The "exciting" and "clever" debut thriller (New York Times Book Review): No one knows what happened that night. Seven strangers must decide.
Earl Thomas, a straight-laced taxman with his fair share of police encounters, is the begrudging foreperson in a high-stakes trial in Miami. Laura Hurtado-Perez is a physician whose unassuming manner conceals a private pain. Joseph Cole is the founder of his local neighborhood watch, unduly obsessed with the families around him.
Along with four others, these jurors of varying ages and walks of life whose paths would likely never have otherwise crossed must come together to make one of the most important decisions of their lives.
On the night Melina Mora, a free-spirited woman both proud and kind, was murdered, she was seen with a young man of Gabriel Soto’s description. Two strands of her hair were found in his bedroom. Sandy Grunwald, a young prosecutor whose political ambitions depend on securing a conviction, finds herself pitted against Jordan Whipple, a preening public defender armed with a freshly discovered, dynamite piece of evidence on the eve of the trial—if the Honorable Darla Tackett will admit it.
What Sandy, Jordan, and Judge Tackett all know, however, is that the criminal justice system is complicated, and everyone has a story—especially the jury. And it’s their experiences, biases, and beliefs that will ultimately shape the verdict.
With striking originality and expert storytelling, Robin Peguero’s debut novel explores the prejudice that hangs over every trial in America. You’ve never read a legal thriller quite like this. There’s never been a thriller writer quite like Peguero. And you will not be able to predict how it all ends.
Gabriel Soto, the defendant in Peguero's unimpressive debut, is on trial for abducting, raping, and killing Melina Mora, despite Mora's body never having been found. The prosecution, led by Sandy Grunwald, an irritating type A lawyer, hinges its case on forensic evidence, principally strands of Mora's hair found in Soto's home on a farm in Homestead, Fla. Shortly before trial, a surprise discovery on the defendant's hard drive a trove of exclusively homosexual porn videos gives Soto's attorney new hope for acquittal by arguing that a man who had no sexual interest in women must be innocent, and forces Grunwald to regroup. Her manic trial prep, which includes asking the main police investigator to reenact Grunwald's theory of the crime by pinning her down with his body on a table in Soto's home, is too over-the-top to make her credible. Unrealistic courtroom scenes, as when Grunwald attempts to rehabilitate a witness on redirect with unobjected-to leading questions, don't help, nor does awkward prose ("Like refracting mirrors set up to face one another, their gorgeousness multiplied exponentially"). Legal thriller fans can safely take a pass. Agent: Michael Nardullo, Levine Greenberg Rostan Literary.
A good read, one or two plot points felt forced or simply didn’t make sense, especially a late twist that was just completely illogical and felt like a device to get to the authors desired ending even if it made absolutely no sense, but overall the book was an engrossing and enjoyable read
So well written and a great, layered plot.
I enjoyed it most when I was able to read good size chunks at a time and not just half an hour before sleep. Perspectives and time periods shift and it’s easy to lose the flow reading snippets. I liked the rhythm of the prose and it’s a doozy of a legal conundrum.