It has been YEARS since a book has had a twist that I didn t see coming Well played William Landay, I would never have imagined the ending of this book I will definitely have a book hangover from this one I can t start a new book because I can t get this one out of my head The boy had been stabbed three times in the chest One strike punctured the heart and would by itself have been fatal The knife was driven straight in and jerked straight out again, one two three, like a bayonet The weapon had a jagged edge, evidenced by shredding at the left edge of each wound and in the torn shirt fabric The angle of entry suggested an attacker aboutfive foot ten or so, although the sloping ground in the park made this projection unreliable The weapon had not been found There were no defensive wounds the victim s arms and hands were unmarked William Landay, Defending Jacob Some time ago, I was standing in CVS Pharmacy getting a prescription for my daughter s 10,000th earache 10,000 being a rough approximation While I waited for the amoxicillin to be filled, I wandered over to the magazine rack to do some browsing I instantly noticed something The magazine book rack sure has changed since I worked in a pharmacy in high school Most of the magazines had motorcycles or abdomens on them Most of the books had abdomens and corsets There was very little to interest me, and much to make me self conscious about my stomach In this mass of printed trash, William Landay s Defending Jacob leapt out at me Not because it looked awesome, but mainly because it didn t look terrible and there were no heaving bosoms on the cover It s been twenty years since I passed through my legal thriller phase Grisham, Turrow, Diehl , and I really had no intention of recapturing that passing romance But the pharmacy was slow, and it was either read Defending Jacob or compare Pedialyte flavors Defending Jacob is a great impulse purchase book It belongs on newsstands or at airports or in dithering pharmacies That s because it has a premium hook a prosecutor s son has been charged in the brutal murder of a classmate The prosecutor must leave his job and join in the defense This is the kind of high concept plot that can be boiled down to a gripping tagline Andy Barber used to put criminals in prison Now he has to keep his son out of one That tagline is best read in a deeply baritone inner voice Defending Jacob is told in the first person by Andy Barber, an experienced assistant district attorney in suburban Massachusetts His son, fourteen year old Jacob is the one accused of stabbing a classmate to death and leaving his body in a park The twist in the storytelling structure is that it opens at some point in the future after Jacob s trial has been resolved Of course, the result of that trial is artfully hidden by the narrator, which is why I despise the first person p.o.v as a cheat In the first paragraph, Andy reveals that he is under grand jury investigation by his old office This sets up parallel mysteries First, is Jacob innocent Second, why is Andy in front of the grand jury I am bound to respect how quickly Landay sucked me in with this trick One second I was waiting for amoxicillin the next, I m at the counter with a mass market paperback in one hand, and a bottle of Yellow Tail in the other Because waiting makes me thirsty It s been almost twenty years since I closed the cover of Grisham s The Runaway Jury and ended my brief affair with the legal thriller As I plunged into Defending Jacob, I wondered slash worried about what tropes to expect Vast conspiracies Legal maneuvering that s not allowed in actual courtrooms An epic closing statement that gets the jury to decide with you, despite the overwhelming evidence of your client s guilt To Landay s credit, Defending Jacob hason its mind that surprise witnesses and eleventh hour twists Two thirds of the book is spent outside the courtroom, much of it focused on the Barber family dynamics, as Andy tries to understand the most un understandable creature on earth a sullen teenager There is an extended subplot dealing with Andy s own family history, which leads to a philosophy lite discussion over nature verses nurture and determinism verses free will The content of this subplot is far from profound, but I appreciate the fact that the novel hasgoing on than meets the eye As a criminal defense attorney myself, I also appreciated Landay s faithful rendering of the legal process Landay is a former district attorney, just like his main character The author bio does not indicate whether his own son is an accused murderer With a few exceptions, Jacob s criminal trial unfolds like a real life criminal trial Andy Barber hires an actual defense attorney to defend Jacob though he acts as second chair The attorneys make proper objections The judge adheres to the rules of evidence Jacob s trial like most real trials is not explosive It is not shocking There is no bombshell witness that one side or the other wasn t aware of, because in real life, there is the discovery process and witness lists and the fact that the whole system