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)
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!
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!)
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.
Newly retired, I am a reading fiend! I like many types of books, both fiction and non-fiction, with the exception of romance and fantasy
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!
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
Sure, I'd love to hear your story....
As a parent, it is so easy to see how this wonderful novel could happen in real life - - a rare feat for a novel. Careful reading too many reviews - - I got a terrible spoiler as I was deciding about whether to purchase this one, so just let me urge you to buy it. It's a real honest assessment of a family at the nadir of their lives.
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 can't breathe. This one is still keeping me up at nights. I did not see it coming. This is a very well written book with lots of twists and turns, but the ending is shocking. I hoped as I drew near the end of the story that something would happen to cinch it for me as not being predictable. Well, it was not predictable. I just can't decide if that is the very thing I like or dislike about this book. It has been a week since I finished it, and I think I am only now grasping the meaning of the story. It is more fascinating as time goes on. Would I recommend it? Yes, but not to everyone. Only if you can handle the unkindest cuts of all. This is not a happy story with a fairytale ending. But it is intriguing. I think the air is still knocked out of me.
My only complaint about the book was that it was hard to find a truly lovable character. I could sympathize with them, but I just couldn't love them. But I do get that the author wanted them that way for a reason. Yeh, I get it. There are no warm fuzzies here.
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 a 65-year-old psychologist, married for 25 years, with two sons who are 25 and 22. I love reviewing the books and the feedback I get.
Mr. Landay's book is outrageously good. There are lots of ex-lawyers out there who think they can write; they should read "Defending Jacob" so they can see what a great book is. The plot twists and turns in ways that entertain and inform you. The main characters are extremely well drawn. The villain LoGuidice is horrible: nasty, vicious, ambitious, duplicitous. The Barber family is extremely complicated: Andy, Jacob and Laurie are all believable humans. The courtroom scenes are a little drawn out, which is often the case with courtroom scenes. You can forgive this, as these guys spent their careers in courtrooms. The device of interspersing Andy's grand jury testimony, something which clearly occurs at the end of the book, but with which Landay teases you throughout, is one of a kind. I have never seen it used before, and if anyone else ever copies it, Mr. Landay should appreciate the fact that imitation is the highest form of flattery.
Grover Gardner is a perfect reader for this book. His voice is friendly and full of humor, even when the text is serious. His reading of the David Rosenfelt lawyer/dog series is so delightful that you want to read every book in it. Gardner doesn't have as many voices as some of the other more technically proficient narrators, but that hasn't stopped audiobook publishers from recognizing his talent. He is warm, knowledgeable and naturally engaging. You will never guess how the book ends, no matter how clever you are. Landay's insights into the world of eighth graders and their parents is true in every detail. I cannot recommend this book more highly; this is the debut of a marvelous talent.
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