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With Prejudice

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The "exciting" and "clever" debut thriller (New York Times Book Review): No one knows what happened that night. Seven strangers must decide. Earl Thomas, a straight-laced taxman with his fair share of police encounters, is the begrudging foreperson in a high-stakes trial in Miami. Laura Hurtado-Perez is a physician whose unassuming manner conceals a private pain. Joseph Col The "exciting" and "clever" debut thriller (New York Times Book Review): No one knows what happened that night. Seven strangers must decide. Earl Thomas, a straight-laced taxman with his fair share of police encounters, is the begrudging foreperson in a high-stakes trial in Miami. Laura Hurtado-Perez is a physician whose unassuming manner conceals a private pain. Joseph Cole is the founder of his local neighborhood watch, unduly obsessed with the families around him. Along with four others, these jurors of varying ages and walks of life whose paths would likely never have otherwise crossed must come together to make one of the most important decisions of their lives. On the night Melina Mora, a free-spirited woman both proud and kind, was murdered, she was seen with a young man of Gabriel Soto’s description. Two strands of her hair were found in his bedroom. Sandy Grunwald, a young prosecutor whose political ambitions depend on securing a conviction, finds herself pitted against Jordan Whipple, a preening public defender armed with a freshly discovered, dynamite piece of evidence on the eve of the trial—if the Honorable Darla Tackett will admit it. What Sandy, Jordan, and Judge Tackett all know, however, is that the criminal justice system is complicated, and everyone has a story—especially the jury. And it’s their experiences, biases, and beliefs that will ultimately shape the verdict. With striking originality and expert storytelling, Robin Peguero’s debut novel explores the prejudice that hangs over every trial in America. You’ve never read a legal thriller quite like this. There’s never been a thriller writer quite like Peguero. And you will not be able to predict how it all ends.


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The "exciting" and "clever" debut thriller (New York Times Book Review): No one knows what happened that night. Seven strangers must decide. Earl Thomas, a straight-laced taxman with his fair share of police encounters, is the begrudging foreperson in a high-stakes trial in Miami. Laura Hurtado-Perez is a physician whose unassuming manner conceals a private pain. Joseph Col The "exciting" and "clever" debut thriller (New York Times Book Review): No one knows what happened that night. Seven strangers must decide. Earl Thomas, a straight-laced taxman with his fair share of police encounters, is the begrudging foreperson in a high-stakes trial in Miami. Laura Hurtado-Perez is a physician whose unassuming manner conceals a private pain. Joseph Cole is the founder of his local neighborhood watch, unduly obsessed with the families around him. Along with four others, these jurors of varying ages and walks of life whose paths would likely never have otherwise crossed must come together to make one of the most important decisions of their lives. On the night Melina Mora, a free-spirited woman both proud and kind, was murdered, she was seen with a young man of Gabriel Soto’s description. Two strands of her hair were found in his bedroom. Sandy Grunwald, a young prosecutor whose political ambitions depend on securing a conviction, finds herself pitted against Jordan Whipple, a preening public defender armed with a freshly discovered, dynamite piece of evidence on the eve of the trial—if the Honorable Darla Tackett will admit it. What Sandy, Jordan, and Judge Tackett all know, however, is that the criminal justice system is complicated, and everyone has a story—especially the jury. And it’s their experiences, biases, and beliefs that will ultimately shape the verdict. With striking originality and expert storytelling, Robin Peguero’s debut novel explores the prejudice that hangs over every trial in America. You’ve never read a legal thriller quite like this. There’s never been a thriller writer quite like Peguero. And you will not be able to predict how it all ends.

30 review for With Prejudice

  1. 4 out of 5

    Jayme

    Have you ever wondered what it would be like to sit on a jury for a murder trial? Well, get ready to be seated in the jury box for the trial of Gabriel Soto, accused of murdering Melina Mora. There are no witnesses and there is no murder weapon. Throughout this legal thriller, we will get snippets of the events which touched the lives of the jurors we meet, causing them to bring to the deliberations, certain biases and beliefs, which may shape the verdict. “YOU DON’T PICK A JURY-YOU ARE LEFT WITH Have you ever wondered what it would be like to sit on a jury for a murder trial? Well, get ready to be seated in the jury box for the trial of Gabriel Soto, accused of murdering Melina Mora. There are no witnesses and there is no murder weapon. Throughout this legal thriller, we will get snippets of the events which touched the lives of the jurors we meet, causing them to bring to the deliberations, certain biases and beliefs, which may shape the verdict. “YOU DON’T PICK A JURY-YOU ARE LEFT WITH ONE” This ENLIGHTENING view into our legal system is the STRENGTH of the novel. *** Sandy Grunwald, is an ambitious young prosecutor, sleeping with a reporter, who has her sights set on a Political career. That is about all of the character development that we get. This is the book’s WEAKNESS. We watch her in court, trying to manipulate the witnesses with quick thinking, using what little evidence she has to secure a win-but we don’t spend much time with her outside of the courtroom. The story would have benefited from more BALANCE between court case and story. Although I felt like I was supposed to be rooting for Sandy-I didn’t get to know her well enough and I never felt a connection. I always enjoy the “back and forth” banter between opposing counsel in legal thrillers, but this trial took 258 pages before the State rested its case. With ONLY 51 pages left, we are treated to some VERY surprising twists, and the truth about what really happened on the night in question… BUT-It just took too long to get to this part. Will a last minute witness change everything? Or once again expose the flaws in our justice system? No doubt that debut author, Robin Peguero, a prosecutor with many other admirable accomplishments, knows his stuff-and I look forward to seeing what’s next from him as he grows as an author. Thank You to Grand Central Publishing for the gifted ARC. It was my pleasure to offer a candid review! Available May 17, 2022

