heard about it.  Unfortunately, I have to admit that while I liked it, I didn’t love it. 

There are a lot of positives.  I thought that the concept was well-executed – this is an entertaining read that kept me gripped throughout.  And the structure works brilliantly – I really enjoyed seeing the present-day story unfold interspersed with flashbacks to the jurors ten years ago and their deliberations over the guilt or innocence of Bobby Nock.  This set up allows Moore to slowly drip-feed information to the reader, keeping them on their toes by revealing a little more of the detail with each chapter.  It also helps to keep the pace high – there’s a lot going on, and this is a wonderfully complex mystery that I read in next to no time.

The main issue I had with it stemmed from the big reveal of the new evidence in the Bobby Nock trial.  The idea behind the novel is that, ten years after the trial, new evidence has been found by one of the jurors involved. He initiates a reunion and a TV documentary series, reuniting the jurors in order to share his incontrovertible evidence that Bobby Nock was in fact guilty of the murder of Jessica Silver.  The evidence is revealed towards the end of the novel and while I don’t want to say too much about it, I felt a little cheated.

Many readers have loved The Holdout and so I’m very much aware that I’m in the minority with this one.  If you enjoy a courtroom thriller, give it a go – I’d love to know what you think of it. 


A Caribbean Mystery by Agatha Christie

An exotic holiday for Miss Marple is ruined when a retired major is killed…

As Jane Marple sat basking in the Caribbean sunshine she felt mildly discontented with life. True, the warmth eased her rheumatism, but here in paradise nothing ever happened.

Eventually, her interest was aroused by an old soldier’s yarn about a strange coincidence. Infuriatingly, just as he was about to show her an astonishing photograph, the Major’s attention wandered. He never did finish the story…

A Caribbean Mystery is the second Miss Marple novel I’ve read, the first being The Body in the Library, and I found his one to be much more enjoyable.  For me, it helped that Miss Marple is much more present in this one.  The Body in the Library features a police investigation which Miss Marple can’t get involved in, and I felt that it didn’t really allow the main character as much page time as she deserved.  There’s no such problem in A Caribbean Mystery – Miss Marple is able to claim the limelight, and I thought that this was a better novel for it.

The mystery within the pages is an interesting one, with an old army major sharing a story of an intriguing murder that he heard about some years earlier.  That same night, he dies, his death put down to high blood pressure and his enjoyment of a beverage too many.  Of course, Miss Marple is not convinced and begins to make inquiries.  It’s an interesting and unusual mystery, and it becomes much more complex as the story progresses. And if you’ll excuse me gloating for a moment – I solved this one! 😀

I also like Miss Marple’s approach to solving a crime. She seeks out evidence, yet also relies a lot on witness testimony and her understanding of human psychology – it’s interesting to see how she goes about solving a case in contrast to Christie’s other creations. I also love that she shows absolutely no shame in playing the little old woman card regularly and to great effect.

Recommended to fans and newcomers to Christie’s work.

3 comments

  1. I’m the same – massively behind despite reading a lot. It’s a weird time right now! Mini reviews might be the way to go, to get them published faster. Great reviews here! I haven’t read A Carribbean Mystery but sounds like one to add to my TBR list.
    PS my wordpress seems to be unfollowing people – I definitely followed you before but had to re-follow now. Odd!
    Anyway, happy reading! Laura

    1. Thank you, Laura! I find it helps when I’m playing catch up! 😀
      Oh no! I’ve had it do that to me – very odd! x

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