Friday, February 10, 2012

Review: Defending Jacbo

Defending Jacob by William Landay

Publication Date: January 31, 2012
Publisher: Random House Publishing
Genre: Mystery, Suspense, Thriller
Pages: Hardcover, 421pp
ISBN-13: 978-0385344227
ISBN: 0385344228

(Received for an honest review from Pump Up Your Book Promotions via Delacorte Press)

Purchase: Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Book Depository, IndieBound

William Landay on the WEB: website, blog, facebook, twitter

Excerpt from Defending Jacob


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 their son, Jacob. But when a shocking crime shatters the 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 instinct Andy has a parent 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.


Before reading Defending Jacob, I had never heard of William Landay or his two previous novels. After reading this book, I can't imagine how I could have missed out on this kind of high caliber writing. Defending Jacob is part courtroom thriller, part mind boggling mystery and very much a story about family dynamics and what makes a person who they are: the family they grow up in or genetics? This is a very intelligent, insightful and chilling novel that readers won't be able to put down.

Andy Barber seemed to have a blessed life. Great job, great friends, the perfect family. But that kind of happiness is often deceptive. In the matter of a few months, everything fell apart. Defending Jacob focuses on the fact that Andy's son is accused of murdering a classmate. A fact that Andy cannot even conceive as being possible. But as the investigation continues Andy finds that maybe he didn't know his son quite as well as he thought he did. As a parent I found the whole concept of your child being so different from what you think they are, extremely unsettling. This book was very emotional and riveting. I couldn't seem to wrap my head around the possibility that Jacob may have committed this heinous crime. The author keeps the reader a little off center throughout the book. I loved that.

The character development alone makes this novel a must read. Readers will see each of the main characters in a different light from the beginning to end of the book, as each one changes so much throughout the story. When we first meet Andy he is self-assured, confident, and completely in control. As the book develops we see that control start to slip more an more as he considers his own past and how it may have affected his son. It's a the whole nature vs. nurture concept lived out in a novel. Very intelligent and very interesting. This is a smart read, with amazing characters.

Jacob isn't quite what we thought he was either. As his real personality starts to surface and readers start to hear what Jacobs friends thought of him and what he was capable of, it's chilling and frightening and keeps those pages turning. Jacob's mom starts to have doubts and completely spirals out of control when she realizes that he could possibly have had something to do with this. Ben was his enemy of sorts, could he have actually hurt him? He did have a knife... 

It's amazing to see how this family completely devolves from where they started. I loved the fact that Landay uses Andy as the narrator. Readers are seeing these events happen from his perspective and he is a very compelling character that will resonate with many readers. I also enjoyed the way that Landay tied everything up in a neat package at the end. Every thread is explored and tied in to the main story. It was really masterfully done and I can't wait to go back and read Landay's other novels. This isn't a book or author that any mainstream mystery or thriller fan can afford to miss. This book is haunting, captivating and gives a close look at a family in crisis. Can unconditional love really know no bounds? Or are there some things that just can't be overlooked?

Defending Jacob is available NOW from your favorite bookseller.

I'm giving this one 5 out of 5 apples from my book bag!

William Landay is the author of The Strangler, a Los Angeles Times Favorite Crime Book of the Year, and Mission Flats, winner of the Creasey Memorial Dagger Award for Best First Crime Novel and a Barry Award nominee. A former district attorney who holds degrees from Yale and Boston College Law, William Landay lives in Boston, where he is at work on his next novel of suspense. 


lag123 said...

I have read many excellent reviews on this book. Thanks for yours. I must add it to my TBR list.

Carol N Wong said...

Great review. I love thrillers written by attorney, maybe it is because they know their stuff!


Cheryl said...

I'm sorry for being so late to come out here and offer my thanks, Deb. I thought I had been here, but I must have gotten distracted.

Thanks for the great review. I'm glad you enjoyed William's latest novel. I was totally captivated by it too.

Wishing you the best,