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Defending Jacob: A Novel | [William Landay]

Defending Jacob: A Novel

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.
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Publisher's Summary

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.

What the Critics Say

“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)

What Members Say

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  •  
    Richard Delman San Francisco 02-11-12
    Richard Delman San Francisco 02-11-12 Member Since 2013

    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.

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    "Brilliant first novel. Very suspenseful."

    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.

    10 of 11 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Taryn Suffern, NY, United States 05-04-12
    Taryn Suffern, NY, United States 05-04-12 Member Since 2006

    Addicted to Audible!

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    "Worth your time and credits"

    I am a fan of courtroom drama and of family relationships. This book combines both and totally engaged me from the beginning. The author kept throwing in interesting twists and turns and I was very suprised by the ending. If you enjoy the early work of Grisham, you will enjoy this!

    19 of 22 people found this review helpful
  •  
    B.J. Minneapolis, MN, United States 01-08-14
    B.J. Minneapolis, MN, United States 01-08-14 Member Since 2010

    I hear voices. But maybe that's because there's always an Audible book in my ear.

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    "Astounding for a first book."

    I hesitated for months to listen to this because I had preconceived notions about the storyline. I thought it would be a formulaic family drama, syrupy or maudlin - the kiss of death for any book in my estimation. My mistake. It is nothing like that.

    This is a brilliantly written, suspenseful novel made all the more impressive by the fact that it's Landay's first book. He makes none of the mistakes with clumsy dialogue that can sometimes plague new writers. He can jump around on the timeline and never lose you. Really, it's masterfully executed and incredibly suspenseful.

    All along the way I was sure I'd figured it out. I thought about it when I wasn't listening and came up with all kinds of "Aha!" moments. I was wrong every time. I just love it when a book can do that to me. Not one of my plotted scenarios was ever right.

    Grover Gardner has a way of narrating that makes you think every single thing he says is the gospel. There's a unique timbre to his voice that's easy to listen to, captivating and very convincing. Though he's not the most dramatic of narrators, he's really perfect for a book like this when the character just needs to tell his story.

    Without a doubt, this book is firmly in the company of other 1st rate legal dramas by Grisham and Turrow. Excellent.

    13 of 15 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Susan Bartonville, TX 04-21-13
    Susan Bartonville, TX 04-21-13 Member Since 2012

    Myst/thrillers and ✨fun fantasies✨are my favorites but always open for a good story.  

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    "Mother of two teen boys"
    Any additional comments?

    Wow, a thought stopper. It is well written and the narrator melted into the book and makes you forget he was there. This is one of those books that makes you pause.... I had an inkling of what was coming because of the way Landay was writing the courtroom scene(s). Brilliant. I have not read one done like that before. He had me leaning in and paying closer attention to those. As a Mom I know what it is to feel complete and utter responsibility for the lives our babes. The story was told by the father and his frustration level was so evident that I felt myself feeling sorry for this prudent and intelligent thinker. This is a good book that has a fast and ever changing plot.

    3 of 3 people found this review helpful
  •  
    karen United States 03-27-13
    karen United States 03-27-13 Member Since 2014
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    "BRAVO!!!! Outstanding!"

    I bought three 'unknown' books at the same time -- books written by authors new to me, writers and books I'd never heard of before or seen, outside of Audible. I listened to the first two, which were only so-so, and I was just about to remind myself to stick to known quantities from now on. All that said, I wasn't expecting much when I started 'Defending Jacob'. But WOW -- this one made up for what the other two lacked.

    It's hard to say much about this book without giving too much away -- I can say that as I was listening, I felt myself getting furious with first the father, then the mother, for the way they saw, and treated, their son. The father was of the "my son can do no wrong" school of thought, which seemed totally ridiculous under the circumstances. The mother allowed herself to be drawn in by some nutty theory of genetic inclination to murder, which -- as described in this situation -- was just as bizarre. But that's the mark of a good book -- I couldn't stop listening. I was so involved with the characters -- we don't actually hear much from Jacob himself -- that I couldn't wait to see what would happen next.