is designed rather imperfectly, of course to avoid unfair surprises Most of the drama comes from the secondary impact of the trial on the Barber family Defending Jacob is reallythe portrait of a family under extreme duress than anything else Andy is hell bent on defending his son and is maniacally convinced that another suspect is the actual killer His wife, Laurie, veers wildly from maternal protectiveness to horrified wariness that her son might actually have committed the crime Jacob well, Jacob is mostly a cipher None of Landay s characters, including Andy, are fully formed, but Jacob gets the least attention This is necessary to built tension, and also because teenagers are inherently uninteresting and not worth thinking about Despite a rather forgettable dramatis personae, Landay does a good job detailing the toll that Jacob s legal predicament both the buildup and the trial itself has on the Barber family Probably the book s most powerful scene is set in a grocery store, when the Barbers find themselves one aisle over from the family of the murdered schoolboy This isn t a novel that is going to wow you with ornate prose or acute character observations The writing through Andy s narration is conversational At its best, it is propulsive storytelling that keeps you up at night saying just onepage The dialogue is forgettable, either courtroom legalese or melodramatic family interactions As I mentioned previously, Defending Jacob tries to tackle some ambitious themes But when it comes down to it, the novel lives and dies on its story mechanics Landay came up with a great idea everything else comes down to execution With this kind of book, if you stick the landing, it makes up for all other sins Defending Jacob is similar to all other legal potboilers in that we are led through a series of twists and turns to the surprise ending In this book, due to its parallel storylines Jacob s trial and the grand jury of Andy , you get two twists for the price of one Typically, I m not the type of reader who enjoys these kinds of books the ones that rely on a kicker This may be because I am terrible at guessing the ending of things, so no matter what, I m usually surprised, even if I m not supposed to be What I really liked about Defending Jacob is not the deviousness of the plot swerves Rather, it was that Landay manages in the final few pages a climax that is not only surprising, but surprisingly powerful It s a conclusion that lifts Defending Jacob into a different plane It s not a great novel But it s not just a decent legal thriller either It s somewhere in the middle, which is pretty good for a mass market impulse buy at CVS, purchased while wearing sweatpants on a Tuesday night five minutes before the pharmacy closes. I ve always had a weakness for these mystery crime thrillers you know, the dragon tattoos and angels demons of the world I suppose I should be a little embarrassed by this but I m not They are my peanut butter and fluff Defending Jacob is some of the best fluff I ve ever tasted It is written by a former assistant district attorney from Massachusetts with a real knack for this type of storytelling Jacob is perfectly paced with a tugging suspense that doesn t abate until the final sentence And it s rife with all this legal mumbo jumbo so sometimes you forget it s just fluff don t worry, though, it will remind you By the end, my adrenaline levels were so high I needed to borrow my Mom s blood pressure pills.If you don t want spoilers, you should probably stop reading now because I can only avoid them for so long The thing I love about this book is its delve into the personal The assistant DA s teenage son is implicated in the murder of his classmate and so even though this is at some level a legal drama, it is also a family drama To switch roles from lead prosecutor to paternal protectorate is obviously necessary for the ADA, but it does nothing to curb the tide of repercussions for him, his family, and the case I was also riveted by my own fluctuation between empathy for a boy unjustly dealing with a murder rap and revulsion for him as doubts of his innocence grew.Also, this book has wicked cool courtroom scenes.Although the novel s present occurs mostly during the aftermath of the murder and the murder trial itself, the story is interwoven with witness testimony from a grand jury trial that occurs six months later which must clearly be unrelated to the events of the current murder trial, right This seemingly unrelated testimony adds to the suspense of the book and its relevance is not revealed until the final chapter And if you want to know what that relevance is, it turns out to be this view spoiler hide spoiler This is as much a nuanced family drama, love story, and social inquisition as it is a murder courtroom legal thriller If you can get past a few contrived plot points this is where readers will divide , and engage with the narrator, whose reliability or unreliability is a puzzle to piece together, you will be satisfied with this warm yet dark story of a community and family unhinged by a violent