Summary and book reviews of Defending Jacob by William Landay

Defending Jacob

A Novel

by William Landay

Defending Jacob
  • Critics' Opinion:

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

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Book Summary

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.

Andy Barber has been an assistant district attorney in his suburban Massachusetts county for more than twenty 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 fourteen-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, 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.

Chapter 1
In the Grand Jury

Mr. Logiudice: State your name, please.
Witness: Andrew Barber.
Mr. Logiudice: What do you do for work, Mr. Barber?
Witness: I was an assistant district attorney in this county for 22 years.
Mr. Logiudice: "Was." What do you do for work now?
Witness: I suppose you'd say I'm unemployed.

In April 2008, Neal Logiudice finally subpoenaed me to appear before the grand jury. By then it was too late. Too late for his case, certainly, but also too late for Logiudice. His reputation was already damaged beyond repair, and his career along with it. A prosecutor can limp along with a damaged reputation for a while, but his colleagues will watch him like wolves and eventually he will be forced out, for the good of the pack. I have seen it many times: an ADA is irreplaceable one day, forgotten the next.

I have always had a soft spot for Neal Logiudice (pronounced la-JOO-dis). He came to the DA's office a dozen years before this...

Please be aware that this discussion guide may contain spoilers!
  1. How would you have handled this situation if you were Andy? Would you make the same choices he made? Where would you differ the most?


  2. Before and during the trial, how would you have handled the situation if you were Laurie? Do you feel she made strong choices as a mother and a wife?


  3. Is Andy a good father? Why or why not?


  4. Do you believe Jacob is guilty?


  5. Is Jacob a product of his upbringing? Do you think he is he a violent person because his environment makes him violent, or do you think he has violent inclinations since birth?


  6. Bullying is such a hot topic in today's media. How did the author incorporate it into the story, and do you think it's role had anything to do with Jacob's disposition? How do you think ...
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Reviews

BookBrowse Review

BookBrowse

The consensus 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:

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).   (Reviewed by BookBrowse First Impression Reviewers).

Full Review Members Only (585 words).

Media Reviews

Kirkus Reviews

Landay does the seemingly impossible by coming up with a new wrinkle in the crowded subgenre of courtroom thrillers.

Publishers Weekly

Starred Review. 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.

Booklist

Starred Review. 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.

Author Blurb New York Times bestselling author Phillip Margolin
A stunning novel that will be compared to classic courtroom thrillers like Presumed Innocent and Anatomy of a Murder.

Author Blurb New York Times bestselling author Nicholas Sparks
William Landay makes bold use of his genuine storytelling gift, his amazing ability to craft believable dialogue, and, above all, his extraordinary understanding of what it means to be a husband and father to present us with an unforgettable tale of an ordinary marriage and family in crisis.

Author Blurb New York Times bestselling author Lisa Gardner
Powerful... leaves you gasping breathlessly at each shocking revelation.

Author Blurb Carla Buckley, author of The Things That Keep Us Here
Landay spins a tale of such complexity and emotion that you don't even realize you're spiraling deep into his world until he spits you out at his shocking, shattering conclusion.

Reader Reviews

Eleanor B. Thrope

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 ...   Read More

Vivian Harrington

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...   Read More

Susan R. (North Arlington, NJ)

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...   Read More

Patricia F. (Stony Brook, New York)

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 ...   Read More

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Beyond the Book

Courtroom Drama

The thrill of watching a trial unfold - the impassioned speeches, quick-witted lawyers, surprise witnesses, the piecing together of clues, not knowing if justice will prevail - it can all make for exciting, and in some cases legendary, storytelling. "Courtroom drama", a subgenre of "legal drama", is a term used to describe dramatic fiction in which legal litigation plays out with suspenseful and climactic courtroom scenes. In modern times, these scenes usually take place in what we recognize as legal courtrooms (hence the name), though in older texts the "courtrooms" might actually have looked like public forums or gatherings.

Though we often associate the genre with television (e.g. Perry Mason or Law and Order) or film (think of Jack...

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