  2. 5 out of 5

    Kaceey

    2.5* One of my favorites go-to reads are legal thrillers! Always love the fascinating courtroom drama, anxious for my Perry Mason, jaw-dropping moment. This book begins in the jury room as we meet a few of the jurors selected to sit in on a murder trial. We also meet the prosecutor and get a glimpse of the trial itself. At the start I was all in and enjoying! But that came to a quick dead-end. There are so many convoluted back stories and side stories that the actual legal components got lost. The 2.5* One of my favorites go-to reads are legal thrillers! Always love the fascinating courtroom drama, anxious for my Perry Mason, jaw-dropping moment. This book begins in the jury room as we meet a few of the jurors selected to sit in on a murder trial. We also meet the prosecutor and get a glimpse of the trial itself. At the start I was all in and enjoying! But that came to a quick dead-end. There are so many convoluted back stories and side stories that the actual legal components got lost. The transitions between these stories and the trial totally flip when you least expect it. As a result I was constantly confused. Never knowing if I was reading someone’s backstory or which juror that story belonged to as they would only be referred to as numbers at the trial. And though there were important social issues within the pages, the entirety of the book became too confusing and all but impossible to follow along. Thank you to NetGalley and Grand Central Publishing

  3. 5 out of 5

    DeAnn

    2.5 Legal Stars This is a courtroom drama where the jurors are center stage. We learn the backgrounds and stories for the jurors while watching the trial unfold. The trial is around the murder of Melina Mora and Gabriel Soto is the accused. We meet prosecutor Sandy Grunwald and learn some of her philosophy and strategy around the case. We also get a bit of insight into the judge. Unfortunately, this one did not hold my interest. I found the transitions in describing the characters to be abrupt and 2.5 Legal Stars This is a courtroom drama where the jurors are center stage. We learn the backgrounds and stories for the jurors while watching the trial unfold. The trial is around the murder of Melina Mora and Gabriel Soto is the accused. We meet prosecutor Sandy Grunwald and learn some of her philosophy and strategy around the case. We also get a bit of insight into the judge. Unfortunately, this one did not hold my interest. I found the transitions in describing the characters to be abrupt and it interrupted the flow of reading for me. There are definitely biases we all have about the legal system and those showed up here in the stories with each character. I didn’t really connect with the characters, nor did I find myself rooting for them. There is one twist at the end that caught me off guard and I had to go back and re-read that part. I think this author is very knowledgeable about legal matters, but this was not a compelling legal thriller for me. My thanks to Grand Central Publishing for the gifted ARC. This one is scheduled to publish 5.17.22.

  4. 4 out of 5

    Lisa

    dnf at page 177 - started off promising but veered off course. The author is trying to cram every minor character's back story into the novel instead of focusing on what matters. dnf at page 177 - started off promising but veered off course. The author is trying to cram every minor character's back story into the novel instead of focusing on what matters.

  5. 4 out of 5

    Denise

    I love legal thrillers and had high hopes for this one after reading the author's bio, but unfortunately this is one of those books in which the juice is definitely not worth the squeeze. In fact, it was nearly a DNF for me. A young woman is brutally raped and murdered, a suspect is in custody, and a courtroom drama ensues. That's the long and the short of it. There was much potential at the beginning, but it quickly turned into a jumbled, complex, hot mess. The plot explores not only the defend I love legal thrillers and had high hopes for this one after reading the author's bio, but unfortunately this is one of those books in which the juice is definitely not worth the squeeze. In fact, it was nearly a DNF for me. A young woman is brutally raped and murdered, a suspect is in custody, and a courtroom drama ensues. That's the long and the short of it. There was much potential at the beginning, but it quickly turned into a jumbled, complex, hot mess. The plot explores not only the defendant, but also the prosecutor and the public defender, their second chairs, and every single member of the jury. The characters are all stereotypical in nearly every way - although Peguero tries to mix it up. He makes the court appointed defense attorney a sexist republican, and a radical feminist as a prosecutor, who is very confident in her progressivism. The problem is that honestly none of the characters are likable in any way, despite their portrayals. The actual murder plot was bizarre and erratic, at times I had no idea what really took place at all. There were also too many choppy transitions involving the secondary characters - mostly the jurors - sometimes they were referred to by juror number and then other times by name, making it confusing to even know who is being referred to and their relevance to the plot. My biggest disappointment though was that by about halfway mark, I said to myself, "x is going to happen when it comes to the verdict, and then you will find out x" and I was completely right. And not because of great legal intuition - it was just that predictable. While I applaud Peguero for his noble effort to try and shine a light on the prejudices that taint trials in the US, in the end, the only thing memorable about this book was the overall sense of disappointment I felt after finishing it. 2 stars.