crime The author is a former DA who is skilled at informing the reader about the law and procedure without telegraphing it The narrative is even, polished, and intelligently observant of a community in shock, a family shattered.I have relatives in Newton, Massachusetts, where this thriller takes place It is an upscale community of educated professionals, whose children graduate from tony high schools and go on to Ivy League colleges A fourteen year old boy stabbed to death in the park is incomprehensible to this insulated and well heeled population As prosperous as it is, there is also a provincial air to it, as like minded families have always experienced security and safety here, and there is an expectation and history of benevolence Violence is rare.Jacob, the fourteen year old son of First District Attorney Andy Barber, is accused of murdering his classmate, Ben Rifkin In Massachusetts, fourteen year olds charged with first degree murder are tried as adults Barber narrates the story with depth and dread, exposing some family secrets along the way, which could impact the case, and creates increasing internal trauma for his wife, Laurie Their marriage has always been an ongoing love story they met as freshmen in college and have loved each other unfailingly through the years This event mires them in vulnerability and heavy exposure to the media, placing them under a public microscope Do they really know their son How much can parents really get inside the soul of their children And, no matter how strong a marriage seems, a blow like this can undermine what is truly a fragile trust.Landay has a talent for metaphor and imagery, rendered beautifully in the elegiac narrative Woven through the story, in the old school typed transcript of a court reporter, is yet another narrative, of Barber as a witness before the grand jury How this fits into the rest of the story is gradually disclosed, and its presence is both suspenseful and revealing Landay s dialogue is crisply cinematic but organic to the characters His flair for teen speak is spot on.Jacob, who is largely inscrutable, is developed through the eyes of other characters and at a slight remove, which adds to the suspense Is he a cipher A typical teenager The unknown X factor of Jacob draws out the detective spirit of the reader The character that really blossoms on the pages is Andy, who reveals, through his agony,than his contained self assessment He is a tormented man trying to protect his family, but his tenacity and inexorable faith in his son may have dire consequences.I read this book in two long sittings, and savored every page Critically, it is probably a four star for its flaws , but personally, I greedily devoured every passage, removing my critical cap and capitulating to the subtle narrative. I m trying to put my finger on what makes Defending Jacob such a compulsive read Landay clearly has a killer storytelling instinct The pacing of this novel is near perfect He drops just enough clues, teases with just enough foreshadowing to keep the reader completely engrossed at all times I started listening to this as an audiobook and finished it in print, not being able to turn the pages fast enough Defending Jacob is not a unique plot by any stretch In fact, when I first heard about this book I couldn t help but think of the movie Before and After starring Meryl Streep and Liam Neeson, where their teen son Jacob yep, he s Jacob too is accused of murdering his girlfriend and it tears the family apart This book is much better than that movie though Defending Jacob does a great job at looking at issues of guilt, innocence and culpability It dissects the shortcomings of the legal system and the theatrics of courtroom proceedings without getting all preachy and legal mumbo jumbo about it It cuts to the heart of family dynamics and the parent child relationship, poking at the difficult questions how far would you go to protect your child if they were innocent guilty And there s the rub fourteen year old Jacob is standing trial for murder and we don t know if he s been falsely accused or not There are things that point to his innocence, but also actions that point to his guilt Even though it is a much denser read and told using a very different narrative voice, We Need to Talk About Kevin explores some of the same terrain of mental pathology and the genetic and external factors that combine to result in antisocial behaviors For anyone who isn t sick of arguing the nature nurture debate, Defending Jacob raises some interesting questions concerning the existence of a murder gene and whether violence can be passed down through the generations like eye color I liked that this book kept me guessing right up to the end I loved that when it seemed to be wrapping up, there was onesharp swerve to the left to come. I m annoyed As I said in one of my updates, this is an odd book, a psychological thriller with little understanding of psychology It s written in the first person from the father s point of view He was very annoying with his stubborn blocking of the truth from