Monday, 29 November 2021

You Don’t Know Me by Imran Mahmoud

Catriona Troth

What We Thought of It:

“Right now you think, looking at me, that I’m just some foolish kid who go around shooting up people for now reason. I know you think that because I ain’t stupid and you ain’t stupid. […] That’s just what they want you to believe. That want you to think that I’m a no-brain lazy kid who go into some random street and shoot up a next man for nothing. […] But you have to see past all this smoke he’s been creating and see what’s behind it. Trust me you’ll be surprised.”.

The first-person voice of You Don’t Know Me leaps off the page and grabs you by the throat.

He is a young man accused of murder, with apparently overwhelming evidence stacked against him. And at the end of his trial, he has fired his barrister and elected to make his own closing speech for the defence – to tell the truth, against his lawyers’ advice.

Imran Mahmoud is himself a barrister. He knows court procedure. Yet it is hard to imagine any judge allowing the defendant the space to speak, more or less uninterrupted, for several days. The story that unfolds feels more like a modern version of the accounts once written down by the Ordinary of Newgate – the prison chaplain who recorded the last words of prisoners waiting to be hanged. But that is in no way a criticism. Suspend that element of disbelief and allow yourself to be immersed. Mahmoud’s unnamed narrator is an expert storyteller who will keep you on the edge of your seat until you are left, like the jury itself, to decide if he is telling the truth or an elaborately constructed lie.

So confident is the voice, so expert the peeling back of the layers, it is hard to believe this is a debut novel and not a master writer at the peak of his powers. If Mahmoud can keep writing like this, then he is surely destined to take Crime Fiction by storm.

A mini-series adaptation of the story is to air on the BBC in autumn 2021.

You’ll Enjoy This If You Loved:
Amer Anwar, Dorothy Koomson

Avoid If You Dislike:
Unreliable narrators and ambiguous conclusions.

Perfect Accompaniment: Pizza from the freezer

Genre: Crime

No comments:

Post a Comment