  6. 4 out of 5

    Carrie

    Review coming soon.

  7. 4 out of 5

    Shereadbookblog

    I really don’t want to say too much about the plot except it involves the trial of a man accused of rape and murder. It is an interesting approach to a legal thriller. We learn not only the machinations of the prosecution and the defense, but also get insight into the life experiences (and prejudices) brought to a trial by individual jurors, police, attorneys, witnesses. The author has a good sense of today’s societal, racial and cultural divides and there is even some humor injected. There are I really don’t want to say too much about the plot except it involves the trial of a man accused of rape and murder. It is an interesting approach to a legal thriller. We learn not only the machinations of the prosecution and the defense, but also get insight into the life experiences (and prejudices) brought to a trial by individual jurors, police, attorneys, witnesses. The author has a good sense of today’s societal, racial and cultural divides and there is even some humor injected. There are a lot of characters and that could be confusing. It is only near the end when some of that confusion is clarified. I could say more about that, but it might be considered a spoiler. This was a fast read that I enjoyed. Thank you to netgalley and grandcentralpublishing for the DRC Follow me on Instagram at: https://www.instagram.com/shereadbook...

  8. 4 out of 5

    Danielle Mootz

    It's been awhile since I read a court drama and I enjoyed this one very much. It reminded me of a Shakespearean story within a story with lots of twists and turns and unforseeable happenings. I loved the character development with the attorneys. The depth of these characters made the novel all the more addicting. It's been awhile since I read a court drama and I enjoyed this one very much. It reminded me of a Shakespearean story within a story with lots of twists and turns and unforseeable happenings. I loved the character development with the attorneys. The depth of these characters made the novel all the more addicting.

  9. 4 out of 5

    Stacy40pages

    With Prejudice by Robin Peguero. Thanks to @novelsuspects and @grandcentralpublishing for the gifted Arc ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ Social recluse Gabriel Soto is accused of murdering fun-loving Melina Mora. Prosecutor Sandy Grunwald knows this case can make her future, but everyone has their own story in the courtroom.. including the jury. Reading this I wondered why I don’t come across more mainstream legal thrillers. I was enthralled by this and couldn’t put it down. The court room scenes are tense and dramat With Prejudice by Robin Peguero. Thanks to @novelsuspects and @grandcentralpublishing for the gifted Arc ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ Social recluse Gabriel Soto is accused of murdering fun-loving Melina Mora. Prosecutor Sandy Grunwald knows this case can make her future, but everyone has their own story in the courtroom.. including the jury. Reading this I wondered why I don’t come across more mainstream legal thrillers. I was enthralled by this and couldn’t put it down. The court room scenes are tense and dramatic, but we get way more than that. I loved the look into each character’s history and how we all have prejudices. There were some wild twists that I was not expecting. This is one you’ll want to reread immediately after closing it. “The facts don’t matter. All that matters are the lenses with which people view those facts. And that isn’t shaped here in the courtroom. That was shaped long ago, over the course of a lifetime of experiences.” With Prejudice comes out 5/17.

  10. 5 out of 5

    Maureen Tumenas

    Thanks to NetGalley and to Grand Central Publishing for the review copy. This is an excellent legal thriller. The characters are well-developed and the story is fast-paced, keeps you on your toes. It was interesting to see both sides of the trial, both prosecution and defense, as well as a peak at the judge's perspective. Hope to see the sequel very soon. Highly recommended. Thanks to NetGalley and to Grand Central Publishing for the review copy. This is an excellent legal thriller. The characters are well-developed and the story is fast-paced, keeps you on your toes. It was interesting to see both sides of the trial, both prosecution and defense, as well as a peak at the judge's perspective. Hope to see the sequel very soon. Highly recommended.

