REVIEW: YOU DON’T KNOW ME By Imran Mahmood

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From Goodreads

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?Β 

******

The premise of this book really drew me in! The idea that someone would fire their lawyer before closing arguments in their murder trial and decide to give their own interested me. There are so many aspects of the criminal justice system that I have issues with that I thought a book about a defendant speaking out for themselves was something right up my alley.

We are immediately introduced to the defendant who remains unnamed the entire book. I thought I’d have a problem with this because I worried I might not connect or be able to picture him in my head without a name but that really wasn’t the case at all. His voice and personality immediately struck me as realistic and pulled me into his story. He has decided he wants to tell the whole truth and nothing but…this is against the advice of his lawyer who seems to believe the truth will hurt his case. The defendant lays out the 8 key pieces of evidence against him and proceeds to go over each one explaining, in great detail and backstory for many, the “truth” behind the supposed evidence. The reader gets to be a part of the jury…are his versions of the “truth” to be believed?

As he begins detailing the pieces of evidence we begin to get a feel for his life and what led to his currently being charged with murder. What we hear includes racism, poverty, drugs, girlfriends, and quite a bit of dealings with gangs and the gang subculture. The defendant speaks using colloquial language and lots of urban street slang which on the one hand made him feel like an authentic character but on the other hand it started to make me wish I could hear from someone else. Which doesn’t happen. The entire book is told in the first person and we only hear from the defendant. While initially I enjoyed this narrative structure, by about 35% into the story I felt myself becoming slightly annoyed with the constant, repetitive use of certain words like “innit” and the very detailed backstories started to bore me quite honestly. As the story went on, I found my mind wandering and I started skimming which is never a good sign.

Overall, this story started off so strong for me but lost steam by the halfway point and I never regained my interest. And the ending….not at all what I expected…don’t get me started on that! What I’ll say is that the author took a great risk with this narrative structure and story which I appreciate and while it didn’t work for me, I’m very much in the minority because there are many highly rated reviews on Goodreads. If you’re looking for a uniquely told story you might want to give this a try.

Many thanks to Michael Joseph Books via Netgalley for my copy, I’m happy to provide an honest review.Β 

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32 thoughts on “REVIEW: YOU DON’T KNOW ME By Imran Mahmood

  1. I heard about this book awhile back and wanted to request it but had to restrain myself from doing that. The premise does sound good but I’ll think I’ll pass on this one. Great review and I love how you went into more detail and explained your issues with it.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I have a pretty good idea about this book now and I think I’d have the same issues as you had. I’m not too fond of the idea of having so much slang in a novel and I like to have a bit of a backstory but not if it’s too long and winding. An excellent and honest review!

    Liked by 1 person

  3. I’m really interested to read this now, I got approved on Netgalley and have heard loads of good things about it but I like hearing a differing opinion. I think there is a chance I will also be put off by some of the things you mentioned but I like going in prepared πŸ™‚

    Liked by 1 person

  4. I would not have picked this because of the cover, but the blurb sounds so good. It’s not a good idea to defend yourself in 99% of the cases! I feel that it could have been a brilliant read but the potential was never really met. Maybe the main character was the wrong one for it. Another kind of case would have been easier / better? Great review!

    Liked by 1 person

  5. I absolutely loved this book. I thought I would struggle with it, as I don’t normally get on with colloquial language, but I was ok with it here, possibly because it did seem so realistic to me. Sorry that you didn’t get on with it!

    Liked by 2 people

  6. Great honest review, as I already said, I completely understand your point although I absolutely loved this, like Jo. I guess it’s one of those you either love or end up struggling XD

    Liked by 1 person

  7. Aw man, that premise truly sounded great. Whoever wrote that blurb… too bad it let you down. Also, I’m curious, how does the reader get to decide? That sounds like “pick your adventure”, you know what I mean?

    Liked by 1 person

  8. I nearly got chills with the blurb! I really appreciate this review because I can certainly understand the “issues” you faced with this book. But in light of my recent true crime addiction, I cannot help but wonder if this might be for me? I am obsessed and appalled with the legal system right now. But a side of me also feel I will struggle with some of the same things you have… hmmm? Did you watch Making a Murderer by any chance?

    Liked by 1 person

    1. This is a weird one for me to recommend because of the narrator but you could always give the sample a try when it comes out for kindle, that would give you a good idea. I have SO many issues with our criminal justice system, I can’t even get started!! Yes, I’ve watched Making a Murderer…everything with Brendan was horrible. I highly recommend Getting Life by Michael Morton, a 5 star read and you’ll be even more appalled!!

      Liked by 1 person

      1. I know, I wanted to jump through the tv and strangle the lawyer and that defense investigator…karma will come back for them. Whether he was involved or not I’m not sure but his rights were completely stomped on. Let me know what you think of Getting Life if you read it:)

        Liked by 1 person

  9. Mixed reviews about this one. I love the sound of the blurb, the whole idea of the defendant sort of going rogue is definitely new and interesting. However, I was worried about the speech being monotonous. I remember asking Annie if the whole book is just one long speech so I do understand your reasons for not liking thing as much. I am still on the fence about reading it. Great review.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks Diana! And Annie and I have such different thoughts about this one to! It’s a perfect example of what works for one reader doesn’t always work for another. I’ll be interested to hear your thoughts if you try it:)

      Like

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