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Defending Jacob: A Novel by William Landay

Defending Jacob: A Novel (original 2012; edition 2012)

by William Landay

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2,1552343,019 (3.92)156
Title:Defending Jacob: A Novel
Authors:William Landay
Info:Delacorte Press (2012), Edition: 1, Hardcover, 432 pages
Collections:Your library, Finished

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Defending Jacob by William Landay (2012)

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» See also 156 mentions

English (238)  Dutch (1)  Spanish (1)  All languages (240)
Showing 1-5 of 238 (next | show all)
Wow. I could have stayed up all night and read this book straight through. I don't believe in reviews that rehash the story rather I prefer to share and hear how it made you feel. In that spirit...I was anxious, shocked, empathetic, floored, saddened, stressed, relieved, suspicious, and blindsided Read the book. Clearly its an avid readers wet dream. ( )
  mootzymom | Jul 2, 2015 |
I found this to be a really good read. It is not often I get a book that I don't want to put down. It was full of twists and turns as one discovers a family in turmoil. A murder case involving an assistant DA's son, and a great suspenseful read. ( )
  griffymom | Jun 30, 2015 |
I found it hard to put this book down, especially during the first half to three-quarters of it. Then I didn't want it to end. It raised some very interesting points about where genetics lie within criminal makeup. ( )
  dtaber2000 | Jun 25, 2015 |
(Audiobook) The quiet suburban town of Newton, Massachusetts is shaken when 14-year-old Ben Rifkin is found stabbed to death in a local park. Assistant district attorney Andy Barber is on the case, until it is revealed that his 14-year-old son Jacob Barber is the main suspect. The book mostly follows the Barber family in crisis mode during the Rifkin case, but the text is also interspersed with Andy's grand jury testimony that takes place six months after Jacob's trial. The context of the grand jury proceedings is a mystery until the end.

The story is told from Andy Barber's point of view. Despite having his name in the title, Jacob Barber is actually the character we know the least about. It was interesting to read the societal and psychological impact of the accusations on the family of the accused. Throughout the book Andy remains steadfast in his belief of his son's innocence and displays extreme loyalty to his son. He refuses to even consider that his young son might be capable of such a horrific crime and goes to great lengths to avoid confronting those thoughts. His wife Laurie is more conflicted, especially after learning about Andy's secret family history. Defending Jacob is a light read, but it asks many serious questions. How well do you know your family? How far would you go to protect your children? What is your moral responsibility to society? Are some people biologically compelled to kill? Are our personalities and actions shaped by genetic predispositions or the environment in which we were raised (nature vs. nurture)? It also made me reflect on the impact of our digital footprint.

The author William Landay was an assistant district attorney in Massachusetts for seven years and his experience really shines through in Andy Barber's voice. It is a fast-paced book. At one point I looked at the clock and 4 hours had gone by like nothing! The last thirty minutes of the book are what really elevated this from "liked" to "really liked." Two major developments happen in the end, one that I assumed would happen and the very last one which shocked me! (And even though everything was obviously already set in stone, I was trying to telepathically communicate with Hope: "NOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!")

Grover Gardner narrated this audiobook. He did such a fantastic job that I will be seeking out more of his work, regardless of author! His voice was perfect for Andy Barber (the bulk of the work) and his voices for the other characters integrated flawlessly.

This book is a page turner and perfect for a rainy Saturday afternoon. If you are someone who can watch Law & Order for 12 hours in a row, I think you will like this book! Some of the themes reminded me of The Dinner by Herman Koch, although it is a different story with completely different parents! ( )
  tbritny | Apr 14, 2015 |
I'm pretty sure I'm one of the last people to read DEFENDING JACOB. It has been recommended to me over and over again and I just rarely find or make time to read books "for fun". When my cousin asked me to read it with her and it was worth the read! We both loved it!

