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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.

Critic Reviews

“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

Average Customer Ratings

Overall

  • 4.2 out of 5.0
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Performance

  • 4.3 out of 5.0
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Story

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  • Overall
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  • Story

Disturbing and compelling

This is a plot that could obviously come straight from the newspaper headlines. A teenaged boy is accused of murdering one of his classmates. However, this book is not so much plot-driven as character-driven. When I was about halfway through listening, I remarked to my husband that the book is so disturbing and depressing I was tempted not to finish. But I had to finish, "just in order to find out what happens."

"What happens" is not what I expected. And the author gets us there in a cunningly skillful manner, alternating between a straight chronology of events and excerpts of grand jury testimony which obviously comes further down the road. It is not until near the end that we learn the identity of the defendant before this grand jury.

The narrator is similarly skilled, and I am so very pleased that I chose to listen to this book, rather than read it in print. I'm sure I would have enjoyed it, but listening to a book often makes the listener more aware of the writing quality.

I would definitely recommend the book, despite its dark subject matter.

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  • chang
  • LA CANADA FLINTRIDGE, CA, United States
  • 06-27-13

Well written with clear voice

What did you love best about Defending Jacob?

Well written, and well recorded. I like the story that how parents could love their children blindly.

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  • Kim
  • FRISCO, TEXAS, United States
  • 06-21-13

Worthwhile w/some fun twists

What made the experience of listening to Defending Jacob the most enjoyable?

I think it was the story itself. The subject matter was different than anything I have ever read before & it was very thought provoking. There were many different layers to the difficulties of this family's situation. I especially enjoyed the way people reacted to the family long before the trial had reached its conclusion. Very interesting stuff.

What was one of the most memorable moments of Defending Jacob?

Without a doubt it was the decision making of the various family members. I don't want to be too specific & risk giving away the story, but I loved some of the twists this story took.

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

I think he made the story take on a different life than if I had read it myself. Having said that I have no doubt that I would have had no trouble getting into this book regardless of the medium.

Who was the most memorable character of Defending Jacob and why?

I would have to say Andy, although Lori was a very close 2nd.

Any additional comments?

If you enjoy crime/courtroom dramas you'll love this book. It's a real interesting view into human behavior under the most stressful of predicaments.

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  • Lisa
  • Pottstown, PA, United States
  • 06-07-13

kept you on your toes

Would you recommend this audiobook to a friend? If so, why?

I would reccomend this book, great book club due to some of the topics that can be discussed.

Who was your favorite character and why?

I liked the parents, probably beause I am one and tried putting myself in their shoes.

What about Grover Gardner’s performance did you like?

at first I did not like it but it actually grew on me as the book continued.

Who was the most memorable character of Defending Jacob and why?

the mom! for her courage and most difficult decision ever!!!

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  • Melanie
  • El Paso, TX, United States
  • 05-29-13

fascinating story

Would you listen to Defending Jacob again? Why?

No. Narration doesn't do justice to story.

What did you like best about this story?

A really different perspective in that the accused teen's father is a DA.

What three words best describe Grover Gardner’s performance?

Only one voice.

If you were to make a film of this book, what would be the tag line be?

You think you know your kid?

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  • Miles
  • Cincinnati, OH, USA
  • 05-26-13

average story until the disappointing ending

Would you try another book from William Landay and/or Grover Gardner?

yes

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

his voice is easy to listen to, inflections and intensity are excellent, maintaining different "voices" for each character is only average

Could you see Defending Jacob being made into a movie or a TV series? Who should the stars be?

no

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  • Yvonne
  • Southfield, mi, United States
  • 05-26-13

Family Ties

Parents should love their child but they should realistically KNOW their child. This is one of those stories that is a parent's nightmare. How well do we really know those we love.
This is a story of a loving family, mother, father and son. With the death of a classmate, the family is thrown into a nightmare which changes their lives forever.


Based on the genes we inherit can a child be a "bad seed". Is who we are determined by the behavior of those on our family tree or the environment in which we are raised.
These are questions addressed in this wonderful book.


I could not put it down once I started. Of course I thought I knew what would happen, but I was surprised at the plot twist added by Landay.

I am a vampire, zombie reader every day all day. This was a wonderful change and a genre I will pursue.

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  • Everett
  • CAMARILLO, CA, United States
  • 05-25-13

Interesting family dynamics

Where does Defending Jacob rank among all the audiobooks you’ve listened to so far?

It is probably a top ten.

What was one of the most memorable moments of Defending Jacob?

When the mother decides to take justice into her own hands

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  • K. Gillum
  • Topeka KS, United States
  • 05-25-13

Excellent story, surprise ending

What made the experience of listening to Defending Jacob the most enjoyable?

I really enjoyed that I was never "really" sure until the end. Usually in stories of this nature you pretty much figure it out but that was not the case with "Defending Jacob". At first listening I was a bit put off by the conversational style, it felt a little juvenile until I got into the story farther and you realize the story is being told in court in bits and pieces.

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Thought provoking book

This book was a good story. The beginning of it seemed slow but once it picked up I was sucked in anxious to hear how it ended. As the book reads, I kept thinking about my own sons, wondering how I would feel in the same situation. The book was very thought provoking as you wonder how your marriage would survive, how to support your family. The book has a couple surprise twist that I was not expecting, making me want to keep listening wanting more. I would listen to it again.