Christina’s Review: Defending Jacob by William Landay

Christina’s Review: Defending Jacob by William LandayDefending Jacob by William Landay
Published by Random House Publishing Group on 2012-01-31
Genres: Fiction, Legal, Psychological, Suspense, Thrillers
Pages: 432
Format: eBook
NAMED ONE OF THE BEST BOOKS OF THE YEAR BY Entertainment Weekly • The Boston Globe • Kansas City Star   “A legal thriller that’s comparable to classics such as Scott Turow’s Presumed Innocent . . . Tragic and shocking, Defending Jacob is sure to generate buzz.”—Associated Press   NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLERAndy Barber has been an assistant district attorney for two decades. He is respected. Admired in the courtroom. Happy at home with the loves of his life, his wife, Laurie, and teenage son, Jacob.Then Andy’s quiet suburb is stunned by a shocking crime: a young boy stabbed to death in a leafy park. And an even greater shock: The accused is Andy’s own son—shy, awkward, mysterious Jacob.Andy believes in Jacob’s innocence. Any parent would. But the pressure mounts. Damning evidence. Doubt. A faltering marriage. The neighbors’ contempt. A murder trial that threatens to obliterate Andy’s family.It is the ultimate test for any parent: How far would you go to protect your child? It is a test of devotion. A test of how well a parent can know a child. For Andy Barber, a man with an iron will and a dark secret, it is a test of guilt and innocence in the deepest sense.How far would you go?Praise for Defending Jacob   “Ingenious . . . Nothing is predictable. All bets are off.”—The New York Times   “Stunning . . . a novel that comes to you out of the blue and manages to keep you reading feverishly until the whole thing is completed.”—The Huffington Post   “Gripping, emotional murder saga . . . The shocking ending will have readers pulling up their bedcovers to ward off the haunting chill.”—People   “The hype is justified. . . . Exceptionally serious, suspenseful, engrossing.”—The Washington Post   “Even with unexpected twists and turns, the two narratives interlock like the teeth of a zipper, building to a tough and unflinching finale. This novel has major motion picture written all over it.”—The Boston Globe   “Yes, this book came out in January. No, we are not done talking about it.”—Entertainment WeeklyBONUS: This edition contains excerpts from William Landay's Mission Flats and The Strangler and a Defending Jacob discussion guide.

I had to put down one book to start Defending Jacob for book club. I was not thrilled because the book I had to put down was A Dance with Dragons, but as I read Defending Jacob I was pleasantly surprised and found myself enjoying the book throughout. The story is about a father who is a DA for a quiet town. A shocking crime takes place in this town and a little boy is dead. As the case is investigated, the evidence present points in the direction of the DA’s son, Jacob. The author, William Landay, tells the story of Jacob’s conviction and trial through the eyes of his father. This allows the reader to connect with the love of a father and his dedication to proving his son’s innocence. How could his teenage boy commit such a horrific crime? Defending Jacob was a fairly suspenseful novel depicting the trial that took the town by storm and the affects it had on a once happy family. I was anxious to get towards the end conclusion to find out what actually happened and how Jacob’s father and the jury would react.

It is shocking how you may think you know a person…but do you really? There were secrets revealed throughout the book that really tests this. How well can you truly know a person and what skeletons will come out of the closet when given the opportunity? I felt the author worked these twists in well and spaced them out throughout the book to keep the reader thinking about what turn of events may take place and how they may affect the case, if at all. For example, I found the genetic component to be new and an interesting topic of conversation in the book. For me, this set the story aside from the usual crime-solving novels. In addition, this story set itself apart from other crime novels because it followed the case of an individual once they were convicted of a crime more than the usual following of the investigation process. It was unique and added a different type of suspense.

I liked the intersecting of the conversation going out between the “Witness” (Jacob’s father) and Neal Logiudice. This conversation was a different type of break between the story Jacob’s father was telling looking back on the past and the present discussion taking place reflecting on it. Later in the story, the witness testimony and cross-examination details were interesting and allowed the reader to experience Jacob’s trial for themselves.

There were a couple of minor details I would have liked to have seen in the book. The first was the addition of a funeral for the little boy found dead. I know this sounds weird, but there was no funeral mentioned. For me, I wanted to see the reactions of the town at this event in comparison to the reactions at the school and other social scenarios. Who attended the funeral… how did they react? However, this detail was overlooked. (Which may have just made the book longer and was not what the author wanted to focus on) Another detail that held me up was in the last chapter, the last few pages. Without revealing too much or leaking any spoilers, the story up to this point was told from the father’s perspective. These last few pages were not… they were details from an event he was not present for. I felt this was unnecessary and would have preferred to finish the story from Jacob’s father’s perspective and no one else’s. This allowed for the imagination to flow and develop its own reaction to the told events.

Overall, Defending Jacob was a quick read. I found the dialogue going back-and-forth throughout allowed the story to flow well and kept the pages turning. I finished the book in less time than I anticipated, and I enjoyed it all the way through. I recommend this book for book club readers especially… I can’t wait for the discussion that will come from this book and the different perspectives I can see people developing from their interpretations of the evidence and dialogues. I also recommend this book for any general reader interested in crime novels. It was a different take to the usual murder-suspects-questioning novels, and it had a number of twists that fit the story well. I enjoyed the author’s writing style and story-line, and I am glad I took the time to read this book.

pj - christina

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