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Defending Jacob: A Novel by William Landay
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Defending Jacob: A Novel (original 2012; edition 2012)

by William Landay

MembersReviewsPopularityAverage ratingMentions
2,3362602,695 (3.9)155
I really thought this book was thought provoking, but was disappointed by the ending. ( )
  magicbearcat | Apr 28, 2012 |
English (264)  Dutch (1)  Spanish (1)  All languages (266)
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Story was compelling although it dragged in numerous points throughout the book.
Read both Kindle and audible through Immersion/Whispersync. Narrator not the greatest but okay.

3.5 - 4 stars ( )
  nospi | Feb 7, 2016 |
There is nothing wrong with how this book is written, but I positively loathed the "resolution". ( )
  lovelypenny | Feb 4, 2016 |
a shocking crime leads to a multilayered tale of loyalty and justice, truth and allegation.
The book takes many turns but the ride is worth it.
This is a good book group choice with a surprising conclusion ( )
  pennsylady | Jan 31, 2016 |
This Book was AWESOME! Highly recommended. In fact, I have it in an Ebook and I am going to purchase it again as either hardcover or paperback to put into my permanent collection...yeah, it's that good.

It is a story about a murder. As told by the Assistant DA. He tells it from the witness stand in the courtroom. And the mystery is that all circumstantial evidence points to his son Jacob. Did he do it? Did he not do it? Does the fact that the Gene for Violence exists within his family have any bearing on this case. I am not going to put any spoilers here because I would rather you pick up this book and read each twist and turn in the story yourself.

Very well written, I and I highly recommend it. ( )
  DVerdecia | Jan 29, 2016 |
I read this because I am trying to read outside of my normal comfort zone and everyone said this was a great story with a surprise ending. I felt it was dull & not worth all the hype. I'm not a fan of legal thrillers still. The ending was not that exciting to me. This is definitely for people who like the legal theme. I cared nothing for the characters nor their struggle. I was glad when it was over. ( )
  Erika.D | Jan 28, 2016 |
I couldn't read this book - practically everything is told thru conversation - a book for people who love to talk and listen to talk. A more reflective book on a similar topic is "We Need to Talk About Kevin" - which chilled me to the core. ( )
  Jeannine504 | Jan 23, 2016 |
I thoujght it was well-written up to a point. I thought some of the names they gave the characters were trite such as "bloody Billy Barber" was just silly. The plot was unique, however I felt cheated somehow. ( )
  Judy_Ryfinski | Jan 20, 2016 |
I thoujght it was well-written up to a point. I thought some of the names they gave the characters were trite such as "bloody Billy Barber" was just silly. The plot was unique, however I felt cheated somehow. ( )
  Judy_Ryfinski | Jan 20, 2016 |
This was such a good book! Family drama and legal questions - very entertaining. ( )
  nljacobs | Jan 19, 2016 |
What would you do if you have an adolescent son who has recently been accused of stabbing a student who bullied him? Would you feel any different if you discovered that your son possesses a genetic flaw known as the "murder gene", a biological propensity toward violence shared by her husband and his father? These are the issues that Laurie Barber and her assistant district attorney husband, Andy, wrestle with when their reclusive son, Jacob, brags about a recent hunting knife purchase with a blade similar to the stab wounds found on the recently deceased class bully. The presence of Jacob's bloodied finger print on the descendant's vest only appears to substantiate his guilt. The author reveals the disintegration of a family as they seek to defend their son albeit with doubts about his innocence. The plot explores the premise of whether our behavior is prescribed our genes or whether the genetics be minimized by a nurturing environment. ( )
  John_Warner | Jan 19, 2016 |
Very good, kept my interest throughout. Some comparisons to Presumed Innocent which are somewhat warranted, but Presumed Innocent is still my favorite by far. I think I like the ending... ( )
  Charlie-Ravioli | Jan 18, 2016 |
A solid story that reads as a courtroom/legal thriller mostly, you get an insight into the procedures and you follow an investigation, arrest and trial. The story starts with Andy, father of Jacob, being questioned in the witness stand. A young boy was found brutally murdered in the woods. It is initially Andy Barber, an assistant district attorney for 22 years, who investigates this murder. Soon it becomes clear that his son Jacob, who knew and went to school with the boy, might be involved. Andy is taken off the case because he might be steering the investigation away from him and protecting him. Although alone in his ideas, Andy is convinced that a paedophile who lives near the murder scene committed the crime. His son could not possibly have done this, he is innocent. On the other hand, the father also agonizes there might exist a murder gene, something hereditary that is passed from one generation to the next. It’s in his family for previous generations. The whole murder gene question is debated. Laurie Barber, Andy’s wife and the boy’s mother acknowledges the possibility that her son could commit murder, she sees evidence in his behaviour since his childhood, where Andy sees it as some robust childhood behaviour, that he has outgrown. Mr. Landay details the way suspicion erodes Andy and Laurie’s marriage. It was an ok read, not really what I expected but it felt a real-life account. The ending was surprising to say the least. ( )
  Ingstje | Jan 18, 2016 |
This book deals with the accusation that Jake Barber, the 14 year old son of the local Assistant District Attorney murdered his middle school classmate. I found the interaction between the parents and son interesting. Did they see see their son the way he really was or how they wanted him to be? How many times do we make excuses for our kids?

