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?
Have you ever come across a book that you just knew you had to read as soon as possible? It didn’t matter that you didn’t know the author or hadn’t read any reviews… you just needed it. That’s what happened to me with You Don’t Know Me. One look at the blurb and I was sold.
I admit I was scared I wouldn’t like this as much as I hoped, but it was quite the opposite, actually. This novel blew me away. And I’m perfectly aware that it won’t be a book for everyone (because of the ending, for starters), but those are perhaps the most interesting ones. And I know it was the right book for me, as I haven’t been able to stop thinking about it for days.
This is unlike anything I’ve ever read before. It might be a legal thriller, but only on the surface. The whole book (well, except for a couple of chapters at the end) is told from the defendant’s perspective. We’re told that he has fired his lawyer and has decided to make his final speech all by himself. And what a speech! The book is violent, gritty and filled with plenty of wrong decisions. I was completely enchanted by his monologue.
The story just flows. It is written in a very “informal” style, the way a man his age would talk in real life. And it kept me glued to the pages like no other. It’s impossible not to care for the main character (we don’t even learn his name). After all, he’s telling you his entire life. His story was sad and devastating at times, but it’s an excellent one and I’m so glad I was able to read it.
As captivated I was by You Don’t Know Me, I couldn’t help but feel that the jury would be fed up with him. He talks for about ten days! And the story isn’t exactly straight-forward, as the guy surely likes to talk. Nevertheless, I thought it was endearing and I couldn’t put it down. I started it before going to bed one evening and as soon as I woke up the next morning, I read the rest in one sitting.
If you want to read something completely unique… don’t look any further. And let’s discuss it afterwards!
ARC, Michael Joseph, 2017