In DEFENDING JACOB, we meet Andy while he is being grilled in front of the Grand Jury. We don't know why he is being questioned, but we do know, based on the title, that it has something to do with his son, Jacob. As Andy takes us through the story, we learn he is the Assistant District Attorney and he was assigned to the case of a teenager who was murdered on his way to school. Laurie, his wife and Jacob, their son, seem to live the idyllic life in the suburbs, until this murder happens. Everyone is on edge and the pressure is on for Andy to find the killer. Until the day he finds out that his son, Jacob, is being charged with the murder of his fellow classmate, Ben. Everything stops for Andy and he makes it his mission to defend Jacob's innocence as his father, in their community and through the court system.

Landay gives the reader plenty to think about while reading and throws in lots of twists and surprises. I never knew what to expect and that kept me reading as fast as I could. Since I have a 14-year-old son, it was hard not to imagine what we would do in this situation. The characters, the community, and the reactions of their friends were all accurately portrayed and relatable. I promise you won't expect the ending.

If you like crime fiction, this is one you should definitely add to your reading list! For just $2.99 on Kindle, it is totally worth the price. ( )
  Staciele | Apr 12, 2015 |
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William Landayprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
Gardner, GroverNarratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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In April 2008, Neal Logiudice finally subpoenaed me to appear before the grand jury.
Here is the dirty little secret: the error rate in criminal verdicts is much higher than anyone imagines. Not just false negatives, the guilty criminals who get off scott-free--those "errors" we recognize and accept. They are the predictable result of stacking the deck in the defendants' favor as we do. The real surprise is the frequency of the false positives, the innocent men found guilty. That error rate we do not acknowledge--do not even think about--because it calls so much into question. The fact is, what we call proof is as fallible as the witnesses who produce it, human beings all. Memories fail, eyewitness identifications are notoriously unreliable, even the best-intentioned cops are subject to failures of judgment and recall. The human element in any system is always prone to error.
A jury verdict is just a guess--a well-intentioned guess, generally, but you simply cannot tell fact from fiction by taking a vote.
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Book description
Andy Barber has been an assistant district attorney in his suburban Massachusetts county for more than twenty years. He is respected in his community, tenacious in the courtroom, and happy at home with his wife, Laurie, and son, Jacob. But when a shocking crime shatters their New England town, Andy is blindsided by what happens next: His fourteen-year-old son is charged with the murder of a fellow student.

Every parental instinct Andy has rallies to protect his boy. Jacob insists that he is innocent, and Andy believes him. Andy must. He’s his father. But as damning facts and shocking revelations surface, as a marriage threatens to crumble and the trial intensifies, as the crisis reveals how little a father knows about his son, Andy will face a trial of his own—between loyalty and justice, between truth and allegation, between a past he’s tried to bury and a future he cannot conceive.

Award-winning author William Landay has written the consummate novel of an embattled family in crisis—a suspenseful, character-driven mystery that is also a spellbinding tale of guilt, betrayal, and the terrifying speed at which our lives can spin out of control.

Haiku summary

Amazon.com Amazon.com Review (ISBN 0385344228, Hardcover)

Amazon Best Books of the Month, February 2012: A fast, compelling, and compulsively readable courtroom drama, Defending Jacob tells the story of a district attorney’s son who is accused of killing a classmate. As the father attempts to prove his son’s innocence, Landay explores uncomfortable territory: can a tendency toward violence be inherited? Is the capacity for murder a genetic disposition? The author, a former district attorney, gets the taut nuances just right, capturing the subtleties of a trial in a packed courtroom, where a small rustle or murmur can signify a lot. In the end Landay pulls off a clever plot device that doesn’t reveal itself until the final pages. --Neal Thompson

Featured Guest Review: Chevy Stevens on Defending Jacob

Chevy Stevens grew up on a ranch on Vancouver Island and still calls the island home. She is the New York Times bestselling author of the novels Still Missing and Never Knowing.

From the first few pages of Defending Jacob, I knew this book was special. More than an exciting courtroom drama that combines the best elements of a legal and psychological thriller, it also delves into the heart of a family, and will rip yours out in the process.

