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BookBrowse Reviews Defending Jacob by William Landay

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Defending Jacob

A Novel

by William Landay

Defending Jacob by William Landay X
Defending Jacob by William Landay
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    Readers' Opinion:

  • First Published:
    Jan 2012, 432 pages
    Paperback:
    Feb 2013, 496 pages

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A suspenseful, character-driven mystery about murder, guilt, family, and the ties that bind

The verdict is in: BookBrowse readers think William Landay's Defending Jacob is a hit - 23 out of 24 reviewers rated it 4 or 5 stars! Here's what they have to say:

Many readers enjoyed Landay's fresh writing style:
Defending Jacob is much better than the typical thriller - there are no generic or stock story lines (Susan R). I was pleasantly surprised to find it well-written, smart, and riveting. Defending Jacob touches on the idea of nurture vs. nature, making the reader question if it is possible to escape genetics (Alexandra S). Though it is not difficult to follow the plot or remember the characters... it is definitely not simple. Landay is very careful to ensure continuity in his story. The plot is unusually interesting... the story is clearly articulated and quite unique (Susan R).

And the majority of people found the novel positively thrilling:
There were a few surprises in the end that gave me the goosebumps (Susan R)! Prepare to be hooked from the first pages. Defending Jacob is the best kind of thriller... subtle at first, but then you're along for the ride! As a reader, you can't help but think: could this happen to me and mine? Chilling... and highly recommended (Patricia F). I used to be a lawyer, and there is nothing more irritating than the Perry Mason moments in legal fiction - the surprise witness who confesses on the witness stand. Never happens! Landay portrays all aspects of a legal case, from preparation to the trial itself, realistically, yet he keeps the tension high and the pace quick. A great thriller (Lisa E). I found the last twenty pages to be an unexpected knockout (Jeff M).

Still others thought it was an important, question-provoking read:
Defending Jacob raises complex questions about the relationships between parents and children, between evidence and proof, between nature and nurture, and between truth and justice (Laura P). The questions that arise are utterly compelling. Do we inherit a genetic tendency toward "being bad?" Are we ever capable of seeing what may be the bedrock of true evil in our own children? To what lengths will a parent go in order to protect a child from jail or worse - even when there's a niggling doubt about innocence? I read the book straight through - the characters are well developed, the reader cares about them, and I didn't see, in any way, the end coming. A pleasure to read (Skye L). Is violence genetic? Does it skip generations? Or can it be suppressed and lie latent, waiting for some provocation? Is there such a thing as a "murder gene"? What responsibilities lie with the parents when faced with the accusation that their child may have committed murder? All of these questions come into play in this absorbing, well-written novel (Arden A).

However, a few readers were slow to warm to the story:
There was a story to be told here, but Landay took too long to tell it (Patricia B). I definitely enjoyed this book, although not a home run in my opinion. Mostly because it didn't grab me right away. But I must say, once it started picking up speed I was engaged and enjoyed the twists and turns (Lisa H).

Who should read this book?
I think this is a good vacation read and may be enjoyed by young adults as well (Lisa H). I definitely recommend this novel to friends and think that it is an excellent book club choice - lively discussion is sure to ensue (Elly M).

This review was originally published in The BookBrowse Review in February 2012, and has been updated for the February 2013 edition. Click here to go to this issue.

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