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You Don't Know Me

3.80  ·  Rating details ·  1,688 ratings  ·  296 reviews
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
Hardcover, 400 pages
Published May 4th 2017 by Michael Joseph
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Average rating 3.80  · 
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 ·  1,688 ratings  ·  296 reviews

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Mar 26, 2017 rated it really liked it
I had no previous knowledge of either the author or the book itself but having read the description while browsing on Net Galley felt compelled to know more.

The book features an unnamed defendant standing accused of murder, having sacked his lawyer just before the Closing Speeches. He decides to defend himself and tell all the truth even if it may harm his defence. There are eight pieces of evidence against him and as he talks us through them one by one, his life is in our hands. We, the reader
Tracy Fenton
Feb 27, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Once in a while you read a book that not only gets under your skin, but it leaves your breathless and gasping out loud. You Don’t Know Me is an incredible debut novel. Told entirely through Court Transcripts – a young man charged with murder sacks his lawyer and tells his defence story in his own voice to the jury over a period of ten days. Covering gang culture and social issues, our young narrator breathes life in his story and brings it vividly into the readers imagination. Keeping the reader ...more
Louise Wilson
Jun 01, 2017 rated it really liked it
An unnamed man stands accused of murder. Just before the closing speeches, the man sacks his lawyer and decide to give his own defence. We are told his barrister told him to leave some things out, but he thinks if he is going down for life, he might as well go down for telling the truth. With eight pieces of evidence against him, he takes us through piece one by one.

We never learn the name of the young man who stands accused of murdering a gang member. The evidence seems to prove the young man's
Liz Barnsley
Feb 15, 2017 rated it really liked it
You Don't Know Me has an interesting premise well executed, a terrifically strong and authentic character voice and an intriguing and compelling story.

Its a little early to write up a full review I'll be featuring this on the blog nearer to publication, but I loved it for its differences, the fact that the reader is the jury for this one and whilst I felt the ending was slightly weaker than the rest, overall this was an entirely gripping narrative that you just want to binge read to the end. Tha
Apr 15, 2018 rated it it was amazing
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
Renee (itsbooktalk)
Apr 25, 2017 rated it it was ok
You can find all my reviews on

The premise of this book really drew me in! The idea that someone would fire their lawyer before closing arguments in their murder trial and decide to give their own interested me. There are so many aspects of the criminal justice system that I have issues with that I thought a book about a defendant speaking out for themselves was something right up my alley.

We are immediately introduced to the defendant who remains unnamed the entire book. I th
Mar 14, 2017 rated it liked it
Shelves: arc, legal-thriller

What sounded like a really interesting prospect ended up being an above average legal thriller but not much more. I very rarely, if ever, request a title by an author I’ve never heard of or want to read but the premise of this hooked me so I took the plunge.

I had in my mind this would be more like a cross examination rather than a closing statement. I was thinking more Keyser Soze chit chat than young gangster monologue. The fact that the story unfolds from one viewpoint sort of makes it fee
Apr 16, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: crime-cops
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)
Kim Ebner
Aug 11, 2017 rated it it was ok
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Ah, I feel so torn with this one. It was a book that I really wanted to love, and that I thought I was going to love. It was, after all, a courtroom drama, and I love those. To be honest though, I battled with this read.

Basically, this story is written as one long monologue. The defendant is giving his closing argument in his own trial after having fired his advocate. The way that the story is written didn't totally grab me. I would hav
Sibel Hodge
Feb 24, 2017 rated it it was amazing
I love books hat tell a story in an unusual way, and You Don't Know Me is masterfully told by a young man on trial for murder, giving his final closing speech to the jury. It tackles many very real social issues that are often glossed over or ignored, because if it's not happening to you, why should you care? It delves into gang culture in a realistic and relatable way (kudos to the author for his research!). And shows how you can never really know or judge a person unless you've walked in their ...more
Zuky the BookBum
Jul 04, 2017 added it
Shelves: dnf, 2017
DNF @ 63%

I'm so disappointed to be putting this book down as a DNF but I just couldn't get on with it. The synopsis for this is reasonably vague and so I had created an entirely different story in my head to the one that was presented to me on paper.

