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Defending Jacob

3.96  ·  Rating Details ·  182,304 Ratings  ·  17,062 Reviews
Andy Barber has been an assistant district attorney for two decades. He is respected. Admired in the courtroom. Happy at home with the loves of his life, his wife, Laurie, and teenage son, Jacob.

Then Andy’s quiet suburb is stunned by a shocking crime: a young boy stabbed to death in a leafy park. And an even greater shock: The accused is Andy’s own son—shy, awkward, myster
Hardcover, 421 pages
Published January 31st 2012 by Delacorte Press
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Laurel Phelan
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Tammy I really liked it. I think it had all the positives of your standard murder mystery (an exciting story that keeps the reader engaged and guessing) but…moreI really liked it. I think it had all the positives of your standard murder mystery (an exciting story that keeps the reader engaged and guessing) but also some unique twists. For example, the trial within a trial format and the look at what its like to be the family of the accused. (less)

Community Reviews

(showing 1-30)
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Jan 07, 2014 Lisa rated it it was ok
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Jan 29, 2015 Jason rated it really liked it
Shelves: for-kindle, 2012, reviewed
I’ve always had a weakness for these mystery/crime thrillers—you know, the dragon tattoos and angels & demons of the world? I suppose I should be a little embarrassed by this but I’m not. They are my peanut butter and fluff.

Defending Jacob is some of the best fluff I’ve ever tasted. It is written by a former assistant district attorney from Massachusetts with a real knack for this type of storytelling—Jacob is perfectly paced with a tugging suspense that doesn’t abate until the final sentenc
switterbug (Betsey)
Dec 30, 2011 switterbug (Betsey) rated it it was amazing
This is as much a nuanced family drama, love story, and social inquisition as it is a murder/courtroom/legal thriller. If you can get past a few contrived plot points (this is where readers will divide), and engage with the narrator, whose reliability or unreliability is a puzzle to piece together, you will be satisfied with this warm yet dark story of a community and family unhinged by a violent crime. The author is a former DA who is skilled at informing the reader about the law and procedure ...more
Jul 31, 2012 Jill rated it it was amazing
It has been YEARS since a book has had a twist that I didn't see coming. Well played William Landay, I would never have imagined the ending of this book. I will definitely have a "book hangover" from this one. I can't start a new book because I can't get this one out of my head!
Jan 09, 2014 Sandra rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: audio, mystery
I'm annoyed. As I said in one of my updates, this is an odd book, a psychological thriller with little understanding of psychology. It's written in the first person from the father's point of view. He was very annoying with his stubborn blocking of the truth from himself to his unemotional narration. If the author meant to convey a kind of underlying emotional tension, he failed miserably. The ending felt like a cheap shot, and I feel cheated.

I'm trying to put my finger on what makes Defending Jacob such a compulsive read. Landay clearly has a killer storytelling instinct. The pacing of this novel is near perfect. He drops just enough clues, teases with just enough foreshadowing to keep the reader completely engrossed at all times. I started listening to this as an audiobook and finished it in print, not being able to turn the pages fast enough.

Defending Jacob is not a unique plot by any stretch. In fact, when I first heard about th
Apr 26, 2016 Matt rated it really liked it
Some time ago, I was standing in CVS Pharmacy getting a prescription for my daughter’s 10,000th earache (10,000 being a rough approximation). While I waited for the amoxicillin to be filled, I wandered over to the magazine rack to do some browsing. I instantly noticed something. The magazine/book rack sure has changed since I worked in a pharmacy in high school. Most of the magazines had motorcycles or abdomens on them. Most of the books had abdomens and corsets. There was very little to ...more
May 09, 2014 Robert rated it really liked it
Shelves: robert-s-reads
I hated Jacob and would have preferred to rub his cocksure attitude into the sand, knock him over the head with a shovel, and then bury him with said object about six feet under. He’s more emotionless void than passionate Picasso, and he feels absolutely no responsibility for his actions. That’s your typical teenager, at least on the latter, but not having a heart is not exactly what I strive toward every day of my life. And yet I ended up completely immersed in legalese and legal suspense.

5 brilliant and heartbreaking stars :-(

This story isn't about proving Jacob is innocent or guilty. At least I didn't think so. For me this story was about fathers unconditional love for his son, no matter the outcome.

Andy Barber is a 51 year old DA. Has a wife who is a teacher and a 14 year old son, Jacob. Perfect little family. They are well known and respected in their community.
One day, he gets a call that a 14 year old boy has been found murdered in the park, not far from school, with 3 st
Is Defending Jacob a chilling legal thriller or an emotionally charged family drama?? In my opinion, it has an equal mix of both. If you haven't already read the book, check it out and decide for yourself.

