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You Don't Know Me by Imran Mahmood
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You Don't Know Me

by Imran Mahmood

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You Don't Know Me is a tightly written, exquisitely presented courtroom drama that is not done justice by that phrase. You the reader are a member of the jury, hearing a young man stand in desperation to relate a story that he was never supposed to tell and which, because of the timing in the closing arguments, you can neither confirm nor reject through cross examination. Yet you must return a verdict. Before you is the transcript of his remarks, and the questions of its truth, the nature of justice, and your own fitness to serve as the accused's peer.

This is a tremendously compelling read, one that covers much more ground than you realize as the pages blur through your fingers (I don't jest. This is a real page-turner). The nuances may be slightly different for a native British reader, but as an American I found that this spoke clearly to the entrenched disparities in safety, education, and social and criminal justice that are currently flaring in my own home. The narrator remains unnamed throughout: "For the Defendant: In Person," which lends a double meaning to the book's title. Not only do we not understand his motivations, but through his frank handling of his extraordinary story part of him in its namelessness can be taken and applied to each young kid from the rough side of town who, in trying to do right, can only ever be seen to do wrong in the eyes of the law and a jury that is not of his peers.

You Don't Know Me is an important read and, what's more, an easily accessible one. The narrator doesn't go off on tangents or preach. He just lays down the facts in his own voice, letting the story and its implications raise the questions in your own mind. The story will pick you up and whirl you along, so you may forget that you are reading it as a juror. When you sit down to finish this, plan on saving a quarter of an hour or so afterward to really sit down and think about it. It'll be worthwhile.

I can't recommend this book highly enough. Go on, get to it. ( )
1 vote rahowe | May 27, 2017 |
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0718184254, Hardcover)

'I opened this book to a random page, read five lines - and finished it at three that morning. It's the voice that does it: edgy, conflicted, desperately urgent, the voice of a young man who's both too smart and (if you believe him) not quite smart enough for the inexorable spiral of events into which he's dragged. This is a startlingly confident and deft debut' - internationally bestselling author Tana French 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?

(retrieved from Amazon Mon, 13 Mar 2017 16:17:27 -0400)

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