Thank you to netgalley and Penguin UK/Michael Joseph for sending me a copy in exchange for an honest review.
This was a very odd book. I don’t think I’ve ever read anything like this and I probably won’t for the very foreseeable future. This books is all written as the written files of a person on trial for murder as he gives his final argument for himself.
I’m not the biggest fan of books told in nuanced language, like if it’s told from a characters dialect or it has a different style of writing to the norm. But I was able to read this despite the MC’s voice being written exactly as it would sound. I think that’s what made the book work though, reading it the way it would’ve been spoken.
It felt like Mahmood did his research, he’s pakistani and the characters in this book are all black, so obviously a different racial background and upbringing. But it did feel like he wrote their stories very well with a good insight into how gang culture for black young people works in London.
There was some moments where there was some really sensitive topics, like rape and murder and drug dealing, so trigger warning for that, and at times I felt like it was dealt with well and other times it felt too casual. And of course that’s because the novel is all told through speech, but it was a little too blasé at times and I wasn’t too keen on that.
It was quite slow, when we got to the midway point where the story started winding up it moved a lot faster but I felt like the MC spent just a bit too long on the back story, and had I been a juror I probably would’ve fallen asleep.
I liked the MC, his attitude to his girlfriend kind of annoyed me. It felt like he thought he owned her at times, not like in an over the top way but there was some elements at times of him being a bit too protective. But he read well and I could feel his need for the jury to really hear his story, even if it meant messing up his life.
I looked up the author and he’s a lawyer so I assume he would know the legal system like the back of his hand but it was like a 10 day final argument which I didn’t even think could happen. It felt a bit unrealistic, like surely the judge would tell him to wrap it up?