  11. 4 out of 5

    Emily Christopher

    With Prejudice ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ Genre: Thriller Format: Kindle eBook Date Published: 5/17/22 Author: Robin Peguero Publisher: Grand Central Publishing Pages: 320 Goodreads Rating: 3.72 Thank you to NetGalley and Grand Central Publishing for providing a copy of the book for me to read in exchange for my honest opinion. Synopsis: These jurors of varying ages and walks of life whose paths would likely never have otherwise crossed must come together to make one of the most important decisions of their lives.On With Prejudice ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ Genre: Thriller Format: Kindle eBook Date Published: 5/17/22 Author: Robin Peguero Publisher: Grand Central Publishing Pages: 320 Goodreads Rating: 3.72 Thank you to NetGalley and Grand Central Publishing for providing a copy of the book for me to read in exchange for my honest opinion. Synopsis: These jurors of varying ages and walks of life whose paths would likely never have otherwise crossed must come together to make one of the most important decisions of their lives.On the night Melina Mora, a free-spirited woman both proud and kind, was murdered, she was seen with a young man of Gabriel Soto’s description. Two strands of her hair were found in his bedroom. Sandy Grunwald, a young prosecutor whose political ambitions depend on securing a conviction, finds herself pitted against Jordan Whipple, a preening public defender armed with a freshly discovered, dynamite piece of evidence on the eve of the trial—if the Honorable Darla Tackett will admit it. What Sandy, Jordan, and Judge Tackett all know, however, is that the criminal justice system is complicated, and everyone has a story—especially the jury. And it’s their experiences, biases, and beliefs that will ultimately shape the verdict. My Thoughts: The chapters are long but there are only 12 chapters so it does go by pretty fast. There are multiple POVs in the story. Sometimes, it was hard to follow who was talking about what, but eventually I caught on, once I continued reading. I really love how we read the facts of the case, the jurors background, the verdict, and what really happened, that was very cool. The author did an amazing job on character development. My favorite had to be the prosecutor, Sandy. I felt like I was right there with Sandy prosecuting this case. Legal thrillers are my favorite, probably because I am a paralegal by day. This book releases tomorrow, I would highly recommend purchasing it. A very good read that I thoroughly enjoyed. . . . . . #books #reading #bookstagram #whatimreading #booklover #thriller #legalthriller #suspense #bookclubpicks #2022bookgoals #bookpost #bookclubpicks #Book-Reviews #bookstagrammer #bookpost #netgalley #withprejudice #robinpeguero #grandcentralpublishing

  12. 5 out of 5

    Cari

    This book was so fast-paced that I finished it in a day! I couldn't believe it when I looked at my Kindle and saw I was already at 70%. If you're a sucker for trial books (like THE HOLDOUT and any of Jodi Picoult's trial books) this one is for you. Peguero has been a homicide prosecutor and now works in the House as investigative counsel. He knows his stuff. The trial starts at the beginning and is interspersed with information from other perspectives, mostly from jury members. But the judge and This book was so fast-paced that I finished it in a day! I couldn't believe it when I looked at my Kindle and saw I was already at 70%. If you're a sucker for trial books (like THE HOLDOUT and any of Jodi Picoult's trial books) this one is for you. Peguero has been a homicide prosecutor and now works in the House as investigative counsel. He knows his stuff. The trial starts at the beginning and is interspersed with information from other perspectives, mostly from jury members. But the judge and a reporter sneak in there too, among others. The point of view is omniscient, which is a risky choice but works well here. The lead prosecutor is Sandy Grunwald, whose father was an eminent judge. This is an important case for Sandy--she needs to prove that the defendant, Gabriel Soto, killed the victim, Melina Mora. Jordan Whipple, the smarmy lawyer on the opposite side, gives her a run for her money. I'm really hoping there will be a sequel and Sandy will appear again. I liked her and want to see more of her.

  13. 4 out of 5

    Suzanne

    4.1 - interesting glimpse into the jurors, judges, and attorneys in the trial - not often that jurors get much attention in a novel; some of the flashbacks could have been clearer as to dates, but that let to some of the suspense/thrill; would have been a great contender for the Harper Lee Prize if it wasn't on hiatus 4.1 - interesting glimpse into the jurors, judges, and attorneys in the trial - not often that jurors get much attention in a novel; some of the flashbacks could have been clearer as to dates, but that let to some of the suspense/thrill; would have been a great contender for the Harper Lee Prize if it wasn't on hiatus

  14. 5 out of 5

    Aimee Dars

    Melina Mora, a fun-loving and generous woman living in Miami, disappears from a bar after having last been seen with a man matching the description of Gabriel Soto, a young man living in an isolated area outside the city. Two strands of her hair are found in his rented house—but only in the third search. Much of the remaining evidence is circumstantial. Prosecutor Sandy Grunwald, the daughter of a lawyer who became a well-known judge, has political ambitions, but needs to win this case in order Melina Mora, a fun-loving and generous woman living in Miami, disappears from a bar after having last been seen with a man matching the description of Gabriel Soto, a young man living in an isolated area outside the city. Two strands of her hair are found in his rented house—but only in the third search. Much of the remaining evidence is circumstantial. Prosecutor Sandy Grunwald, the daughter of a lawyer who became a well-known judge, has political ambitions, but needs to win this case in order to position herself as viable future candidate. Public defender Jordan Whipple, competitive and unrelenting, knows the system as well as Sandy and is confident he can achieve a not guilty verdict—especially if the Honorable Darla Tackett will admit a piece of evidence discovered at the eleventh hour that casts doubt on his client’s guilt. Regardless of the evidence, the lawyers know that the verdict depends not only on the story they tell the jury, but on how the individual jury members interpret it. And their individual perspectives are unique to their family backgrounds, past experiences, and attitudes, beliefs, and biases. If they can determine the best way to appeal to the jury, using all the techniques at their disposal, they have a better chance of winning. The question is, does winning equate to justice? This is the best, most thrilling courtroom drama I have read in recent memory. Peguero, who attended Harvard Law School, spent seven years as a prosecutor, and the book benefits from his expertise. Everything felt extremely authentic and believable, especially the objections made by the lawyers! Before becoming a lawyer, Peguero was a journalist and speechwriter. I liked his writing, but more that the style, I was fascinated by the construction of the story. I was very invested in the case and the characters, and then I was just blown away by the ending. It reminded me of some of the most clever courtroom movies I’ve seen which I won’t mention because of possible spoilers. I had no idea that Florida juries had only six people. Each of the six jurors—all with their particular surprising backstories that influence their decision-making—have chapters, as do the counselors and judge. The multiple perspectives in this book are effective and necessary but keeping a character list is a good idea! WITHOUT PREJUDICE is a good choice for those interested in courtroom dramas, legal thrillers, or small group decision-making. Thank you so much to Grand Central Publishing for sending me an advanced reading copy!

