Andy Barber has been an assistant district attorney in his suburban Massachusetts county for more than 20 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 14-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, and 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.
©2012 William Landay (P)2012 Blackstone Audio, Inc.
“Landay has proven himself to be an extraordinary writer, and Defending Jacob is an amazing novel. Do yourself a favor and read it. It’s that good.” (Nicholas Sparks, #1 New York Times best-selling author)
“Harrowing . . . This searing narrative proves the ancient Greek tragedians were right: the worst punishment is not death but living with what you—knowingly or unknowingly—have done.” (Publishers Weekly, starred review)
“[Landay] reaches a new level of excellence with this riveting, knock-your-socks-off legal thriller. With its masterfully crafted characterizations and dialogue, emotional depth, and frightening implications, the novel rivals the best of Scott Turow and John Grisham. Don’t miss it.” (Booklist, starred review)
Despite the reviews, I hesitated downloading "Defending Jacob" because of the subject matter (kid/parent angst, bullies, person-trapped-in-the-legal-system, etc.). It seemed like it would be a predictable plot. I couldn't have been more wrong!
This is one of the best court room drama?family drama? suspense novel? I have read/listened to. The characters were incredibly well developed -- the parents' relationship with their son was almost painful just because it was so believable ("this could have happened to anyone!"). The plot is incredibly intense. I literally sat in a parking lot with my mouth open as the final minutes were read. And the PERFORMANCE!!! A tour de force. The reader did such an unbelievable job that I am actually afraid to recommend the novel to people who might just 'read' it because I felt he added so much (was the novel THIS good in print?). Could not praise this audiobook enough.
(I read Mr. Landay's two previous novels recently -- I saw the great reviews of "Defending Jacob" but, like I said, I was avoiding it because of the plot, so I chose to read his earlier books first. Obviously, the author is mastering his craft. I can't wait for his next novel!)
Author of Stitch Alchemy
Defending Jacob is in some ways a morality tale like "To Kill a Mockingbird." There is a trial and unlike those famous media trials played out in today's news, this one makes it clear that when there is a crime, there is no winner and no loser. There are more shades of gray than black and white. Family relationships complicate all things and our very humanity should make it clear that we all walk a tightrope of right and wrong, good and bad. There is so much to think about that I'm still pondering the insights many weeks after my listen. The author did an outstanding job of creating an engaging, adrenalin packed murder drama that's so much more than the sum of its parts. It's also a tale about how we protect ourselves from the things we are unwilling to accept.
Jacob's father and mother come to their understanding of Jacob's situation each in their own way. They stop to question themselves constantly--which is something parents are prone to do. It's natural. The many layers of their thoughts and emotions were revealed slowly with dawning realizations and stunning realism.
This is a beautifully wrought tale of our relationships with our own children and what responsibility we hold for their frailties, wrapped up in a courtroom thriller. Excellent read!
Defending Jacob is a brilliant story, written very neatly -- no extra words, artifacts or superfluous emotions. I was captivated from start to finish.
The writer portrays the dilemmas faced by the main characters, Andy Barber, and his wife, Laurie. The two have opposing views of how to handle a situation wherein their 14 year old son has been accused of murder. They even have differing recollections on their son as a child and an adolescent despite having lived together since he was born. I found myself wavering back and forth on guilt or innocence depending on the trial evidence and what is revealed by the various characters.
The story is made more complex by the fact that Andy Barber is a prosecutor who has some involvement with the case before his son is charged. The case is taken over by one of Andy's proteges who then views Andy as a nemesis. The interaction between those two is also very interesting because you don't know whether the new prosecutor has a case or is simply trying to defeat someone whom he views as a rival.
This novel is along the lines of "We Need to Talk About Kevin" by Lionel Shriver, also an excellent book, but written in a more thought provoking way. Whereas "Kevin" leads to an obvious conclusion, Defending Jacob keeps you guessing.
This is an exceptionally well crafted novel, with excellent literary qualities, that I wish I hadn't rented. Spending umpteen hours listening in pain to a family emotionally unravel isn't something I choose to do again anytime soon.
I doubt you'll see this one coming--so, the less said the better....
Perhaps the greatest achievement of William Landay in writing Defending Jacob is the fact that he was able to write a suspenseful courtroom/domestic drama that is completely original, and unexpected. I can think of a particular current event from which a similar story could be extrapolated--but to say anything more would be a dirty rotten spoiler--and you deserve all the unexpected twists and pathetic ugly turns this gripping story has to offer.
I wouldn't say Landay has reached the level of polish of fellow lawyers-turned-authors Turow and Grisham with his writing style, but if you are a fan of their books you'll probably find Defending Jacob an engrossing read that can stand on its own among these big boys. The narration is split into the first person narration by Andy Barber, and the reading of the Grand Jury transcripts. Grover Gardner does an animated job of narrating; my only complaint was his voice is a bit gruff and harsh, as is very much of the language (especially during the first person narration), and while I thought it fit "Father O'Leary" and Andy's incarcerated father, I didn't personally care for the tone for most of the book. If you like a gritty courtroom drama--if you can handle the truth--this one might be for you.
I believe a reviewer should finish a book before submitting a review. What do you think?
I loved this book. The narration was really great, the plot kept my interest and it was well written. A small complaint/ is the ending, I just didn't feel like it fit the characters. But regardless it was unanticipated so I give credit for that.
The story was compelling and yes, good book.... well worth the credit
This book had a somewhat interesting plot line and is written in the first person, but it's not a true story. I guess if you are a parent, you can identify with what kind of emotions and problems would occur when your child is accused of a murder. The book is wwaaaayyyyyy too long and tedious in places - particularly in some courtroom exchanges. The questions asked by the attorneys about minute little details regarding knives, etc. that have nothing to do with the story cause you to lose interest - and practically put you to sleep. I found myself saying out loud more than once: "Just move on already!". The book could probably be about 1/2 its length and still tell the story. It wouldn't improve the story line, though, which is just mediocre and - for the most part - mostly unbelievable. I can neither recommend nor not recommend. It depends whether you have 15 hours of your life you don't care if you never get back.
i love mysteries and thrillers. When i review, i tell it like it is. i'm single, and love erotica.
Grover Gardener's stellar reading, nothing like a seasoned expert performer
to kill a mockingbird, the story grabs you by the throat, and won't let go. I felt like I was right in that courtroom.
His performance here was just as good as others. He never disapoints.
a no holds barred, compelling story
I am retired and I love having more time for audio books. I also enjoy hiking, birding, gardening, and genealogy.
While Grover Gardner doesn't have a wide range of voices, he certainly nailed the father's character in this compelling story providing for us a thoroughly convincing narration. This story certainly brings up several very interesting questions, among them whether violence is inherited or environmental and just how far a person will go in believing their child's innocence. This story never lagged and provided a satisfying and believable ending. Highly recommended listen!
Listening to "Defending Jacob" is like watching a train wreck.
You watch with a weird fascination, knowing that what you see is terrible, but unable to pull your gaze away. One bad thing piles onto another bad thing, and you begin to question the truth (as the lawyers, and the author intended). "Jacob" redefines the courtroom thriller. If Grisham were to write a novel that was not formulaic, and was smoldering with emotion and filled with flawed characters (that may or may not be sadistic killers) then this might be it. You will never guess the ending.
Without giving anything away... the DA's son is accused of murder, and as the title of the book suggest, a number of meanings begin to play out. His family is pulled headlong into the muddy fray, and their lives are quickly unraveled with hateful gossip, community backlash, and etc...
Excellent reading by Grover Gardener.
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