One of The TELEGRAPH’S CRIME BOOKS OF THE YEAR.
‘Startlingly original, grabs from the very first sentence, utterly compelling throughout’ Daily Mail
In London a young man stands accused of murder.
All the evidence points to him; the police see an open and shut case.
But at his trial, this man, who has tried to stay out of trouble all his life, tells an extraordinary story.
It is about a young woman who tried to protect her brother and got into terrible trouble. It’s about a young man who, in order to save her, entered a dark, violent world he’d avoided for so long.
He now stands in the dock and wants to tell you the truth. He needs you to believe him. Will you?
This is an amazing debut, by a gifted writer. Imran Mahmood’s You Don’t Know Me is a quality and powerful court drama, from the very first word.
We meet a young man on trial. He has sacked his barrister. He wants to represent himself to the court, on his terms. He is delivering his final speech and countering all the evidence presented by the prosecution. He is a black twenty two year old guy from inner city London. His background is working class street where gangs are prevalent and life is grim. We do not learn his name. He has been accused of murder. He says he is innocent.
Mahmood gets into the head of a desperate young man, who is eloquently stating what happened to him. We discover what lead him to the court room. The reader is the on the jury. We listen. We judge. The speaker talks a kind of London ‘gangsta speak’, the language of youth, of the street. We understand. We hear about one life. A man who has strong family bonds and a girlfriend he loves. We start to form a picture of how disadvantaged this man is and how his life has been shaped by deprivation. He is surrounded by gang culture, drugs and petty crime. He knows all about social exclusion and limited choices in life. Slowly we see how his decisions have been shaped by love and by trying to do the right thing.
My verdict is that we definitely get plenty to reflect on. I was impressed by this young man’s words. I felt empathy for his situation. I really cannot see our defendant on trial getting let off. I predict a manslaughter verdict and a lengthy term inside. The system is stacked against him. Life is unfair. I wish we knew, what happened next.
Excellent. Moving. Realistic. Recommended.