  15. 5 out of 5

    Ceylan (CeyGo)

    ✔️ fast paced ✔️ most legal thrillers focus on the accused, the victim and the lawyers; this one also gives us insights into each of the jurors , and some other key characters in the trial- I loved this, although I kind of wish I had a list of all jurors with a brief description to refer back to - I was getting confused 🤷‍♀️ ✔️ lot of insights and perspectives on race and racism in this book ✔️ I definitely didn’t see that twist or the ending coming !

  16. 5 out of 5

    Susan

    It is good for what it is. For some reason I thought this was going to be a thriller crossed with a modern day 12 angry men. It wasn't that. But for what it was, it was good. It is good for what it is. For some reason I thought this was going to be a thriller crossed with a modern day 12 angry men. It wasn't that. But for what it was, it was good.

  17. 5 out of 5

    Debra Berding

    Let me start off by saying that I never expected to read this in one sitting. I was kind of put off from the first chapter, but I am glad that I continued reading. It was interesting to include the jurors' backstories, and I don't think that I've ever read a book where they went into so many of the jurors' details. It really added to the story. The trial was much more interesting than I thought it would be, and the two main lawyers had well developed characters, even though there was a little bi Let me start off by saying that I never expected to read this in one sitting. I was kind of put off from the first chapter, but I am glad that I continued reading. It was interesting to include the jurors' backstories, and I don't think that I've ever read a book where they went into so many of the jurors' details. It really added to the story. The trial was much more interesting than I thought it would be, and the two main lawyers had well developed characters, even though there was a little bit of stereotyping. I did waffle back and forth throughout about whether the accused really did commit the crime. You have to think about where you are in the time line because it did switch around, but it didn't detract from the story. I personally would have preferred a different ending, but it was still a good book. I would read more books by this author.

  18. 4 out of 5

    Michael Travis

    I love a good legal yarn. Robin seemed to lose track with his step back in time moments with characters to build more color...at least I had issue with them being more disruptive than seamless.

  19. 5 out of 5

    Rebecca

    Thanks to Grand Central and Novel Suspects Insiders for an advance copy for honest review. I didn't reread the synopsis or look too much into this book before I started reading it, and I'd recommend going into this one as fresh as possible because this was such a well written ride. This is Robin Peguero's debut novel (I'm hoping for many more to come), and his years of experience in the legal field contribute to a very authentic sensibility to this courtroom drama. It's got a lot of subtlety to i Thanks to Grand Central and Novel Suspects Insiders for an advance copy for honest review. I didn't reread the synopsis or look too much into this book before I started reading it, and I'd recommend going into this one as fresh as possible because this was such a well written ride. This is Robin Peguero's debut novel (I'm hoping for many more to come), and his years of experience in the legal field contribute to a very authentic sensibility to this courtroom drama. It's got a lot of subtlety to it, making clear the issues of biases that come into play for juries, issues of race and gender and more that impact courtroom outcomes. As much of the story is set in the courtroom, it's a dialogue heavy story, which keeps it moving along quickly, but short character backgrounds in the forms of vignettes from their lives lets readers get to know the players. Loved this.

  20. 5 out of 5

    Alicia

    I saw a few reviews saying this started out slow, but I disagree. I’m very picky about legal thrillers and this one had me hooked immediately. (Plus I can not do slow burns) It has such a unique storyline and was very well paced. Even though the chapters were long they flew by. I love getting the background of all the characters. I could see this being a little confusing to follow for some but I got use to the writing style pretty quickly. This story felt so real because there truly is no such t I saw a few reviews saying this started out slow, but I disagree. I’m very picky about legal thrillers and this one had me hooked immediately. (Plus I can not do slow burns) It has such a unique storyline and was very well paced. Even though the chapters were long they flew by. I love getting the background of all the characters. I could see this being a little confusing to follow for some but I got use to the writing style pretty quickly. This story felt so real because there truly is no such thing as without prejudice. Everyone has lenses that we see the world through, and those lenses get clouded with what we are taught and our experiences. I will certainly be looking for more from this author in the future.

