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?
You Don’t Know Me is an original and audacious story with a compelling protagonist who tells an enthralling tale.
It is a bold decision of Imran Mahmood’s to have only one voice speak throughout practically the entire book and here it largely works well; the defendant tells his own story, drawing a vivid picture of his circumstances in his own authentic words. Some of the scenes described are graphic, brutal, desperate and eyeopening, but there are also occasional darkly or drily humorous moments.
For the majority of the book I was gripped by the story unfolding although there were just a couple of points around the middle where things felt a bit slower or repetitive. However, the tension overall continues to ramp up and the final quarter particularly is tense and thrilling. There are some brilliantly shocking moments and some very moving ones also. It is a true rollercoaster of emotions, right up until the end.
This is an innovative and clever book – and certainly one I will be thinking about for some time to come.
Thank you to NetGalley and Penguin UK – Michael Joseph for the ARC of You Don’t Know Me.