When a young boy is found brutally murdered in the woods in a peaceful New England town, his body hastily covered with leaves, the community is shaken to its core. No one more so than Andy Barber, a well-respected assistant district attorney whose fourteen-year-old son, Jacob, went to school with the boy. Sure, Jacob is a typical moody teenager, hiding in his room all day with his headphones and lap top, but Andy loves him more than anything in this world--and would do anything to protect him.

While Andy's wife, Laurie, struggles with the possibility that there's a killer on the loose and their own son could be next, Andy's determined to find the culprit and bring him to justice. He immerses himself in a maelstrom of angry parents demanding answers, police hell-bent on making an arrest, and the complicated lives of teenagers, with their own secrets, and reasons for keeping them.

When, in a stunning turn of events, Jacob is arrested for the crime, both Andy and Laurie are stalwart in their defense of their son: there's no way their child could've committed this terrible act. As more shocking facts are revealed and lies uncovered, Andy is pushed to the edge and his twenty-year marriage tested. Beautiful Laura, his college sweetheart and love of his life, begins to fade in front of his eyes, crumbling under the pressure of the trial, the public accusations, and the weight of her own doubts--in her son and her husband. When truths about Andy's past comes to surface, he must chose between the life he thought he'd left behind, and the father he wants to be.

Defending Jacob raises the question: how far would you go to protect your family? But it also leaves you wondering if anyone could answer that question, and whether we really know what we're capable of when push comes to shove.

Let's pray we never have to find out.

Featured Guest Review: Phillip Margolin on Defending Jacob

Phillip Margolin has been a Peace Corps Volunteer, a school teacher, and is the author of 15 New York Times bestsellers. He spent a quarter century as a criminal defense attorney during which he handled thirty homicide cases, including twelve death penalty cases, and argued at the United States Supreme Court. He is a co-founder of Chess for Success, a non-profit that uses chess to teach elementary school children study skills. His latest novel, Capitol Murder will be released in April, 2012.

One perk of being a bestselling author is that you are sent advance reading copies (ARCs) of books by first time authors, or published authors whose editors believe have written a breakout novel. The ARC is sent by the writer's editor in hopes that you will write a "blurb," which is a sentence or two praising the book that can be used in advertisements. The books I blurb range from fun reads to very good reads. Then there is the rare book that knocks my socks off. William Landay's Defending Jacob is one of these gems. It is a legal thriller, but so are To Kill a Mocking Bird, Snow Falling on Cedars and Anatomy of a Murder. Defending Jacob, like these classics, separates itself from the pack because it is also a searing work of literary fiction.

At the heart of Landay's exceptional novel is a parent's worst nightmare. Assistant district attorney Andy Barber, his wife, Laurie, and their teenage son, Jacob, are living an idyllic existence in a middle class Massachusetts suburb until one of Jacob's classmates is stabbed to death in the picturesque park where the locals jog, walk their dogs and picnic. It soon becomes clear that Jacob is the prime suspect and the Barbers have to confront the possibility that the child they have doted from birth may be a sociopathic killer.

Andy takes a forced leave of absence from his job and helps defend the son he loves from a charge he cannot believe is true. Is he engaging in self-deception? How far will he go to protect his family? Laurie wonders if something she did as a parent has created a monster and her guilt destroys her. And then there is Jacob. Is he a typical angst filled teenager or a psychopathic monster? Landay skillfully keeps the reader guessing about Jacob's culpability and true nature up to the shocking final chapters.

What makes Defending Jacob special is the way Landay gives the reader the twists, turns and surprises found in the best legal thrillers while making its centerpiece the tragedy faced by a normal family who are thrust into a nightmare.

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:23:14 -0400)

(see all 3 descriptions)

Andy Barber has been an assistant district attorney in his suburban Massachusetts county for more than twenty years. When a shocking crime shatters their New England town, Andy is blindsided by what happens next: his fourteen-year-old son is charged with the murder of a fellow student. As the crisis reveals how little a father knows about his son, Andy will face a trial of his own-- between loyalty and justice, between truth and allegation, between a past he's tried to bury and a future he cannot conceive.… (more)

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