  21. 5 out of 5

    TC

    Recommended Review posted at Tzer Island book blog: https://www.tzerisland.com/bookblog/2... Recommended Review posted at Tzer Island book blog: https://www.tzerisland.com/bookblog/2...

  22. 5 out of 5

    Brittany

    I read this book quickly and never knew quite what I should expect to come next. Throughout the book, we get a view inside the backstory of each juror and other characters playing a role in the trial, and how this creates bias that affects their decisions. Quick read and a unique take on a legal thriller. Received an ARC in a Goodreads giveaway.

  23. 5 out of 5

    Enchanted Prose

    Test your investigative skills. Clue: Focus on the Jurors (South Miami, Florida; 2011 & 2001): Ready for jury duty from the comfort of your home? Ready to see how scrupulous you are as a reader? Ready to “play the game”? Seeking justice is not a game of course. It’s a man’s life we’re talking about. In this case Gabriel Soto’s, accused of raping and murdering Melina Mora two years before the trial is about to begin. But as Robin Peguero, former homicide prosecutor in Miami shows us – strategicall Test your investigative skills. Clue: Focus on the Jurors (South Miami, Florida; 2011 & 2001): Ready for jury duty from the comfort of your home? Ready to see how scrupulous you are as a reader? Ready to “play the game”? Seeking justice is not a game of course. It’s a man’s life we’re talking about. In this case Gabriel Soto’s, accused of raping and murdering Melina Mora two years before the trial is about to begin. But as Robin Peguero, former homicide prosecutor in Miami shows us – strategically, methodically, brilliantly – a game is afoot inside and outside the courtroom. This supposed hall of justice is situated in the highly diverse multiethnic, multicultural community of South Miami. We know the criminal justice system is broken when it comes to people of color, but maybe not as pervasive and bungling. Dear Reader: you’re part of the game. You don’t realize you’re being played until you reach the if-you-can-figure-out-the-ending. Assume nothing. Pay close attention. Take notes if you have to, as this literary game is awfully clever, distracting, and deceptive. “Deception is entirely constitutional.” Riveting too, so you’ll want to compare your verdict with the jury’s. Peguero is laser-focused on racial and ethnic prejudices and biases woven into the backstories of jurors, defendant, victim, witnesses, lawyers, detectives, and law enforcement officers. You’ll be assessing the credibility of everyone, including counsel defending their clients: Sandy Grunwald, arguing for the State of Florida and victim Melina Mora; Johnny Whipple, public defender, going to bat for Gabriela Soto to save him from a miserable fate. Mora and Soto are both Latinos. She from Columbia, he Cuban. A crash course of how hard it would be to be one of the jurors on a murder trial. The key witness initially identified Soto as a black man she saw arguing with a beautiful young woman outside a bar at night. Later, she changes her testimony to a lighter skinned Cuban man. Mistaken identity? Bad memory? Prejudice? Expect characters to be tainted by conflicts-of-interests the reader concludes or perceives, to include Sandy’s Lead Detective; the Chief Medical Examiner; influence of big money and ambitions; and the reporter inside the court Dominico Santos, who cares about the “fourth estate” but cares more about Sandy, his girlfriend. She acutely aware of conveying the proper female image, drummed into her head by her father the Honorable Jack Grunwald. Write What You Know. A literary mantra and compelling reason With Prejudice is an extremely well-conceived, hard-hitting thriller. Peguero’s credentials displayed in his razor-sharp prose make him the only person whose credibility we don’t question. Like Sandy, he’s had seven years of experience prosecuting murder cases, so he’s turned from “storytelling to jurors” to storytelling about jurors. He’s also been the speechwriter for presidential candidate Senator Amy Klobuchar, wrote for the Harvard Law Review, and the Miami Herald. Currently, he serves as a legal advisor to Congress on domestic terrorism. At the heart of it all, is his father’s experience as a victim of racial profiling. “I’m angry,” he writes. “I am angry at a system – and maybe at myself – for thinking that in dressing myself up in Harvard-degrees, in sweaters and collared shirts, in affectations of the powerful, that I have rendered myself un-arrestable.” This stellar crime novel allows for a healthy and pointed way for the author to funnel his indignation at systemic racism in the legal system and society as a whole. It’s impossible not to be moved by what you’ll read when you get an insider’s stinging view of one case. Fictional, yet inspired by realities. “You don’t pick a jury. You’re left with a jury,” Sandy tells her intern. So by the time “voir dire” – a legal term for jury selection that’s as much art and psychology as anything else – is completed, you’re left with a “race to the bottom” selecting jurors who aren’t “too informed.” “Doublespeak” is cited, applying even to the title. With prejudice is also a legal term that means a judge can make a decision that’s binding, versus a decision without prejudice that can be changed. You’ll learn other legal terms not defined but inferred such as the Babson Challenge, Rape Shield Rule, Richardson violation, Section 1983. You’ll also get a primer on the most respectful way to characterize someone of Latin ethnicity. For instance, the victim is first described as Hispanic, while later more appropriately as Columbian. Referring to someone by their country of origin shows greater respect for a person’s identity, if we have to label people at all. She could also be described as Latina. The author makes the point that Hispanic refers to someone from the US, Latino to someone from a Latin American country. The two are typically used interchangeably. Again, Peguero’s personal story makes him a credible source. Apparently, when he was younger he identified himself as “Black and Hispanic;” today he calls himself “Afro-Latino” of Dominican and Ecuadorian heritage. The specificity also implies that not all people from the Dominican Republic are black, nor prefer to be called black. The message is: be conscious of stereotyping people, which unconsciously reveals our own prejudice, lack of understanding, or consideration. The uphill battle of proving sexual assault in a rape case is a key factor in the jury’s decision. It doesn’t help that Melina was head-turning attractive and a free-spirit with men, so the case is ready-made for assuming consensual sex. Until the first unexpected game-changing twist on the evening before the trial starts, bombshell evidence indicating Soto is gay. So he couldn’t possibly have committed the crime, his counsel argues. Could he be bisexual? Is narrow-mindedness a form of prejudice? Unlike Peguero, Sandy is white. A liberal Democrat versus her Republican counterpart Whittle. Which is why on page six Sandy also tells her intern: “Honestly, I could tell you the verdict from the moment the six of them are selected . . . I’d only need to ask one question: Who did you vote for in the last election?” Catch something that throws you off? Not the politics, but the number 6? Why only six jurors, with an alternate, when most juries require twelve? Googling, you’ll learn Florida is one of very few states where you only need half the model. Representative/diverse enough? Gender matters too. Sandy prefers male jurors. The older, the more conservative, the better. Men without hearts not women who are too soft. Her goal: win. “Nothing is more important to her than her ambition.” The evidence is limited: two strands of the victim’s hair; the creepy claim of a body when only some bones were found; and another witness who commented on Soto’s isolated, bare-bone conditions living on the same out-of-the-way farm, noticing a light and hearing screaming inside the tiny quarters of a loner. Is it a crime to live “off the grid”? Couple that with law enforcement conducting a shabby investigation based on assumptions and you’re off with planting the seeds of doubt that should influence a jury’s decision. “The power of relatability” also matters. Who do you think the jury will believe? Ironically, the passionate male public defender or the cool “restraint” of the prosecutor? To simulate how hard it is to be on a jury with a lot to pay attention to and weed out, the novel is loaded with backstories that transition abruptly, throwing the reader off kilter. Intentionally. An effective technique that may cause you to miss the clues that will affect your verdict. Lorraine (EnchantedProse.com)