himself to his unemotional narration If the author meant to convey a kind of underlying emotional tension, he failed miserably The ending felt like a cheap shot, and I feel cheated. Depuis Vingt Ans, Andrew Barber Est Procureur Adjoint Du Comt De Massachusetts Admir Par Ses Pairs Pour Sa Combativit Au Tribunal, Respect De La Communaut , Il Est Aussi Un P Re De Famille Heureux, Veillant Sur Sa Femme Laurie Et Leur Fils Jacob Quand Un Crime Atroce Secoue La Qui Tude De Sa Petite Ville, C Est La Foudre Qui S Abat Sur Lui Son Fils DeAns Est Accus Du Meurtre D Un Camarade De Classe Andrew Ne Peut Croire La Culpabilit De Jacob Et Va Tout Mettre En Oeuvre Pour Prouver Son Innocence Mais Mesure Que Les Indices Charge S Accumulent Et Que Le Proc S Approche, Certaines R V Lations Surgies Du Pass S Ment Le Doute Et Menacent De D Truire Son Mariage, Sa R Putation Et Sa Foi En La Justice Le Dos Au Mur, Andrew Devra Faire Face Au Pire Dilemme De Sa Vie Choisir Entre La Loyaut Et La V Rit Pour D Fendre Cet Adolescent Qu Il Conna T Si Mal Defending Jacob was a riveting and very enjoyable thriller one that will send chills up your spine My second read of this novel as just as compelling and unsettling as the first A son accused of Murder and a family on trial Andy Barbers job is to put killers behind bars and when a boy from his son Jacob s school is found murdered Andy is under pressure to find his killer and prosecute.When a crucial piece of evidence turns up linking Jacob to the murder the Barbers lives are turned upside down This is every parent s worst nightmare and Andy and Laurie will do anything to defend their child but while doing so learn that Jacob has his secrets.This is exactly the sort of Novel I normally stay away from as as having a teenager I sometimes scare away from books like this as feel they make me overthink and thats not a good thing in some cases but this was a group read and therefore I joined in and I loved the book I loved the suspensful and twisty plot and I was captivated by authors style of writing, all the complex characters are cleverly and convincingly drawn A terrific courtroom drama full of suspense and drama.I am normally tight with my 5 stars but this book really made me sit up and think, exclaim out loud and once finished just couldnt put the story out of my head Second time around the book was just as good as its been a few years since I read it and happy to say still a 5 star read for me. I have had Defending Jacob on my TBR list for awhile and have been waiting for the right time to read it This was the perfect time I love when that happens.I found Defending Jacob to be an original, gripping, complex, and an interesting crime thriller as well as emotional and a thought provoking family drama What made this an interesting read for me was the combination of the legal side of the crime, the courtroom drama and the emotional family drama of a family in crisis after their son Jacob is accused of a violent crime The story is told from devoted, tormented and intelligent former first District Attorney Andy and father to Jacob who fights to save his son, who is after the truth but terrified of it and blinded by his unconditional love for his son The drama intensifies as Jacob s parents Andy and Laurie contrast each other with Andy s determination who can see no wrong from his son and Laurie s doubts, quilt, and willingness to see her son for what he could be What a stunning, shocking and unforgettable ending that left me stunned for a moment, I almost dropped my book Defending Jacob had me asking myself so many questions and I was stunned at the same time I highly recommend for crime thrillers who like some family drama and for parents who love to be challenged with parenting questions.http www.twogirlslostinacouleereadi This book went through my newsfeed once, a really long time ago, and ever since then I have been wanting to read it When I saw it at my library I snatched it up right away This book did not disappoint What the book was about The book is told from the father s point of view, Andy Barber He was an assistant district attorney that people loved and adored He and his wife, Laurie, had an amazing relationship and one child, Jacob Who was a teenager.All of a sudden, there quiet, peaceful city had a stabbing to death of a young boy Jacob was accused of the murder and his father believes he was innocent.This book covered all aspects of the Jacob being possibly convicted evidences, doubts, best friends going against you and so muchThis book kept me on my toes till the very end There were tons of twists, new information, etc I highly suggest this to anyone that likes mysteries and or books with twists.
William Landay is the author of the New York Times bestseller Defending Jacob Previous novels include Mission Flats, winner of the Dagger Award for best debut crime novel, and The Strangler, which was an L.A Times favorite crime novel and nominated for the Strand Magazine Critics Award as best crime novel of the year.
- 445 pages
- Defending Jacob
- William Landay
- 02 February 2019 William Landay