The Story
* Told from the point of view of Andy Barber, a respected Assistant District Attorney, who is a typical Massachusetts suburbanite with a wife, Laurie, and a son, Jacob
* Andy is personally working the high profile case of a 14 year old boy who was stabbed to death in the park
* 14 year
JaHy☝Hold the Fairy Dust
***5 " Unwavering " Stars**
Have you ever tried to write a review but no matter how hard you tried , you just couldn't articulate your thoughts properly ? I feel your pain.

I've written and deleted this review more times than I care to admit. Can you say scatter brain? I apologize in advance for this condensed rambling mess. . . . which will tell you nothing about the book itself, is the best I could come up with :-(
Thankfully, there are numerous fantastic reviews on GR. PLEASE, PLEASE, PLEAS
Jeanette  "Astute Crabbist"
There's a stanza from a Wendell Berry poem called "The Way of Pain" that applies to both of the fathers in this story -- the one whose son was murdered, and the one whose son was accused of murder.

"And then I slept, and dreamed
the life of my only son
was required of me, and I
must bring him to the edge
of pain, not knowing why.
I woke, and yet that pain
was true. It brought his life
to the full in me. I bore him
suffering, with love like the sun,
too bright, unsparing, whole."

That fierce love, that int
Feb 15, 2012 Sandie rated it it was ok
William Landay's DEFENDING JACOB has received a lot of hype from its publishers and has been compared to Scott Turows "Presumed Innocent". Personally, this tale of the fourteen year old son of an Assistant D.A. accused of murdering a classmate put me more in mind of the William March book THE BAD SEED.

Several of Landay's characters lack flesh on their bones and the actions of some are downright unbelievable. The Jacob character must be based upon the Sphinx (he is that inscrutable) or perhaps he
Gary  the Bookworm
Mar 11, 2014 Gary the Bookworm rated it liked it
Normally, when a book screams at me, I'm going to be a movie, someday! I let it go. In the case of Defending Jacob, I sullenly read on, primarily because it was this month's selection for my book club at the Adult Center (view spoiler).I would no sooner have shown up on Tuesday AM to face this band of retired teachers and librarians without having read the book, than I would have smoked pot before taking the SAT's. So on I read, becoming increasingly annoyed as implausible pl ...more
Sep 21, 2014 Aoibhínn rated it it was amazing
Set in a small town in Massachusetts, Defending Jacob tells the story of fourteen-year-old Jacob Barber, the son of a well-respected Assistant District Attorney, who is accused of murdering a boy in his year at school. Has Jacob been falsely accused or is he, in fact, guilty of murder?

Defending Jacob is a well-written, disturbing and gripping crime thriller with plenty of twists and turns throughout the novel to keep you interested. I really enjoyed this book. I was hooked from the very beginni
Feb 22, 2016 Lisa rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: legal-fiction
Defending Jacob by William Landay is the most exciting unputdownable legal thriller i have read this year really enjoyed the storyline & the plot outstanding i finished it last night & i must say what a compelling ending i didn't see coming.

Andy Barbers job is to put killers behind bars but in a small town just outside of Boston where he lives is the kind of place parents go to bring up their children safely& violent crime is a rarity.

A boy from his son Jacob's school is found dead s
Dec 23, 2013 MobileMinx rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Readers Daring Enough to Delve Into Deep Interpersonal Dynamics
Forget what you believe about the ties that bind family and be prepared to wonder if those who populate your life are really who you think they are, and you will have the crux of William Landay's riveting novel Defending Jacob.

To say that this is a heart-wrenching story understates the high emotional toll that events take as they play out in the story of one family's drama. Jacob is the teenage son of Andy Barber, a local district attorney in the tony suburb of Newton, MA, who is charged with th
Dec 07, 2015 Snotchocheez rated it it was ok
I should probably "plead the fifth" on this one, as so many of my friends enjoyed this legal....thriller? mystery? angsty hand-wringer? Defending Jacob didn't really work on any level for me, sad to say. William Landay's many years employed as a DA are evident here, as the courtroom scenes are competently written, but implausibilities abound (as does really awful dialogue, particularly amongst adults, curiously enough). The end result is (as one keen observer noted in a one-word dismissal:) Shl ...more
Mary Beth
Sep 05, 2015 Mary Beth rated it really liked it
If you have been like me and have this on your Tbr like forever, I think you might want to read it. I don't know what took so long for me to read this. It was a big surprise. I loved this and its a really great book.

Its been awhile since I've read a good courtroom thriller and I will be reading more books by this author
It also has given me the urge to want to read more legal thrillers.

This book played very well on my emotions. It kept me in suspense, turning the pages till late at night.