  24. 5 out of 5

    Amy Byers

    Great Book!!!!! I need to read more by Robin!!!!!

  25. 5 out of 5

    Susan McGrath

    I received an advance copy of With Prejudice by Robin Peguero from the publisher (Grand Central Publishing). With Prejudice was released on May 17, 2022. With Prejudice does not have a main character. Instead, we explore a web of characters, all involved in a court case. We meet lawyers, judges, jury members, and defendants. We move back and forth in time, seeing the characters during the current trial, as well as in their past. The focus for all of the characters is their prejudice. Peguero uses I received an advance copy of With Prejudice by Robin Peguero from the publisher (Grand Central Publishing). With Prejudice was released on May 17, 2022. With Prejudice does not have a main character. Instead, we explore a web of characters, all involved in a court case. We meet lawyers, judges, jury members, and defendants. We move back and forth in time, seeing the characters during the current trial, as well as in their past. The focus for all of the characters is their prejudice. Peguero uses his narrative to explore how the life experiences of every person introduces prejudice, affecting how they perceive the world and the humans in it. Peguero does not present any of his characters as evil, or even bad. Instead, he creates well-rounded characters that allow us to understand how they each came to their bias, and forces us to consider our own prejudice. A secondary, but very important consideration, is how the prejudice of individual participants can potentially skew the results of a trial. Peguero is a prosecutor in “real life,” and brings this to the novel, creating a very believable exploration of what happens in the court room and the adjacent jury room. Due to the size of the cast, and the shifts in time, it does take some work from the reader to piece the story together. Peguero gives you everything you need, but gives you space to sort through the evidence he presents. As a reader, it is satisfying to build the web the pieces creates for yourself. It is even more satisfying when a late twist in the story makes you reconsider everything that came before, tear the web you so carefully constructed apart, and reassemble the pieces. At the end of the novel, I had the urge to immediately flip back to page one and begin reading again, wanting to see the story again with my new knowledge. Overall, With Prejudice is a well crafted legal thriller that also manages to make the reader think about the prejudice around them and the prejudice within.