I really enjoyed this book and read it at one sitting yesterday. It's very thought provoking and I'm still thinking about it today. I may try another by this author. ( )
  Olivermagnus | Jan 17, 2016 |
Dull, dull, dull. And predictable. How can people find this compulsive? ( )
  traceydunn | Nov 22, 2015 |
This was a reading group choice for me and a very good one. A page turner [ideal for sitting on a boat crusing around the Croation islands], but one which made you think about the issues it raises; mainly the battle between nature and nurture. Told entirely from the viewpoint of Jacob's father, in two time streams, it is very well plotted, with a couple of unexpected twists in the last fifty pages. It is a legal thriller, more in the vein of Scott Turow than John Grisham. I am about to add Landay's previous books to my "to read" shelf! ( )
  johnwbeha | Nov 18, 2015 |
Mi piacciono molto i legal-thriller specialmente quelli dove una buona parte del romanzo è ambientata in tribunale. La storia mi è piaciuta molto e il finale è stato spiazzante. Molto consigliato. ( )
  Angela.Me | Nov 9, 2015 |
Compelling and enjoyable. Plot elements and characters too pat, but, heh! ( )
  jconnell | Oct 5, 2015 |
This story of a family living in the wealthy suburbs will remind you that an accusation of crime is all it takes to destroy everything you believe in. Ande Barber is a normal Dad who works hard and believes in the system. A system that he knows has flaws. When your son is accused the margin of error becomes too real. This page turner will have you on the edge of your seat as you watch this family unravel before they have a hint of a verdict. Suspense and suspicion wrapped up in secrets and lies. This questions all parents integrity, because with our kids we are shameless and likely will do anything to protect them. In Defending Jacob you root for this Father the whole time. In the end you pick your jaw up off the floor because you won't see it coming. ( )
  Nemorn | Sep 19, 2015 |
I thoroughly enjoyed this book. The style of writing was engaging, the characters well developed and the surprise ending - exactly that, a surprise! This courtroom/criminal drama was a great read. ( )
  tinkerbellkk | Sep 8, 2015 |
This book was a page turner for me. I used to read a lot of John Grisham-y type books - but nowadays I only dip into Legal Thrillers once in a while and I really have to be grabbed from page one to spend the time reading one.

I liked this book for a lot of reasons. The plot really moved along at a quick pace, being from Massachusetts I really got a kick out the local setting and I thought the characters were reasonably believable. A few things didn't sit well for me. It didn't make any sense to me that the trial wouldn't have been removed to another venue. Obviously, it was just crazy to imagine that would all go down the way it did.

Anyway, the ending was a bit abupt - but I thought it worked.

Great airplane/pool/beach read. ( )
  alanna1122 | Sep 3, 2015 |
Disturbing but thought provoking. What would you do for your child if he/she had done something really wrong and was likely to do it again? Or what if you believe that he/she had not really done it, even when everyone else is certain that your child is guilty? ( )
1 vote TheresaCIncinnati | Aug 17, 2015 |
This one was a page turner for me...but...I felt as though the ending was rushed. ( )
  PiperUp | Aug 14, 2015 |
I have mixed feelings about this one... ( )
  kimg77 | Jul 30, 2015 |
Another suspenseful novel with a twisty plot. Uses an untrustworthy narrator mixed with transcription of a grand jury testimony. Not too deep and not too shallow. ( )
  joeydag | Jul 23, 2015 |
As with "The Round House: A Novel" by Louise Erdrich, "Defending Jacob" by William Landay is not ordinarily a novel that I would select on my own to read. However, it was a selection choice for me as part of LibraryThing's Secret Santa 2014. I am glad that the novel was brought to my attention.

Written by a former assistant district attorney before turning to writing novels, there is a particular authenticity that is fundamental to the depth of this novel. I believe to give this book a label (e.g. legal thriller) would also be an injustice to the depth of the experience in reading this work.

Perhaps it can all best be explained by the author himself. There is a section in the edition that I read entitled, "A Conversation with William Landay." One of the interviewer's questions is "Does plot come first for you, or character?" The author explains, "They come at the same time." He then goes on to share, "One of the pitfalls of dividing our books into genre novels versus 'literary' novels is that we have come to expect too little character out of the first and too little plot out of the second, leaving both poorer. A good novel needs both, of course, and the two should be wrapped as tight as the strands in a rope."

This novel is without a doubt "wrapped as tight as the strands in a rope." It is the best example of a literary novel that I can think of since reading "The Orchardist" by Amanda Coplin. The novel draws the reader into the lives of one family - Andy, Laurie, and Jacob Barber. The reader will be engrossed into the wide scope of relationships that compose all of their lives from the immediate to extended family relationships, adult friendships, teenage friendships, and dynamics with coworkers to mention a few. The reader will become enmeshed through the emotions as shared steadily through the eyes of the father Andy Barber but not merely as father to Jacob, husband to Laurie, but also as a son, as a man who has an unwavering belief in justice, an wavering love of his child. Within the strands of the rope, within the core of the novel, it presents a question: How far would you go to protect your child? A parent might think they know the answer to this simple question but is it a simple question? How far would you go? It is a dramatic story that is timeless in presentation and I believe will be held as a classic in the years to come.

It is a thoughtful composition that sheds light into areas where many of us are not familiar from family meetings with a criminal defense attorney to the stark spotlight of courtroom procedure to the letter of the law* to the periods of waiting between crime to investigation to trial, and the periods of waiting between the close of court session for the day and the continuation of court session on the following day through the course of a trial.

This is a book not easily picked up to read by all readers but for those readers that enter between the covers of the hardback or paperback or begin clicking the pages on their eReader (e.g. Kindle, Nook), it is an incomparable, thought-provoking experience.

*Definition of "Letter of the Law" as provided by "Black's Law Dictionary Free Online Legal Dictionary", 2nd Ed. "The strict and exact force of the language used in a statute, as distinguished from the spirit, general purpose, and policy of the statute." ( )
  Corduroy7 | Jul 22, 2015 |
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