Andy Ba
Jan 16, 2013 Ali rated it liked it
Shelves: fiction
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Aug 17, 2014 Zoeytron rated it it was amazing
Shelves: favorites
This legal thriller was more taut and riveting than any I have read in years. Arriving late to the party in reading this book, I am fortunate to have remained unaware of the ending, which was killer! The scene played out in the supermarket checkout line was sheer perfection - "quivering with hatred like a tuning fork". I could almost feel it, I swear. Excellent work, I recommend it without reservation.
I love a good mystery but I've been putting this one off because the idea of a legal/courtroom setting wasn't appealing to me at all. The title threw me off. I understood it as defending jacob in court, which applies - but this is MORE about defending the jacob who is your kid. This is the story of two very different 14 year old schoolmates. One ends up dead, the other ends up accused of killing the other. The parents' perspectives on both sides are closely examined.

Your kid. If you have one, i
May 01, 2012 Maddy rated it it was amazing
Shelves: tops, 2011-reads
PROTAGONIST: Andy Barber, assistant district attorney
SETTING: Massachusetts
RATING: 4.75

Assistant Defense Attorney Andy Barber, his wife Laurie and their son Jacob are very much a normal family until one of Jacob’s classmates, 14-year-old Ben Rifkin, is murdered. Andy takes on the case until the time that evidence is found that shows his son may have been involved. At that point, the world as the Barbers know it comes undone. Ultimately, there is more substantial proof implicating Jacob, and he i
Jessica Woodbury
Nov 25, 2011 Jessica Woodbury rated it liked it
Shelves: kindle, arc, crime-mystery
I hold books featuring cops and lawyers to a higher standard. First, because I AM a lawyer. And second, because if you're going to have that kind of protagonist, they need to be actually believable in that role. Otherwise find another way into your story. (And there are many. Note all the thrillers that feature retired or former cops, private investigators, random people who just decide to investigate, etc.)

So I was frustrated by this book several times because its protagonist (a career prosecut
Richard Derus
Jan 08, 2014 Richard Derus rated it liked it
This review can now be seen at Shelf Inflicted!
Apr 03, 2012 Kirsten rated it did not like it
I don’t read many legal thrillers but I picked up this one because of good reviews promising appeal to a wider audience. It’s also a psychological story about a family and a marriage, describing what happens to a husband and wife when their teenaged son is accused of murdering a classmate. However I thought it was too long and repetitive in the middle section, and weak because limited to the father Andy’s point of view. Most of the suspense in the book is created because Andy is narrating from a ...more
I would give this 3.75 if I could :-). I liked it quite a bit but I didn't LOVE it. I think it's because at times I felt it dragged, just a bit. The author leaves little statements making you want to keep reading to figure out what he is alluding to. The Dinner (which I just recently read) had a few similar issues discussed so I was comparing the two a little while reading. I knew there was a "surprise" ending and had a few thoughts along the was as to what was going to happen but I was wrong! ...more
2.5 actually.

This is one of those books that I wanted to love (cause everyone else has) but it was just... Meh.

At a high level, the novel is about a prosecutor whose 13-year-old son is accused of murdering a classmate. It asks big questions about parenting and the law: How far would you be willing to go to defend your child against an accusation of murder? How well do parents or how well can parents know their own children? What weighs more in the creation of a character: nature or nurture? How
Mary Ronan Drew
Mar 18, 2012 Mary Ronan Drew rated it it was amazing
Whew! What a book. Not having read most of the thrillers and courtroom dramas that have been best sellers for the last 20 years or so I am perhaps more susceptable than many readers to the suspense of this thrilling courtroom drama. I picked it up thinking it was an Oprah sort of book - son accused of murder, parents argue, younger sibling starts acting out, family disintegrates under the strain of defending their son.

Turns out it's rather more sophisticated than that. First of all the book is n
Apr 02, 2015 Carol rated it it was amazing
Great book with surprise ending!
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Was Jacob guilty - What would you do if it was your child? 232 2019 Sep 26, 2016 07:57PM  
Let's cast the stars of "Defending Jacob!" 92 1072 Sep 25, 2016 11:38PM  
ending 68 602 Sep 25, 2016 10:07PM  
Was Jacob guilty? 81 2182 Aug 30, 2016 07:46PM  
Madison Mega-Mara...: # 88 - Defending Jacob by William Landay 1 2 Jul 25, 2015 09:11PM  
Murder and justice 2 21 Jul 01, 2015 04:35PM  
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William Landay is the author of the New York Times bestseller Defending Jacob. Previous novels include Mission Flats, winner of the Dagger Award for best debut crime novel, and The Strangler, which was an L.A. Times favorite crime novel and nominated for the Strand Magazine Critics Award as best crime novel of the year.
More about William Landay...

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“At some point as adults we cease to be our parents' children and we become our children's parents instead.” 60 likes
“The interior of a teenager’s mind is an endless war between Stupid and Clever.” 50 likes
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