  26. 4 out of 5

    Stephanie (read_with_steph)

    I picked up With Prejudice after hearing a rave review and comparisons to 12 Angry Men. As a lawyer (albeit not a criminal one, and in an unemotional field of law to boot), I tend to steer clear of legal thrillers, though every now and then one catches my eye--particularly when the focus is on the jury, not the lawyers. In this story, the author takes a close look at everyone involved, be it the lawyers, jurors, witnesses, judge, and even the defendant. We find out about perhaps their worst trai I picked up With Prejudice after hearing a rave review and comparisons to 12 Angry Men. As a lawyer (albeit not a criminal one, and in an unemotional field of law to boot), I tend to steer clear of legal thrillers, though every now and then one catches my eye--particularly when the focus is on the jury, not the lawyers. In this story, the author takes a close look at everyone involved, be it the lawyers, jurors, witnesses, judge, and even the defendant. We find out about perhaps their worst traits--their prejudices--but also understand their humanity at the same time. The book is told in rather confusing interwoven timelines and perspectives, though as the book nears its close you realize it was done on purpose. To avoid spoilers, I won't say much more than that, except there was more of a twist than I was expecting. Overall, I was enthralled, and struggled to put the book down and get some sleep. For fans of the legal system or those who want a closer look at juries, and want a book that doesn't avoid the biases we enter the legal system with, this is an excellent read. Thanks to GCP for my eARC and finished copy! All thoughts and opinions are my own. 5 stars - 8/10

  27. 5 out of 5

    Keri

    I couldn’t put this book down! This novel was unlike any others that I’ve read in that we got to know every character from their point of view. From witnesses, jurors, lawyers, the judge, to the defendant, it was great to see how each of their life experiences impacted the trial. I loved that many of the characters’ backgrounds were intertwined and all came together so clearly in the end. I also loved that it discussed the biases and experiences of jurors which ultimately shaped the verdict in t I couldn’t put this book down! This novel was unlike any others that I’ve read in that we got to know every character from their point of view. From witnesses, jurors, lawyers, the judge, to the defendant, it was great to see how each of their life experiences impacted the trial. I loved that many of the characters’ backgrounds were intertwined and all came together so clearly in the end. I also loved that it discussed the biases and experiences of jurors which ultimately shaped the verdict in this case. It shows how the criminal justice system isn’t perfect and how justice may not always be blind. This was a great read and kept me captivated the entire time with the many twists that were presented! And the ending was perfect! I highly recommend! I can’t wait for the next novel from Robin Peguero!

  28. 4 out of 5

    BookWormBecky

    3.1 The prosecutor Sandy says “ a jury is a crew of misfits (scraps that neither side particularly wanted). You don’t pick a jury— you are left with a jury.” Sandy is the prosecutor in the trial for the murder of Melina Moro. Jordan, assistant public defender, has a plan for how he will save the life of the accused, Gabriel. The story focuses on the life stories of seven jurors, a police detective, and the lawyers involved in the trial. What is the significance of the relationship with Melina’s twi 3.1 The prosecutor Sandy says “ a jury is a crew of misfits (scraps that neither side particularly wanted). You don’t pick a jury— you are left with a jury.” Sandy is the prosecutor in the trial for the murder of Melina Moro. Jordan, assistant public defender, has a plan for how he will save the life of the accused, Gabriel. The story focuses on the life stories of seven jurors, a police detective, and the lawyers involved in the trial. What is the significance of the relationship with Melina’s twin? Melina and Gabriel never met before the night at the bar. Is this true? How does a last minute new witness play an important part in the verdict? * The storyline was interesting. It was confusing at times, because characters were not named, but referred to by juror numbers. * A surprise ending!

  29. 5 out of 5

    Julie Burns

    I was surprised to find I enjoyed this mystery and thought it was very well done. The surprise is because I typically do not enjoy books from multiple p.o.v.'s and this one switched in the middle of chapters without warning. But despite that, I thought this was well written, engaging and kept me guessing through to the end. It starts with the disappearance of a young woman and then the discovery of her body and what follows is the trial of the man charged with her murder. You learn snippets of b I was surprised to find I enjoyed this mystery and thought it was very well done. The surprise is because I typically do not enjoy books from multiple p.o.v.'s and this one switched in the middle of chapters without warning. But despite that, I thought this was well written, engaging and kept me guessing through to the end. It starts with the disappearance of a young woman and then the discovery of her body and what follows is the trial of the man charged with her murder. You learn snippets of backgrounds of each of the jurors, the judge, the attorneys and a couple of the witnesses. You think you know what is going on until you get near to the end for a surprise twist. I enjoyed this very much!

  30. 5 out of 5

    Tim

    I don't normally read courtroom thriller type books. This one was given to me by my brother-in-law. He's never given me a bad recommendation, so I gave it a shot. I really enjoyed it! The case was compelling. The background given on the characters added to my interest. I have seen other reviews that dislike the shifting perspectives. Fantasy is my main genre, so I'm used to shifting perspectives and time. It was easy for me to keep up with the shifts because of this. If you're not similarly accu I don't normally read courtroom thriller type books. This one was given to me by my brother-in-law. He's never given me a bad recommendation, so I gave it a shot. I really enjoyed it! The case was compelling. The background given on the characters added to my interest. I have seen other reviews that dislike the shifting perspectives. Fantasy is my main genre, so I'm used to shifting perspectives and time. It was easy for me to keep up with the shifts because of this. If you're not similarly accustomed to that style of writing, I urge you to take the extra time and attention. It's worth it. I'm left feeling satisfied and I hope to see more from this author.

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