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)
My wife suggested this book for a road trip from Boston to Denver. It’s a great story and very well read. My daughter and I were riveted during the reading/listening sessions and couldn't wait to get back in the car to pick up where we left off the night before. It made driving I-80 through Iowa and Nebraska even better. (Even the 7 month old Golden pup/passenger was entranced!)
So Many Books, So Little Time
This is one of the most disturbing books I have read in a long time. Told from the perspective of Jacob Barber's father, a successful attorney, it shifts back and forth in time between an inquest in which Andy, the father, is being questioned and the book's main narrative. The writing is good and, though it did seem a bit over-wrought in places, I never lost interest.
When a fourteen year old boy is found knifed to death in a nearby park suspicion falls on Andy Barber's 14 year old son, Jacob, a classmate of the dead boy. The narrative is mostly about the trial and the revelations that begin to unfold about the problems within this family and the secrets Andy has kept all his life about his family history, including his father who is serving a life-sentence for murder.
Slowly we begin to realize this family has a LOT of secrets. Jacob was bullied in school by the dead boy. Jacob has some very disturbing behaviors of his own. Laurie, Jacob's mother, is shocked when she finds out about her husband's secrets and is unable to reconcile these revelations and their implications for her own son. When a psychiatrist adds some frightening (and I thought specious) opinions about Jacob's behavior, Andy overlooks them but Laurie becomes obsessed with them.
This is an extremely complex story and the ending is quite disturbing. I'm not really sure how I felt about it. I admired Andy's ability to trust in his son and I found Laurie's inability to do that quite upsetting. This is not a book one soon forgets -- and that makes it a better than average read.
The narration was quite good. Since I live in the Boston area, I especially appreciated the narrator's ability to handle the local accents.
suspenseful, thought provoking
The ending made me think. I wondered what I would do in a similar situation.
The story, and the realistic ending
The 2 different viewpoints of the parents. Even though this was read from the point of the father, the story did a great job capturing how the mother felt, without ever hearing anything directly from her.
I have recommended this book to several friends, who like me, are teachers to 8th grade boys...an age so misunderstood, but well understood and portrayed by this author.
The end....very sad, though foreshadowing throughout led me to other conclusions.
Many scenes in courtroom where public defender and Andy Barber spar. Stellar narration/reader for this book!
Perfect title though it misled me for entire story.
Among my favorites. Abdorbing.
Abdorbing. A must read f or any parent.
Author keeps reader focused on story line.
Great combination of legal thriller and human emotion. Keeps you on the edge of your chair with the direction of the story changing constantly.
While some of the story was predictable, other key elements were not
His reading was excellent. He got the feeling of the characters out.
The end. Don't want to give it away.
Thought-provoking, entrancing, surprising
I loved how the story turned and twisted a bit and how the author spoke directly to the reader at times.
Really great book! I'm glad I took the advice of other Audible members and gave it a shot.
I would recommend this book to anybody who likes a good story twist. I actually said "What?" out loud when the narrator finished the "plot twist sentence". It was a great sentence by the way. Thanks to the author and narrator for making my long, traffic snarled commutes to work enjoyable.
former nuclear scientist
First, the performance.
I didn't like it too much. The man sounds like he is performing in a movie in 1943 - you know how they spoke so quickly, the sentences tumbling over each other. He can't do women, but few of the narrators can effectively do the other gender. He can't really do other voices for men, either. Luckily for him, most of the book is narration, internal musings, or a transcript, so you know who's talking. Maybe that's why it sounds so much like a screenplay; you get scenes like:
LaJudas: blah blah incompetent blah
Witness: blah blah blah, so there!
(internal reflection on the situation)
The story itself is fairly riveting: a teen is murdered, and his classmate is charged with the crime. The narrator is the accused's father, so he is fairly biased - even internally. He is a DA, so this is sort of a hybrid crime mystery/courtroom drama. He tries to unravel the situation, learning little other than how out of touch most parents are with their children.
The structure of the story is classic, switching among courtroom scenes, reminisces, and sleuthing. It's easy to follow along, even when listening, as the narrator uncovers clues and then interprets them one way (being the father) as others occasionally intrude to interpret them differently, and the listener is left to make his or her own choice about who has the better argument. The mystery, did Jacob do it? is riveting, and the ending has a surprising twist.
If I liked courtroom and crime mystery novels more, I'd overlook the annoying narrator. But since it's not really my thing, I give it three stars even though I recognize that "Defending Jacob" is a pretty good example of the genre.
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