Reader reviews and comments on Defending Jacob, plus links to write your own review.

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Defending Jacob

A Novel

by William Landay

Defending Jacob
  • Critics' Opinion:

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

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There are currently 33 reader reviews for Defending Jacob
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Power Reviewer Vivian Harrington (03/18/12)

Is There a Murder Gene?
This book was far more fascinating than I'd expected with a focus on family dynamics and what happens to a seemingly normal middle class family when an only child is charged with murder. I can't imagine anybody reading this story and not wondering if this could happen in his family. How does one react when the community treats the entire family like pariahs? How can both parents look at their child and recall a completely different childhood? Is it possible he is guilty? If yes, what did we do wrong?
Is there something in the genetics which predisposes a child to violence? I really loved this book and eagerly look forward to Landay's next effort.
Lisa H. (Alamo, CA) (11/10/11)

Very Good book
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. At the center of the story is the dilemma in which the parents' love and loyalty is questioned to the utmost. I think this is a good vacation read and may be enjoyed by young adults as well.
Susan R. (North Arlington, NJ) (11/09/11)

Much better than the typical thriller. Not generic or stock story lines.
I haven't been able to get through any book for at least 6 months - it's been a real dry spell, but when I saw this book on the Book Browse web site, I was immediately attracted by it and requested a copy. I'm glad I did - it's the first book I have finished in a long time. I've put down Oprah bestsellers half to two-thirds of the way through, but not this book. It is well written, not difficult to follow the plot or remember the characters (which is sometimes a problem when the author chooses to give everyone a name starting with the same letter). Don't misunderstand, it is definitely not simple. Mr. Landay is very careful to ensure continuity in his story. The plot is unusually interesting with no confusing parts (I didn't have to flip back and forth to figure things out). The story is clearly articulated and quite unique in my opinion. I liked the characters, especially Andy. My only request of the author would be to develop Laurie and Jacob's personalities an ounce more. The book was never boring, and there were a few surprises in the end which gave me the goosebumps. I am not generally a fan of legal thrillers or murder mysteries or courtroom drama, but this book was quite excellent and has every potential to be a best seller!! I'm not a librarian or book store owner. I am a nurse not too far from retirement (I hope) and was simply looking for a good read and it was! Enjoy!
Patricia F. (Stony Brook, New York) (10/26/11)

Defending Jacob...Be Afraid....
Prepare to be hooked from the first pages! Defending Jacob is the best kind of thriller..subtle at first, but then you are along for the ride! A seemingly traditional, ordinary family living their lives and then exposed by a series of events unfolding transforming this "ordinary" family into one exposed through the media and the judicial process. The fright comes from the impact on this "ordinary" family. As a reader, you can't help but think..could this happen to me and mine? Chilling...and highly recommended.
Lisa E. (Cincinnati, OH) (10/26/11)

Realistic but Engaging
William Landay, the author of this legal thriller about the son of a prosecutor who is charged with murder is a former prosecutor himself, and this comes through in his portrayal of the courtroom. 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.
Sandy P. (Gainesville, FL) (10/26/11)

Well worth the time
This book differed from others (i.e. The Hour I First Believed) in that it brought to light the danger of rumors on social media and the damage they can cause....right into the courtroom. Just when I was beginning to think the plot would dissolve Mr. Landay brought in a few twists to keep interest going, i.e. Who the heck of Father Leary and where did he come from?? I thought the final pages were riveting, sad and yet tied up all loose ends for me. I'll look for Mr. Landay's earlier works.
Dawn Zuber (Canton, MI) (10/26/11)

Defending Jacob - excellent read!
Defending Jacob alternates between first person accounts from the point of view of Andy Barber, former assistant D.A., and the transcript of Andy’s grand jury testimony regarding – well, we’re not sure what the grand jury is investigating until the end of the book. Andy tells the story of defending his son, fourteen-year-old Jacob, who is accused of murdering a classmate.

I found it hard to put this book down. Despite being a thriller, it explores family connections, loyalty, and truth. I plan to read it a second time, which, for me, is a very rare reaction to a book.
Alexandra S. (Chicago, IL) (10/24/11)

Surprisingly Good Read!
I'm not normally a crime drama reader and because of that, I thought reading and reviewing Defending Jacob was a good way for me to step outside of my wheelhouse. I was convinced this was going to be a run of the mill thriller but I was pleasantly surprised to find it well written, smart and riveting.

Defending Jacob dances around the ideas of nature vs. nurture, making the reader question if it is possible to escape genetics.

Initially slow moving, the story is told though the eyes of Andy Barber, Assistant DA, son of a murderer and father of the accused. Told though a combination of court transcripts and Andy's voice, you learn the extent to which a parent would go to protect their child and how blinded we can be by love.

A fast and enjoyable read, Defending Jacob will make you question everything you thought you knew about the people you love.

Beyond the Book:
  Courtroom Drama

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