BOOK REVIEW: You Don’t Know Me by Imran Mahmood

By Imran Mahmood
Publisher: Michael Joseph
Publication Date: 4th May 2017
Format: ARC (400 pages)

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?. (Goodreads)

Finishing You Don’t Know Me left me in quiet a conundrum. On one hand, it is a great example of a book with a very distinct style in the way that it tells this story of a guy who ends up defending his freedom. However, when I closed the book, I was left confused and a little underwhelmed.

The fact that the reader is put in the place of a jury member and the lead character is telling you the events, in his words, that have lead up to this situation. It seemed that the authors intention was for you to decide whether the defendant was guilty or not guilty. There was a slight flaw to this, for you are only really given the defendants closing statement. The Prosecutor is given one short chapter and it really doesn’t give you enough to make up your mind. To do this, you really need to have seen the actually court proceedings before hand.

What really did save this book was the defendants recount of the events that lead up to killing of the victim. Like any tale of woe, this seemed to centre round the defendants girlfriend. It seemed that as soon he got into a relationship with her, his path was set. His love or dedication to Kira is the catalyst to his downfall.

While reading about her role in the murder, I couldn’t help but wonder where she was and why she had not given evidence in his defence or as a co-defendant. As the book got nearer to the victim’s killing, my unease seemed to increase, especially when the defendant stated that Kira would leave and meet someone in order to try to get them out of the cross-hairs of the two gangs who they had gotten on the wrong side of.

At first I really felt for Kira, especially with what happened with her brother. Yet, after she returns to the defendant, there is a darkness around her and it seems that she pulls the defendant deeper and deeper into this dangerous world. I could feel that things were sitting on a timebomb. When things blow up, the blow up big and Kira just disappears. To go into more detail would spoil a part of the tale, but when Kira returns near the end of the book a tale is spun and I can’t help but feel that this full account could be one of two things.

A) This was all an elaborate plot to get Kira’s brother out of this situation and the defendant was the fall guy.
B) This is a tall tale and a last ditch attempt to try to throw some doubt onto the proscutions case.
Even now I am still unsure, especially without the defendants “friend” Curt, who is also missing. According the defendant he is in Spain, but I would think that he would have been called back to the UK for the trial. As I have said, I am not sure of the legal proceedings so this may be correct.

Regardless of the plausibility, the book did shine a light on how easily that someone can be pulled into a gang. It was gripping stuff and I was sucked into this tale, regardless if it was true or not.

The book was great attempt at a debut novel and the execution is something I have never read before. For me it just fell short of being an excellent read, mainly due to the fact that if the authors aim was for me to make a choice between guilty or not guilty, I couldn’t due to the fact I felt I didn’t have the full picture. It was a snap shot of a trial and it seemed as though we had come in at the end of this.

I will be interested to see what the author will produce next and this is a strong start for a debut novel.




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2 thoughts on “BOOK REVIEW: You Don’t Know Me by Imran Mahmood

  1. You’ve missed the point entirely. You don’t need to have seen the trial to know that the premise of the book is the defendant’s guilt is absolute. That is the template you are given at the start. He is guilty. Then you get the closing speech and the point of the book is did he say enough to put reasonable doubt in your mind.

    As a member of the jury I could not have voted to convict, so my verdict would have been not guilty.

    • You make some very valid points. It has been a little while since I read this book, but I do remember it having a unique way of telling a courtroom drama.

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