First of all, I imagined this book was going to about a sophisticated, charming yet narcissistic type character, a Patrick Bateman of sorts, who was going to try to woo us and prove his innocence. If you've read the book, I'm sure you'll be laughing
Abby Slater- Fairbrother
Apr 27, 2017 rated it it was amazing
For a long time, I have been screaming for more diversity in novels and more novels that actually represent a society I live in! Well Imran Mahmood, very much delivers with his debut novel! I am aware, as is the author, (See author’s note) that some people may accuse him of using stereotypes but I discredit this on the basis that the facts, out-there exist. They indicate exactly what is explained & expanded upon in the novel. I would urge any reader put off by any such comments to give it a go. ...more
Ushasree N
Dec 31, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: favorites
My Thoughts
First, I must congratulate the cover designer. The black, white and grey colour scheme adds additional brownie points and nudges the reader to pick up the book, following the initial intrigue generated by the blurb. Life is never black and white and I wanted to delve into all the ‘greys’ of the characters, right away. Also, I have to congratulate Imran Mahmood for writing a book in an unconventional format. The entire story is a first person monologue narrated by the defendant as a cl
Jan 31, 2018 rated it really liked it
I picked up this book because I was in the mood for a legal thriller, and it was just what I was looking for even though it was totally different from any other courtroom drama I’ve read. For one, it’s told completely in the first person, in the voice of a defendant on trial for murder. Most legal thrillers take the multiple perspectives approach, showing the players on both sides of the case, so I was curious to see how the author would pull off such a limited narrative. Trust me--it totally wo ...more
Dec 05, 2017 rated it it was amazing
This book had me hooked immediately, it's original, thought provoking and I was staggered that this was a debut - the writing, structure and pacing is spot on!

Going against the advice of his barrister the narrator decides to tell his truthful version of events, making his own closing speech to the judge and jury in a murder trial. Taking several days, he goes over each piece of the damming evidence of the prosecution to tell us his 'truths'. We learn about his upbringing, his friends, the lure o
Jun 20, 2017 rated it liked it
Book reviews on

You Don’t Know Me is a novel with a really interesting-sounding storyline but one which I unfortunately just didn’t get on with. The way the story told is unique – the defendant seems to have decided to represent himself and is giving his own closing speech at his trail. We hear the story of what led up to the shooting and murder that he’s on trial for as he tells the jury, often stopping to interact with them or comment on their reactions. I liked that this w
Kate~Bibliophile Book Club
ou Don’t Know Me is one book I’d been waiting to read when I’d heard the buzz surrounding it. Essentially, it is a legal thriller, but it is written in a very unusual style if you were to compare it to others in a similar genre.

We meet the defendant, unnamed, and accused of murder. Having fired his lawyer, he decides to give his own account of what happened. Eight pieces of evidence are used in the case, and the defendant talks the jury, and the reader, through each one.

Told in the first person,
Mar 31, 2017 rated it really liked it

You Don't Know Me was a curious, new experience that took me a while to get into but once I did I was hooked. The narrative style is unlike anything I have read, with so many colloquial expressions. Stuff like 'Blood, you coming to my yard, innit?' I don't know, I am making it up but yeah those words were all used in the book.
I don't know if young black people talk like that in England but after I got used to it I was entranced.

It got a bit repetitive, es
Aug 11, 2020 rated it liked it
Shelves: 2020, 3-star-okay
When I first heard about this book I thought it sounded so good. Couldn't get it around here so I had to order from eBay. Finally got to it and I have to say I am a little disappointed.

I liked that he was getting a chance to tell his side of the story and that everything isn't always as it seems. It was just so long winded at times. The language was hard to follow at times and the ending....what was that?
Sep 17, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: audio
Refreshingly different approach. I am glad I listened to the audio version as you really feel you are in the jury listening to the defendant giving you his story.
May 25, 2017 rated it really liked it
Shelves: may-2017
I like a good legal drama/thriller so You Don’t Know Me was always going to be a book I just had to read, and I was very intrigued by the premise of the reader being a member of the jury. On trial for murder, the unknown defendant sacks his barrister just before the closing speeches and closes the trial himself. His reason for doing this … his barrister had told him to omit the truth.

