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

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There are currently 32 reader reviews for Defending Jacob
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Power Reviewer Kelli Robinson (11/24/14)

Classic Legal Thriller
In the classic legal thriller tradition of John Grisham or Scott Turow, this book also proved to be an admirable companion to We Need to Talk About Kevin. Thrown in for good measure was some interesting science on behavioral genetics, specifically the gene encoding the neurotransmitter-metabolizing enzyme monoamine oxidase A (MAOA). If the defendant inherited the "murder gene, " could that be a plausible defense to murder? But wait - the defendant didn't do it so why even go there!? William Landay writes from his experience as a prosecutor and crafts a very enjoyable tale that is destined to be on the big screen. The ending was not what I expected but maybe that's a good thing since I thought I had the whole book worked out in my head at about the three-quarters point.
Evalena Reinehr (07/07/14)

Very disappointing ending
Unless the author intends on making this a sequel, it really had no ending. Also, it was so slow throughout the book. There didn't seem to be any resolution, for example what happened to the whacko wife after she killed their son?
All things considered, I think it was not a very good book, and certainly overrated.
yiayiatexas (01/17/14)

Similarities? Deliberate or accidental?
While I always enjoy a good murder/trial mystery, reading this book left me with several questions all along and even at the end. Does anyone besides me see striking similarities in Jacob's character with the character of Dexter in the television series? Is/was there actually a psychiatrist by the name of Elizabeth (?) Vogel who specialized in the study of the "murder gene"? Is Landay associated somehow with the script writers of "Dexter", or did the script writers "borrow" his theme?
Eleanor B. Thrope (09/30/13)

Defending Jacob
When I was a college student in the forties with a major in psychology, the constant argument in that time by the professionals was Nature versus Nurture, heredity versus environment. I was then and still of the opinion that Nature (Heredity) wins out.
The book was fascinating reading and held my interest, so much so that I stayed up very late every night to read it. I usually am in bed by 9:30. It reinforced my opinion that heredity determines ones destiny.
HHS (05/27/13)

Needed more at end from Jacob
Needed more of a solid confession/admission from Jacob (at the end). It was really frustrating to not have that & be guessing based on the narrative alone... Obviously we all know from the animal abuse/torture that he's sick & he probably did it, but we needed more from him at the end....
Power Reviewer Becky H (05/26/12)

Boring beginning and middle
I almost quit reading this book several times, only the glowing reviews kept me going. The first 3/4 of the book had me wondering why anyone would think this whiney, self-serving and self deluded man would be a good ADA. Jacob and Laurie were simply afterthoughts. Only the last 1/4 was interesting and by that time I knew what the ending would be.
If you really, really like psycho babble and navel gazing you might like this book, otherwise skip it.
rob (03/20/12)

overrated
Good concept for a book, however parts that drag out with too much description. Create your own ending, because the one it ends with is fast and disappointing. The murder genre is good writing. Bullying, good topic. Not as good as critics say.
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.

Beyond the Book:
  Courtroom Drama

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