    Nor will I betray anything else about the plot suffice it to say I listened to the ending, couldn't quite believe what I'd heard, so went back and listened to the last hour again. LOL -- great fun! What a book! Way beyond excellent plot, perfect narration, and all in all, one of the best of the year. Don't miss this one.

    3 of 3 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Ted Lancaster, PA, United States 01-07-13
    Ted Lancaster, PA, United States 01-07-13 Member Since 2010

    Don't know what I want to be when I grow up. Trip's cool though. Use Audible to make gym-training sane... And rip my imagination.

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    "As Good A Legal Thriller As Ever Written!"

    First off, I became a Grover Gardener fan from his readings of the wonderful David Rosenfelt/Andy Carpenter series... He is as feeling-perfect as ever here....

    But this book is astonishing. William Landay has plotted and peopled a rare perfect novel. There is not a forced idea.The writer and the reader disappear, leaving only you and Andy Barber's challenge in Defending Jacob. I recommend it without reservation. He shows us distress through the mind of senior Assistant District Attorney Andy Barber - a mind powerfully affected by his fatherly love. It is a tale that thickens like quicksand, sucking you deeper with each swirl and tug... This is a life view that will haunt me... and you.

    Let's make it simple... buy it... download it... experience it... recommend it.

    I'm off to find another of William Landay's work.

    11 of 13 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Chris Reich Northern, CA 12-17-12
    Chris Reich Northern, CA 12-17-12 Member Since 2009

    Business Physicist and Astronomer

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    "Superb!"
    Would you listen to Defending Jacob again? Why?

    Oh yes. The story is riveting and nuanced. There are lots of twists and we have a bit of an unreliable narrator. Brilliant.


    What other book might you compare Defending Jacob to and why?

    Crime and Punishment---While Crime and Punishment is better, of course, this book is loaded with tension.


    Which scene was your favorite?

    Couldn't say. Great book start to finish.


    If you could rename Defending Jacob, what would you call it?

    Stupid question.


    Any additional comments?

    The reader, Grover Gardner is superb---he could be reading his own story. Perfect read.

    3 of 3 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Cris Lake Waccamaw, NC, United States 08-28-12
    Cris Lake Waccamaw, NC, United States 08-28-12 Member Since 2013
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    "Life After the Trial of Your Child--Ugh!"

    If you've ever wondered about the family life of a person accused of murder, this book seems to offer some insights and I could not stop listening. However, the "explanations" seemed a bit contrived. I would have liked to hear more about the aftermath and more about the early life of the child. While the author hints of signs, the parents seem to have been oblivious and that is the part that most interested me. I would have loved this book if the wife's perspective could have been more developed. Even with these complaints, the book is one that I cannot get out of my mind. In fact, I think my next book might have to be a romance novel (just kidding)!

    3 of 3 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Bill Coppell, TX, United States 02-14-12
    Bill Coppell, TX, United States 02-14-12 Member Since 2013
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    "Well written and very good narrator."
    Would you consider the audio edition of Defending Jacob to be better than the print version?

    I did not read the print version.


    What does Grover Gardner bring to the story that you wouldn’t experience if you just read the book?

    The narrator helps me visualize the story better than if I were readin the book.


    3 of 3 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Janet ALBUQUERQUE, NM, United States 02-03-12
    Janet ALBUQUERQUE, NM, United States 02-03-12 Member Since 2009
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    "I was surprised!"

    This was quite an enjoyable listen. I thought this was going to be another book about a kid getting bullied to the breaking point but was surprised to find it more than that. I thought it predictable but surprised that it wasn't.

    It is sad as a parent to find out things about your children that you would just as soon not know. Not just about the child who is bullied but the child who was murdered. Neither parents knew about these sides of their children.

    Grover Gardener read this so well. Loved it! Hated it! But such a good read.

    13 of 16 people found this review helpful
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