I loved the unique way You Don’t Know Me is narrated. Mahmood uses the second person throughout so you really get
Oct 07, 2017 rated it liked it
A solid read about a young man accused of murdering a drug dealing gangster. The novel takes place in London but really could be describing any North American city with gang culture. The author cleverly uses the closing summaries to tell the story of how the protagonist came to be charged with murder and a desperate plea to be found innocent. As a reader, we are charged with the difficult task of determining whether we find him guilty or not.

The story is well written from the protagonist's pers
Sheena Lambert
Mar 21, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: fiction
Wow. What a great read, brilliantly written. It's great to read something with a fresh and different style. Although nothing like The Help, it reminded me of it insofar as it is also written in a particular vernacular, which I thought I might find tiring as a non-Brit, but didn't due I think to the talent of the author. This is a book I would never have assumed I would enjoy, on a subject matter (London gangs and drug scene) I would usually run a mile from, but I am glad I took a chance to read ...more
Aug 11, 2017 rated it did not like it
Shelves: dnf
I don't want to listen for over seven hours to someone who can't even speak correct English.
‘Well maybe,’ I says to him, ‘I don’t need to tell them that thing’ – and truth be told I ain’t even sure if I can tell you that thing. Coz if I do tell you that thing I’m not sure I would even survive it, you get me?

The narrator makes it even worse by using an awful accent, like swallowing every other T.
That don’t matter really, does it, if there’s no real evidence to tie me to t
Wendy Adamis
Aug 25, 2018 rated it really liked it
The story has a different approach for a murder mystery. I found it kept me interested throughout the entire book.

It gave me some insight what it could be like growing up around a gangland culture. Definitely worth the read
Apr 30, 2017 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
3.5 stars - As soon I read the synopsis for this book, I knew it was one I had to read, I was so intrigued – a young man fires his lawyer to deliver his own closing speech as he stands trial for murder.

I’m going to dive straight into the nitty gritty of my thoughts…

What I really liked about the narration style is, you really feel like a member of the jury, like the defendant is pleading his case directly to you – you hold the power; the book, the defendant, needs you, and equally you want to mak
Melanie Lewis
Oct 18, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: audible-books
This is a very, very different book, and I imagine it works much better on audio than in print. I think the idea is inspired. A brilliant and insightful look into what life is like on inner city estates where gang culture rules. Fascinating, absorbing and will stay with me for a very long time to come. A genius piece of work that I highly recommend
With thanks to Netgalley and the publisher for this ARC in exchange for an open and honest review.

You don't know Me is Imran Mahmood's debut book. When I read that Imran was a barrister I had to read this.

The plot line ingenious, a defendant is accused of murder. The defendant is not guilty, but the background to the murder is so outlandish his barrister advises him the jury will not believe him. On the final day he sacks his defence barrister and gives his own closing speech. The reader become
Sue McQuaide Kitt
Jun 24, 2017 rated it liked it
Shelves: netgalley-tbr
Being a big fan of legal thrillers, this book appealed to me immediately from the blurb.

You Don't Know Me is told from the defendant’s perspective and we never get to know his name. He has fired his lawyer and has decided to make his closing speech himself, and that is what this book is all about.... his closing argument told in his own unique voice over about ten days.

While this was an interesting and very different legal thriller, thought provoking, well written and kept me guessing throughou
T.M. Logan
Nov 01, 2017 rated it it was amazing
The best books draw you in and give you an insight into other lives, letting you in as their story unfolds. You Don't Know Me does this brilliantly, as the narrator builds a picture of his life and the impossible choices that have led up him to be standing in court on a murder charge. A great idea, well executed - and a compelling narrative voice - makes this one really stand out from the pack. Excellent thriller - recommended. ...more
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Imran Mahmood was born in Liverpool in 1969 to first generation Pakistani parents. He has been working on the criminal bar in London for over 20 years and regularly appears in jury trials across the country dealing in serious and complex criminal cases.

He now lives in South East London with his wife and is currently plotting a second novel.

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